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View as: GRID LIST

Simple Steps to a Successful Summer Staycation

1
Well, if you can judge a post by its alliterative title, this is a real winner.

I’m a week into our 12 week mammoth expat Canadian summer holiday: we’ve had a couple of days of rain and more than a few days of an absent husband but I’m feeling pretty confident we can pull this off.

12 weeks, 4 children and no planned holidays. <panic stricken face>

Here’s what I’m doing to make sure the next 11 weeks will be a success:

Earlyish mornings

One of our four children wouldn’t mind staying asleep until a prematurely-teenaged

SelfishMother.com
2
mid-morning. The other three, however, are deeply committed to seeing the hour before 6am and so my days would be exceptionally long if I didn’t have everyone in bed by 8-ish pm.

All that to say: no long lie-ins for any of us (sad face).

No pressure

Otherwise known as, consciously avoiding the nagging feelings of guilt around not entertaining all your children, all of the time. Boredom is a key element to a lot of the most imaginative play (backed up by science) and so I’m happy to let some days stretch out ahead of them with no plans and no

SelfishMother.com
3
parental direction. (Off the hook)

Divide and conquer

I love watching our four together and spending time as a big group.

But I also know that children really appreciate the odd, fleeting moment where they get to be alone with a parent. So we will make time for the odd solo outing.

Also: a truth universally acknowledged, that once you have any number of children, the moment you have one less under your care suddenly everything seems very easy (and quiet).

Another lightbulb moment was the introduction of ’recharge hour’ in our house,

SelfishMother.com
4
to give everyone some time playing independently. And, okay, perhaps a moment for me to be alone.

Orthodontics

Unfortunately and not me this time. Sometimes holidays just have a bit of unavoidable admin.

In the Garden

I have never been so grateful to have a beautiful (fenced) garden. Mr tMatM has been busy making it beautiful enough that I never need to leave.

The garden is also one of the easiest places to entertain a group of mixed-age children in a simple way without lots of expensive equipment.

Favourite activities:

Water

SelfishMother.com
5
(a wide tub filled with water, or a paddling pool if you are feeling fancy), with watering cans, ladles, toy cars or trucks for a car wash, paint brushes to paint water onto brick walls / stone floor. Making paper boats to sail in a tub has also gone down well.

Balls; hula hoops; chalk; fairy houses made from stones collected on walks; stones collected on walks for painting or drawing on with chalk, and stones collected on walks for stone collections. Just stones – or sticks for that matter – (but no hurt feelings).

Also, bringing out toys that

SelfishMother.com
6
would normally be inside – playmobil, or the Brio train set.

Brio trains outside; very different from Brio trains inside

The older children are also normally keen to join in with any gardening so these rakes and this spade (a super gift) have been well-loved. The toddlers of the house like to collect things in a wheelbarrow, which is also surprisingly helpful.

The ultimate back-up plan, my children love to wash their bikes, and who am I to stop them?

Books Books Books 

12 weeks is long enough to just about read an entire school

SelfishMother.com
7
year’s curriculum and not that I want to hot-house my children but they are happier when they have a bit of a challenge and mental stimulation beyond the latest episode of the Octonauts / Pokémon. 

So the summer will include plenty of trips to the library and plenty of reading.

Also: unlike requests for screen time, and in the spirit of independence, reading is one of those activities that children can embrace fully in the knowledge as a request parents won’t ever deny. (Some favourite books here, here, and a fresh list coming soon). 

I

SelfishMother.com
8
also try to foster that independence in the library by attempting to never refuse a request to take out a book, even if it means our loan list includes a large number of Tinkerbell and Beastquest literary triumphs and a whole lot of gritted teeth on my part.

Low-key Daytrips

As in, make the most of familiar, easy and local destinations.

The beach is still one of our favourite spots, despite being significantly less easy now that all of the four are busy instead of one or two sleeping soundly in a buggy or baby carrier.

Everyone is

SelfishMother.com
9
happy collecting shells or digging. Apart from, quite possibly, a mother paranoid about water safety and functioning on a level of adrenaline-fuelled high-alert for the duration of the trip.

Ambitious Daytrips

It’s not a holiday until you’ve tried to venture further than your usual 15-minutes-in-the-car radius and had some successes and failures.

Yesterday we had our first trip exploring a little further afield with a surprisingly successful outward journey, a beautiful destination and the classic end, a slightly hellish return journey. The

SelfishMother.com
10
full gambit.

 

The beautiful destination part of the day (hellish return journey model’s own)

Art

Coming your way soon: more summer smug and lazy art projects. For now… here are some old but good ones. I also just invested in some new paints and brushes. Obviously our first creative endeavor on receiving said art materials was the classic ’paint the amazon delivery box’ activity.

Most of all though this summer – I am really enjoying having them at home.

Surprisingly, in many ways a long summer holiday is less stressful

SelfishMother.com
11
than a short break. The children have time to adapt to a different daily rhythm and settle into a routine at home. And – as I keep reminding myself, sibling conflict is an excellent opportunity to develop critical life skills. Sadly I am not sure that listening to siblings in conflict has quite the same benefit.

Shortly after the successful outward journey (aka, still smug)

Happy summer! tMatM x

Thanks for reading! You can find out more about me here.

