As the long, long, long, long, long holidays approach some of us mums start to get a little bit anxious. The six week break stretches out before us like a bad dream. School for us is some kind of respite. So without that, life can be a tad stressful.
But mums – listen up. We can survive this 🙂
Here are my Top Tips:
1.Plan your Day
School suits our special children as the day is structured. Our children know what to expect. So holidays without that formula and with the complication of change causes meltdowns and behaviour problems. Use a blank calendar to plan the whole holidays and your child can also cross off each day until school starts again – that way he can count down the days and it won’t seem as daunting.
Plan with your child at the beginning of the day what will happen. Use a visual timetable with pictures or words and add every aspect of the day you think your child needs to know about. Surprises and change will cause the problems. Let your child have some say about what he’d like to do – so that he feels he is being listened to and is given a choice.
2. Keep to a Budget
Of course, one major problem of these long holidays is the astronomical cost. At the beginning of the week decide your budget that you want to spend on activities, treats, going out. Put it up on the fridge for all to see. Then stick to it. Let your child help with the maths and he will become aware of the restraints of what you can do with the funds available. This is great financial education – you can only spend when you have the money available.
Give your child a couple of simple chores that he has to do every day. Reward with a small cash incentive such as 50p that can be used to spend on a treat for that day or saved up to spend on something bigger.
4. Cheap and Free
There are many things to do which are free – parks, woods, trails, some museums (choose ones which are interactive), library (particularly if there is a story-time session). Some places have cheap rates for the summer – train to the seaside, cinema, swimming, theatre. Maybe choose one special outing for each week which is a bit more expensive – theme park, splash park, roller skating. But this big treat should be earned – maybe use a reward chart or put a smiley face on the calendar. Make the goals for the reward achievable though (after all you really want the special outing to go ahead…)
Another free idea is to use everyday objects to make things to play with, look on Pintrest. There are tons of ideas of things you can make and play together which are free – such as bean bags, water bombs, glitter jar, lava lamp, catapult, pom poms, bubble wrap runway, scavenger hunt, obstacle course, volcano and on and on and on .
5. Have a Project
If your child has a special interest make a project together that could last a week. Does he love insects? Go to the library, make a book, write a fact file, paint a picture, put on a play, make a model, produce a mini film using iphone – all about his special interest. There are unlimited possibilities. If it’s a themed activity it will mean more to him and he will be motivated to focus on it.
6.Limit Screen Time
Screen time can be great. TV, ipad, XBox, tablet all have their uses – can help your child to cool down, chill out and can even be educational and help with focus, concentration and dexterity. The latest craze of Pokemon Go actually might inspire you all to get out every day on a mission! But my advice, is to just limit the time. Agree beforehand how long he should be on the screen. Use a timer and when the time is up have the next activity something he’d really want to do. If you’re asking him to do his chore when screen time is finished, then you’re up for a battle. If you challenge him to build a lego tower that touches the ceiling then you’re on to a winner! If this is still problematic then maybe use a ‘now and next’ board – so he can see clearly by seeing pictures or words what is happening now and next.
7. Quit Whilst You’re Ahead
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, leave whilst the going is good. Don’t wait until he is tired, hungry, grumpy and irritable. Again let him know way in advance the time you’ll be leaving. Have a countdown on your iphone or show him on a watch, the time you’ll be leaving. And stick to it. Make your goodbyes well in advance so that when the time comes to leave there is no delay.
7. Keep a Photo Journal
Take photos of what you do every day and print them off. Buy a really lovely A4 hardback scrapbook and some fabulous felt tips (don’t forget to include this in the budget). He can then buy some stickers (maybe with his chore money). Then make a journal entitled ‘My Summer Holiday 2016’. He’ll love writing captions or explanations of what he’s done every day. You can read it together as a book and tell him he can take it to school to show his new teacher. It’ll make every day feel special – and may be the incentive to try something other than XBox.
8. Keep The Boring Stuff In The Morning
Inevitably there will be times that he as to accompany you to boring places such as appointments or supermarket shopping trips. Try to keep these in the morning when he is fresh and not too moany. Make sure it is in the plan of the day and that he knows what will happen after the boring stuff is over. Maybe straight to the park to collect six different types of leaves.
9. Be Prepared For Bad Days
Bad days happen to everyone. Yes, even those ‘friends’ on Facebook who seemingly have perfect, well behaved children. They don’t. The trick is what to do when there are the inevitable meltdowns. Have a plan. Try to keep calm. Let your child know that there is a safe, calm space to go to regulate his emotions – under the bed, behind the sofa. Keep to the daily schedule. Be consistent in your expectations. Distraction tactics work a treat if you catch the meltdown in time. But most importantly, don’t beat yourself up. You are doing your best
10. Have Time For Yourself
As ever, this is probably the most important Top Tip. If you are completely worn out, stressed and exhausted you will spend the Summer holiday shouting and screaming. Your child will then react to this by shouting and screaming. So every day, yes every day, you must find time to do something for yourself. Stop – even it’s for 5 minutes and breathe deeply, smell the air, look at the sky and smile. Have a cup of coffee, a bar of chocolate. Listen to your favourite song. Make a phone call and chat nonsense to a friend. Laugh.
It is your life too. You deserve to be happy.
So I wish you all a very lovely Summer holiday. Take control, follow these 10 Top Tips and I guarantee that you’ll survive!
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