Isn’t it ironic.
A few weeks ago I smugly sat here, merrily writing up a post about how I have all these plans for the Easter break and all the amazing things we were going to do.
I absolutely smashed it. I was super mum. We were out every single day, having a great time, loving life. We didn’t argue, we laughed, we played – we were best friends. We went to trampoline parks, soft play, farms… I even did crafts. I felt like I totally had this school holidays thing in hand.
I ran out of steam. I completely lost all motivation. I was trying to save some money because we were due to go on holiday on Saturday. Monday saw us headed to the cinema to watch Peter Rabbit – but the terrible weather for the rest of the week meant we were stuck in quite a bit.
I learned my limits. Two solid weeks without any form of childcare or even five minutes away from my daughter left me utterly exhausted. God I love her, but it was hard going. Entertaining a three year old is tough at the best of times but in crappy weather? For two weeks straight? A challenge.
We bickered. We argued. She wanted to go out and spend a fortune every single day and I wanted to drink hot coffee in silence.
I have a plan. I can do one week, I learned that. I can be fun mum for one whole week and everyone is happy. Any longer than a weekend I need to be looking at forking out for holiday club for a few day but the rest of the time I am fine as long as I plan activities. The problems arise when I wake up in the morning with no idea what to do for the day. We doze around in our PJ’s till lunchtime and then it seems pointless heading out. But no. Preparation is key.
When it comes to planning activities it can be hard to even know where to start to be honest and it can get mighty expensive, so you need to be savvy.
Make a packed lunch up
Every night before bed make a little lunchbox up for your kids and get their bag ready, meaning you are ready to head out of the door first thing in the morning for a fun filled day. It also saves a fortune if you take your own food. All those ‘oh we will just pop in this cafe for a quick lunch’ trips get so expensive.
Look for deals and inspiration
For example, say you are based in Liverpool. Head over to Groupon and search ‘Fun things to see and do in Liverpool’ and you are immediately awash with not only ideas for days out, but vouchers to make them cheaper.
They have everything from Trampoline Parks (and you know how much I LOVE a trampoline park) to softplay. There are restaurant vouchers, music concerts, art classes… whatever you fancy, you can probably find a deal on there for it.
I actually regularly use Groupon for gifts too, things like restaurant vouchers or concert tickets are a great gift and they are so affordable using sites like Groupon.
Write down your plan
I like to use a little whiteboard (which I think is supposed to be used for meal planning but..meh) to write each day what our main activity will be. It can be something big like a day out to the circus or something a bit more basic like hunting down some wild garlic in the woods and making pasta pesto for tea. If you are near the coast, pack up the car, pack up a picnic and head to the beach to find shells or make sand castles.
Get creative. Having a plan means you start the morning with purpose, the kids know what is going on that day and are less likely to nag. Winner. I find that even turning the daily dog walk into a bit of an event can be a good way to fill a day.
Factor in down time
If you are headed out for a big day out like a day at the beach or something, make the following day a little more low key. Maybe a trip to the local park or an afternoon of crafts. I hate crafts, if truth be told, but I do find that if I head to Home Bargains or Poundworld I can pick up a few little craft kits that keep my daughter entertained for a few hours. They do make your own fairy wand, or make your own unicorn kits which are only a couple of pounds. Failing that, an afternoon of colouring or painting can be quite relaxing after a busy week.
The trick is, don’t let them burn out. Overtired kids are grumpy kids. And grumpy kids make for fraught days.
Let me know if you have any other tips for surviving the school holidays. I am already trying to plan the Summer Holidays to avoid a repeat of Easter Break Week 2.
*This post was sponsored by Groupon, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.