Tips for surving the school holidays

With the summer holidays on the horizon (anyone else literally counting down the get ups?) I wanted to share some of my top tips for surviving the school holidays with your sanity intact!

Toddler with ice cream


This is my number one top tip for the holidays – it can be so easy to spend a fortune over the holidays or panic that you haven’t got money to do stuff. Worrying about money can be stressful at the best of times but when you’ve got the school holidays stretching out ahead of you and you know you want to do nice things with the kids it can be even worse!

Timber Festival - Shepherds Ice Cream, mojito flavour sorbet

Work out what you can afford to spend over the whole of the summer holidays, set out that budget from the start and then divide it equally over the weeks.

For the last few years we have budgeted specifically for the school holidays and it has made life so much easier. I tend to withdraw each week’s budget in cash and keep it separate in my purse so I know where I’m up to. Some weeks I spend the whole lot, other weeks we spend hardly anything and it rolls over into the next week. The kids know I have limited funds so if they ask to do something then we discuss if it’s good value – for example, is an hour’s trampolining worth as much as a full day at the ice cream farm? Or, do we want to spend the whole week’s budget on one adventure then not be able to do anything else that week? I think it’s an important lesson for the kids to learn and it also means I can plan comfortably without worrying that we can’t afford stuff or constantly having to ask Dave for money for days out etc. (I realise this makes me sound like a 1950s housewife but I’m not, I promise – it’s just that Dave tends to do the budgeting!)

Remember – there are so many free days out and things to do – not everything has to cost a fortune!

EatWell-UK reusable drink bottles for kids


I’m not a fly by the seat of your pants kinda girl. I want to know what I’m doing and when. I’m all for a bit of spontaneity but really if you want to get stuff done you need to plan for it. This drives Dave mad (we literally don’t have a free weekend until October) but if I left it to him we’d never see anyone or go anywhere! I take the same attitude with the school holidays, especially the big summer ones – if I don’t make plans we’ll get to the end of the holidays realising we’ve not seen anyone or got round to the things we wanted to do – and having a clear plan makes it much easier to avoid that panic of “Oh god everyone is so bored, what can we do today”.

I get the kids to write a list of the things they want to do – making it clear that this is just a list of ideas and that we can’t do everything on it. They know that I will fit in what I can depending on time and budget! Then I write a list of things I want to do – places I want to take them, people we want to see.

Little girl drawing for Bic Kids Artists

And then I plan. Plan in dates with friends, plan in dates for childcare (I usually book in one day a week so I can keep on top of my work during the holidays). I don’t always plan exactly what we’ll do on which day as sometimes it can be weather dependant but I’ll usually have a list of places we want to go and dates I know we can do it on and then we pick according to the weather.

Don’t over plan

And whilst I do think that planning is super important – it’s also really important not to over plan and this is a lesson I learned the hard way. Two years ago, without really meaning to, I pretty much booked up every single day of the school holidays! Don’t get me wrong, it was all lovely stuff – festivals, days out with friends, adventures for work – but I hadn’t given us time to breathe.

Last year, I specifically planned in “Calm Down Days” as we call them – days at home with nowhere pressing to be, days that involve lie ins, screen time and pjs! Looking at my calendar now we’ve got weeks where we’ve literally only got one day free – and I will keep it that way. I no longer see that as a day we are free but as a day we are busy relaxing and chilling out! It’s in important shift in thinking.

Make the most of play dates

Play dates and days out with friends are my biggest sanity saviour during the school holidays. Now I appreciate that I’m very lucky here in that lots of my friends are teachers and as such we are all off work at the same time but planning in days out with friends or a play date at each other’s houses gives you a chance to catch up on some adult conversation and keeps the kids busy! Some of my favourite days in the holidays are the “Butler Burgess” days where Mich and I take the kids out on an adventure together.

As well as planning days out together, it’s worth looking at seeing if you can swap play dates – you have the kids at yours one day and your friend has them at hers another – giving you both a bit of time without the kids to recharge your batteries or do the supermarket shop in peace – whatever floats your boat!

Let things slide

For your own sanity, you do just have to let things slide sometimes during the school holidays – be it bedtime routines, tidy bedrooms or screen-time limits. Pick your battles and remember that in September you can press reset!

Kids on Scarborough beach

Oh and snacks . . . you will need snacks! Get that grocery order in now!

Have an amazing summer!



  1. Kathryn Hipkin
    July 25, 2019 / 7:50 pm

    An interesting read. Mine are a bit older now (12 and 15) and I don’t teach so not off all the time but I’m off this week. I have done some of that, the kids have made lists and I also scheduled a free day in this week for them to lie in and not particularly have to be anywhere. That was yesterday.
    Today we went swimming this morning (£11.35 for the 3 of us), came back home for lunch, sat around in the garden and ate ice lollies, then went to my mums and cut the grass for her as she’s not that well. Then she fancied a takeaway from McDonalds so she insisted on paying for that and we brought it back to her house.
    Just looking at your ideas to see what i have and haven’t done. Need to budget a bit better
    We MAY do some meet ups with friends but not sure as Adam’s friend is away on holiday right now and Rachel’s best friend moved to Didcot from Newcastle a few years ago.
    I think we might go to the Sunderland Airshow this weekend as that’s free! Have a good summer and thanks for the article.

    • Colette
      July 25, 2019 / 10:57 pm

      Thanks Kathryn!
      I do think budgeting makes life much easier – I’ve actually spent very little this week – just a bit of fuel and a round of ice creams – which means we’ve got a good chunk to roll over into the coming weeks!
      Have a lovely summer x

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