SelfishMother.com

By

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- 22 Jun 18

Well, if you can judge a post by its alliterative title, this is a real winner.

I’m a week into our 12 week mammoth expat Canadian summer holiday: we’ve had a couple of days of rain and more than a few days of an absent husband but I’m feeling pretty confident we can pull this off.

12 weeks, 4 children and no planned holidays. <panic stricken face>

Here’s what I’m doing to make sure the next 11 weeks will be a success:

Earlyish mornings

One of our four children wouldn’t mind staying asleep until a prematurely-teenaged mid-morning. The other three, however, are deeply committed to seeing the hour before 6am and so my days would be exceptionally long if I didn’t have everyone in bed by 8-ish pm.

All that to say: no long lie-ins for any of us (sad face).

No pressure

Otherwise known as, consciously avoiding the nagging feelings of guilt around not entertaining all your children, all of the time. Boredom is a key element to a lot of the most imaginative play (backed up by science) and so I’m happy to let some days stretch out ahead of them with no plans and no parental direction. (Off the hook)

Divide and conquer

I love watching our four together and spending time as a big group.

But I also know that children really appreciate the odd, fleeting moment where they get to be alone with a parent. So we will make time for the odd solo outing.

Also: a truth universally acknowledged, that once you have any number of children, the moment you have one less under your care suddenly everything seems very easy (and quiet).

Another lightbulb moment was the introduction of ‘recharge hour‘ in our house, to give everyone some time playing independently. And, okay, perhaps a moment for me to be alone.

Orthodontics

Unfortunately and not me this time. Sometimes holidays just have a bit of unavoidable admin.

In the Garden

I have never been so grateful to have a beautiful (fenced) garden. Mr tMatM has been busy making it beautiful enough that I never need to leave.

The garden is also one of the easiest places to entertain a group of mixed-age children in a simple way without lots of expensive equipment.

Favourite activities:

Water (a wide tub filled with water, or a paddling pool if you are feeling fancy), with watering cans, ladles, toy cars or trucks for a car wash, paint brushes to paint water onto brick walls / stone floor. Making paper boats to sail in a tub has also gone down well.

Balls; hula hoops; chalk; fairy houses made from stones collected on walks; stones collected on walks for painting or drawing on with chalk, and stones collected on walks for stone collections. Just stones – or sticks for that matter – (but no hurt feelings).

Also, bringing out toys that would normally be inside – playmobil, or the Brio train set.

Brio trains outside; very different from Brio trains inside

The older children are also normally keen to join in with any gardening so these rakes and this spade (a super gift) have been well-loved. The toddlers of the house like to collect things in a wheelbarrow, which is also surprisingly helpful.

The ultimate back-up plan, my children love to wash their bikes, and who am I to stop them?

Books Books Books 

12 weeks is long enough to just about read an entire school year’s curriculum and not that I want to hot-house my children but they are happier when they have a bit of a challenge and mental stimulation beyond the latest episode of the Octonauts / Pokémon. 

So the summer will include plenty of trips to the library and plenty of reading.

Also: unlike requests for screen time, and in the spirit of independence, reading is one of those activities that children can embrace fully in the knowledge as a request parents won’t ever deny. (Some favourite books here, here, and a fresh list coming soon). 

I also try to foster that independence in the library by attempting to never refuse a request to take out a book, even if it means our loan list includes a large number of Tinkerbell and Beastquest literary triumphs and a whole lot of gritted teeth on my part.

Low-key Daytrips

As in, make the most of familiar, easy and local destinations.

The beach is still one of our favourite spots, despite being significantly less easy now that all of the four are busy instead of one or two sleeping soundly in a buggy or baby carrier.

Everyone is happy collecting shells or digging. Apart from, quite possibly, a mother paranoid about water safety and functioning on a level of adrenaline-fuelled high-alert for the duration of the trip.

Ambitious Daytrips

It’s not a holiday until you’ve tried to venture further than your usual 15-minutes-in-the-car radius and had some successes and failures.

Yesterday we had our first trip exploring a little further afield with a surprisingly successful outward journey, a beautiful destination and the classic end, a slightly hellish return journey. The full gambit.

 

The beautiful destination part of the day (hellish return journey model’s own)

Art

Coming your way soon: more summer smug and lazy art projects. For now… here are some old but good ones. I also just invested in some new paints and brushes. Obviously our first creative endeavor on receiving said art materials was the classic ‘paint the amazon delivery box’ activity.

Most of all though this summer – I am really enjoying having them at home.

Surprisingly, in many ways a long summer holiday is less stressful than a short break. The children have time to adapt to a different daily rhythm and settle into a routine at home. And – as I keep reminding myself, sibling conflict is an excellent opportunity to develop critical life skills. Sadly I am not sure that listening to siblings in conflict has quite the same benefit.

Shortly after the successful outward journey (aka, still smug)

Happy summer! tMatM x

Thanks for reading! You can find out more about me here.

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I am a Mum of 4, aged 8, 6, 4 and 2; freelance writer, blogging regularly on expat life as a large family, lifestyle and parenting. Originally from London (the Mum) but recently relocated to Vancouver Island (and the Mom), you can read more on Instagram @themumandthemom or on my blog at https://themumandthemom.com

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