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Surviving the summer with kids

Do the summer holidays have you breaking into an anxious sweat? Are you booking day trips and play dates (and stocking up on gin?) Don’t worry girlfriend, I’m hearing you. We’ve all been there. The whine of ‘I’m bored’. Or, ‘he’s been in my world on Minecraft’ don’t quite align with the vision I have of my children frolicking with playful abandon through fields of wildflowers.

But children’s life coach Lisa Parkes, aka the Smiley Coach, is here to save our summer, with some super helpful advice on how to get through the next few weeks – and it doesn’t involve you being referee and chief event planner the entire time. Go forth and enjoy the summer people.


1. Manage your own perceptions for the summer. Instead of thinking you’ve got six long weeks to entertain the kids, focus on the positives that come from having six weeks holidays, like the time you get to bond with your children, the absence of the school run routine. It’s also important to do things for yourself that doesn’t involve the children, like seeing your own friends.

2. Boredom is good – it’s where creativity is born. Kids need to be bored to think for themselves. It’s not parent’s job to entertain their children. You want your kids to become self starters and to think for themselves. So throw it back to them. Perhaps create a boredom jar together at the start of the holidays. Fill a jar with notes that have ideas of things to do: include things like have a water fight in the garden, household chores, crafts, dressing up, colouring in, baking.

3. Let kids sort out their own arguments. Children need to learn positive conflict resolution and they will only learn this on the job. If you dive in to save them at every opportunity, they cannot learn and you will end up playing referee all summer long. If nobody is being hurt or in danger, I would leave them to it. ‘It sounds like you can’t agree, I’m going to leave you to work it out between you.’

3. Make a plan. Brainstorm summer ideas together as a family. Everyone will have different ideas and everyone needs to say what their wants are and when you’re making the plan. Get a big desk planner and write in what you’re going to do on each day. Involve kids into the planning process and give the children an input, that way they’ll be more likely to cooperate.

4. Define a lighter summer routine. You’ll still need to have a routine, but not a rigid one like the school term brings. If the teenager wants to have a lie in, there’s no point getting upset if they sleep in til 11am.  But if you have a plan in place and they know there’s a day out planned, they have to get up. And the next day if there’s no day out planned they can have a lie in. Everyone in the family needs down time. Only plan one major activity a day. During term time we’re over scheduled. So it’s important to use this time for quality connection as a family.

6. Join the Smiley Summer Club. To find out how to make the best of the summer with free activities for 10 days, sign up for Smiley Summer Club here. It’s free. It’s fun and it will enhance you family life in ways you didn’t think were possible.

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