England

Five tips on how to continue to survive the school holidays

Wes recommends doing lots of cycling to tire his children out during the long summer holidays Image copyright Kirsty
Image caption Wes recommends doing lots of cycling to tire the children out during the school summer holidays

The school summer holidays can feel long for children - and their parents.

With weeks of unstructured time while schools, preschools and nurseries are closed, parents are left to organise their children's time themselves.

So, we asked parents in England how they divided, managed and planned their time.

Top tips include: "cooking seaside pasta", "using sticks to make fairy houses", and "painting stones."

1. Tire your kids out

Kirsty and Wes, from Surrey, recommend doing lots of cycling and swimming to "tire the kids out".

"My top tip is being outside as much as possible - rock pooling, den building, fairy house building with natural bits and bobs, creating a picture with things from the garden and as much water play as possible," says Kirsty.

Water play is especially important when it's hot, she says, adding: "We've been lucky with the weather this year."

In terms of managing childcare during the holidays, Kirsty says: "We're lucky enough to have fabulous and nearby family support.

"Eliza and Edie are spending a lot of time with their grandma, while we're working in the holidays, which is very lucky."

Kirsty has been setting her daughters little daily challenges to keep them occupied, such as collecting five interesting treasures while out on walks or writing a story to talk about at the end of the day.

2. Grow your own vegetables

Image copyright Lucy
Image caption Sofia and Anna have grown their own cucumber and tomatoes during the summer holidays

Lucy and Alasdair, from Croydon, south London, says one of their top tips is to "grow your own vegetables and cook together".

"The summer holidays can feel like quite a long stretch of unstructured time.

"Planting, watering, picking and eating keeps us busy every summer."

Image copyright Charlotte
Image caption Charlotte hopes her son will eat more fruit and vegetables if he grows them himself

Charlotte and Simon, from Suffolk, have also been growing vegetables.

They planted a small vegetable patch at the beginning of the summer.

"Our son may even eat more fruit and vegetables as a result," says Charlotte.

The family also shared their favourite summer holiday recipe, for "seaside pasta".

Image copyright Lucy
Image caption The family recipe for "seaside pasta"

3. Limit screen time

Image copyright Kate
Image caption Spend most of the day outdoors

Kate, Chris, Jasmine and Annabelle, from Suffolk, are strong advocates of spending time outdoors and "limiting screen time".

Kate is seven months pregnant and, along with their two young children, she has to consider keeping everyone occupied and safe with activities that are not too strenuous.

And being on maternity leave means cost is a huge factor.

"We have spent a lot of time at local parks, especially exploring parks in surrounding villages that may not be particularly fancy but the fact that they are different is exciting for children," Kate says.

And she has tried to meet up with friends, which she says is "beneficial in terms of social interaction and company for both adults and children".

The family also spent a week in a caravan by the coast, where "every day was spent at the beach, swimming in the sea and collecting interesting items such as shells and seaweed".

"You also can't beat a good woodland walk with a stick - wand, sword, walking stick - and smaller sticks can be used to lean against the base of a tree trunk to make a fairy house."

Kate limits screen time to when they come in from their days out, so she can unpack from the day and cook dinner in peace.

4. Plan your time

Image copyright Rebecca

Rebecca and David, from Yorkshire, shared their top tip: "Planning."

Rebecca finds juggling full-time work, childcare and annual leave tough.

"I've made sure we made the most of the days we had together by planning them," she says.

Saving daughter Matilda's birthday and Christmas presents for her to play with over the summer holidays has worked well.

And by planning their days together, the family has "created some fab memories".

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5. Choose free activities

Image copyright Christy
Image caption Christy and her daughter Mia have been painting stones and leaving them for other children to find

Christy, from Surrey, advises parents to "make use of free activities".

"Mia and I loved painting stones and uploading them to a Facebook group for other children to find this summer," she says.

Christy likes the stones to be painted with positive messages such as "Live, love, laugh," and "Follow your dreams."

Others are in colours that support breast cancer awareness or LGBT rights or are just simple paintings of an animal or pattern.

Image copyright Christy
Image caption Christy's instructions for painting stones with your child during the summer holidays

By Victoria Park, UGC & Social News

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