Do you dread the summer holidays? Do you worry about how to keep the kids entertained for six long weeks? Let 'Netmums' help you to plan positively for some quality time with your children.
The summer holidays are here. Almost seven weeks of freedom from routine stretch ahead of us. However, for single parents doing it all on their own, this can also be quite a daunting prospect. There are seven whole weeks to fill without the routine of toddler groups/pre-school or school. Don’t worry – Netmums.com is here to help.
Firstly we have a fantastic summer holidays planner for you to print out and use to organise your time, See here.
When planning your day/week we recommend you try to build in a good mix of Indoor, Active, Out 'n' About, as well as restful activities and chores. You can gather the kids and pencil in ideas of where to go and what to do each day. Perhaps each member of the family can pick their favourite choices? Even with one thing planned each day it can seem less daunting.
Netmums is packed with loads of family friendly activities, events and places to go – all in your local area and many free or low cost. You can find everything from parks, days out, family events and even free and easy games and activities to do at home. Our ‘What’s On’ pages are full of family events in your local area. Visit your local Netmums site to find everything on in your area. Our ‘101 things to do with your children for free’ page is a real life saver for those days when everyone is bored and whinging and you just need to pick yourselves up and find something to do.
There really is something for everyone here – from organising an indoor disco to water painting, taking a trip to your local fruit farm or making dens. It is a great page to visit when you need a boost of inspiration or energy.
One of the really tough things about the holidays is that the usual household chores still need to be done. As a single parent there is no-one else to take over and magically do them – so we also recommend building in time to tackle these jobs as well as ways to make life easier. Get the kids involved if they are old enough or head out on picnics to save on washing up! When you are the sole parent it is vital to build in breaks to catch your breath. Netmums has loads of holiday plays schemes and classes that run over the summer time listed so you can carve out some kid free time. We also have babysitters so you can plan the odd night out and enjoy some ‘me’ time.
For single mums – loneliness can be an issue in the holidays. Families are away on holidays, you miss out on the chat at the nursery/school gates and days can go by without speaking to another adult. We have local Netmums’ meet ups where everyone is welcome to go along - a great way to spend a morning chatting to other parents whilst your kids play. We also have a very well used Meet a Mum page where many friendships have been forged. So – if you need some company – perhaps from other single parents? – then why not pop a message on your local Meet a Mum board?
Best of all the sun is doing its best to keep on shining which always makes life easier. From all of us here at Netmums – have a very happy summer.
Some Ideas from our Summer Fun Pages
Build a den
Children love building dens. And as dens can be as simple or complex as you like, den building is an activity that can be done at home in the garden, using sheets and blankets, or you can get close to nature with a spot of building in the woods. Woods and forests are especially good because there's so much natural stuff just lying around that you can use: fallen branches, leaves and bracken, for example. In fact there are lots of den building events that take place in woods and forests across the country: take a look at the Forestry Commission website for details of such events, where rangers are on hand to offer expert assistance and advice.
At home den building can be a more simple but just as much fun. You will need some kind of framework from which to hang blankets or tarpaulin - perhaps between two trees, or hung over the garden furniture. A really simple home made tent-like den is to simply hang a large blanket over the washing line, weighing it to the ground using stones or other heavy items. Then have a tea party inside - take a look at our page on tea parties and tents for more ideas.
Room tidying competition
We love this one! This involves you setting a challenge for each child to see who can tidy their room in the fastest time. You can set a timer or simply count loudly until they have finished their tidying and the winner can choose what activity you do next. Genius.
Who says you need paints and pencils to create a masterpiece? Fill up a bucket of water and give your child a big paintbrush that they can use to paint the house, shed, patio, bricks....they'll love watching the water stain everything a different colour and going back over the bits they've missed.
Obstacle course in the garden
Ask your children to help you create their very own obstacle course with ropes, hoops and toys that they can wheel around the garden. You can time them and set them a challenge to try and best their original time.
Nicola Lamond is a founder of Netmums.com - Founded in 2000 Netmums is the UK's fastest-growing online parenting organisation with over 756,000 members, mostly mums. Netmums is a family of local sites that cover the UK, each site offering information to mothers on everything from where to find playgroups and how to eat healthily to where to meet other mothers.