The Workingmums’ guide to how to survive the summer

children in summer holidays


You’ve got through the first week. Well done. Just five weeks to go. How are you going to survive till the end of summer? It’s not only that you’ve got to sort out childcare by begging favours from as many people as you can [mainly family, if you’re lucky, since they don’t always require the favour to be returned], but if you’re off with the children it can be hard coming up with non-expensive [ideally free] activities to keep them busy. has some tips on surviving the summer on a budget.

1. It may have escaped your notice, but it’s the Olympics this year and we’re hosting it. If you can’t beat ’em, why not join them. Get sport-astic over the summer. Check out your local leisure centres. They may have Olympic-themed events on. If not, why not create your very own Olympics at home? You could try out a different sport each day for a week. Try synchronised swimming out of the water. Nose pegs are a must. Get them to work out some routines. Ditto the floor exercises in gymnastics. Award medals for effort. Award yourself a medal just for turning up. Create your own medals and national anthems. Eat different meals from a different Olympic nation every night and download music from the country to create the right environment. Learn a few key phrases and facts. You can take part without having to shell out hundreds for an actual ticket and you can still see all the action from the comfort of your home.
2. Get crafty. Now is the perfect time for the kids to make perfumes and other foul-smelling potential gifts for parents and other assorted old people for Christmas. Get a bunch of old clothes and get them to design recycled outfits, using the sleeves of one shirt with the body of another. Then put on a fashion parade. Get them to do family portraits or run an Apprentice style competition. Who knows, they might come up with a really good idea and you might be able to retire in a couple of years’ time.
3. Get lists of potential activities in your area from the free kids’ magazines they hand out in libraries and in your child’s schoolbag which you normally only find about six months later along with the bill for keyboard lessons which they “forgot” to give you. Many of these are free or subsidised. Visit local parks. Pack a picnic [get the kids to design their own sandwich – the more outlandish the ingredients the better] and act out fairy stories or even Biff and Chip stories. Ideal if you have a dog.
4. Get them to put on a play. Suggest they write it themselves. It could take them days to rehearse, during which time you can get lots of other things done. Suggest they also design the costumes…and the scenery.
5. If childcare is a nightmare and, like most of the rest of us, you’ve left it to the last minute hoping someone might volunteer or you might win the Lottery in the meantime, get on the phone to your friends and organise a virtuous circle of favours. You volunteer to have their kids for a day in return for them having yours. The more friends you can rope in the better. You could end up just having to do one day in a fortnight, although this may mean you end up with a house full of 35 kids on that day. Still, 35 kids will probably mainly entertain themselves. See Number Four for suggestions of what they could do. Some sort of Greek tragedy might be entirely appropriate, given the Olympian summer theme. Good luck!

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