How many times have you looked forward to the weekend or holidays and can’t wait for them to come around, only to find you’re tearing your hair out within the first few hours?! Are the kids arguing and fighting, do they complain of being bored and there’s nothing to do? The weather’s turned bad and your house is messy. You need a break, but you can’t and you’re wondering how you’re going to manage the rest of the free time without having a breakdown or completely losing the plot!
Well, you’re not alone so don’t feel bad or guilty for feeling like this. Just check out my 10 step survival guide to fun holidays and weekends for the busy Mum.
Loving the weekends and holidays
I’ve always looked forward to the weekends. It’s a welcome break from the busy, but often, mundane Monday-Friday routine of school, work, after-school clubs, homework and so on. The same is true of the holidays. I love having more freedom in my schedule, a chance to relax and unwind, re-charge my batteries. These are times spent as a family – having fun, enjoying being together and creating new memories and experiences.
But, the problem with weekends and holidays are that they can be totally unstructured. When you and your kids are used to structure because that’s what school and work dictates for most of your time, you’re just not used to having time to yourself.
Kids are often better with a bit of routine and structure to their day and I think adults tend to work better like this too.
We benefit from having a definite start and end point to our day, some kind of plan (even if it’s to have no plan at all and chill on the sofa all day) and some purpose to what we’re doing.
When weekends, and particularly, holidays come around, we’re just not used to this lack of structure and routine. After the initial relief of being able to have a break has sunk in, and is over, then we can flounder around aimlessly unless we create some structure.
- You may notice that the kids argue and fight more often, they say they’re bored, that there’s nothing to do.
- They may demand your attention more than usual, ask you to do stuff with them all the time, constantly ask for snacks and drinks (partly through boredom).
- You may end up spending a fortune on unwanted stuff at the shops or going out to places with expensive entry prices because you haven’t got any other ideas on how to occupy the kids.
- The house may look like a tornado has whipped through it.
- There might be toys and stuff everywhere and the kitchen surfaces might be piled high with dirty plates and cups and the remains of the last meal you prepared.
If you’re finding that weekends and holidays aren’t going quite as well as you’d hoped and you’re reaching your tipping point, then read on!
10 steps for surviving the weekends and holidays
- Meal plan and meal prep for main meals and snacks – This will mean you’ve always got food in the fridge and cupboards and you won’t have to spend time and effort deciding what to cook and then have to buy the ingredients before you can even start cooking. Plan and prep for snacks too as we often get caught out when we’re hungry and just need something to keep us going. It’s too easy to grab a chocolate bar, biscuit or packet of crisps when, with a bit of planning, we could be reaching for healthier alternatives. I’ve written a whole blog post about this over here.
- Make sure you keep on top of laundry – Do a load of laundry as often as your household requires. I do one load per day and make sure that it’s all dry, folded and put away before I go to bed. This way it never gets a chance to build up even if I do miss the odd day because we’ve been out and about. For more information on how you can set up routines to keep your home running smoothly click my post here.
- Prepare for wet weather with some home-based activities – Make sure you’ve got some ideas up your sleeve for when you’re stuck indoors. This could be board games, art and craft activities, recipes that children can follow with your help and the ingredients in your cupboards to make them. List some activities that are relevant to your children.
- Plan for when you’re desperate! – Keep some latest films back that the kids haven’t seen so they can have a film afternoon during times when you’re desperate! Let them have snacks and drinks and make a real treat of it. You’ll have some time to yourself whilst the film is on to get yourself back on track and feeling refreshed for when it’s finished!
- Try to tidy up little and often – Forget about expecting your home to be show home material and it probably won’t ever be spotlessly clean or tidy with kids around but have a quick whip round with a laundry basket before every meal time and keep it reasonably presentable without too much effort. Click here to read my post on how to reset your home in a flash. Or, check out my post on 5 ways to make housework quicker and easier over here.
- Maintain regular morning and bedtime routines – Try to keep regular morning and bed time routines and timings, even if they are a bit different to normal. Maybe the kids don’t have to get out of bed so early in the morning and can go to bed in the evening a bit later when they’re not in school but try to keep these routines at consistent times, so it doesn’t impact on nap times, for example, and your days still retain a structure.
- Stock up on supplies – Ensure you’ve got plenty of art supplies including paint, pens and pencils, glue, card and anything else your kids normally use so there’s always materials to hand and you don’t need to go to the shops just for this.
- Create a ‘places to visit’ list – Come up with a list of ten places you can visit or places you can go that are close by and are within your budget. Keep the list handy so that you’re never stuck for ideas when you’re ready to go out, but you can’t decide where.
- Try to keep a bit of structure to your day – This can be centred around wake up and bed times, meal and snack times. Work out which times of the day are the best for your children. When are they in their best moods? When are they least likely to get frustrated or kick off with each other, maybe through hunger or tiredness? Pick their best times for when you need to go out and about, run errands and go places that you generally require and expect good behaviour. Think carefully how you’re going to manage the times of day when your kids are more like to be grumpy, tired, hungry, or needy for your attention.
- Quick fixes – When it’s all too much and you’re just about to lose the plot, try these quick fixes to get you back on track:
- Get the kids occupied, make a cup of tea and sit still whilst you drink it. Don’t do anything else at the same time. Just enjoy your tea and pretend you are on island by yourself!
- Go for a walk and enjoy some fresh air. The kids can bring their bikes or scooters so it’s fun for them and they’re not clinging to you as you walk. Stride out and see where you end up!
- Turn the music up, sing and dance around the house!
- Go for a drive. The kids are in the back, strapped into their car seats, so they won’t be able to wriggle or fight. Turn the music up and enjoy the scenery!
- Probably the last thing you feel like doing but following a yoga workout on YouTube might get those endorphins flowing.
- Find a quiet corner of your house and practice a 5-minute meditation or mindfulness exercise. Put the Calm app on your phone or You-Tube for ideas.
- Take the kids to the playground. Pop in your earphones and listen to an inspiring podcast whilst you watch your kids play.
In a nutshell, the best ways of surviving weekends and summer holidays come down to two main things.
The more you can plan and be prepared, the easier it will be for you and your kids. Plan for bad weather and activities indoors, plan for good weather and activities outside, plan for meal times and snacks, plan for times of the day when you just need to make sure the kids are occupied so you can get 5 minute’s peace or knock out some work from home.
Plan your day but also plan for some flexibility and just going out or doing something on a whim. Plan and be prepared.
2. Let the little things go
If your home runs like a well-oiled machine for most of the time, then don’t worry if a few small things slip during the weekend or holiday. You can’t be 100% on top of your game 100% of the time.
It’s ok if you didn’t get around to putting a load of laundry on one day, or you ended up getting take-away for dinner because you didn’t have time or couldn’t be bothered to cook, and you weren’t organised enough to have a nutritious home-cooked lasagne in the freezer ready for times like this. You’re not perfect and who cares anyway!? Treat take-away as a special treat that you’d planned for ages and the kids and your partner will love it!
Just take a deep breath, repeat to yourself that you’re doing the best you can, cut yourself some slack and keep in mind my 10 steps for surviving the weekends and holidays!