Feeling unprepared for the summer holidays? Think again. We’ve scoured Devon and beyond for the best ideas, hints and tips for surviving the holidays to ensure the kids are never bored and that you’re left feeling in control.

Be Prepared!

The first and most important rule of summer holiday survival is making sure you’re prepared for all eventualities. Unexpected rain? You’ve already got some wet-weather activities up your sleeve. Children suddenly decided they no longer enjoy their favourite hobby? Well here’s an idea for a new one that I prepared earlier. The secret to a successful summer holiday is pre-planning – and thankfully, we’ve done a big chunk of it for you!

Teamwork – Your friends with children are going to all be in the same boat as you. Team up with them to arrange playdates for all of the little ones so that each of you have the chance for a break to catch up with anything you need to get done or just to enjoy a little you time.

Plan a timetable – We’re not talking about a daily timetable for the whole holidays from day one, but just having a rough timetabled plan of your day’s activity (even if only made the day before) will help you to stay on track and kickstart the day knowing what’s ahead. It will also help you to plan without over-planning, so you can be flexible while structured.

Stay Active

While older kids especially might be more inclined to laze in front of their Netflix account or spend all day playing Fortnite, it’s important to keep active and healthy through the holidays.

Organise a sports day – Create your very own 100m sprint, long jump, a sack race if you can get hold of some and everyone’s favourite – the egg and spoon race. This could be just for the immediate family in the garden or at the beach, or if you’ve got a big group of friends or get on well with the neighbours you could extend it further to add some more competition and make a bigger event in your local community!

Join a club – There are a number of sports clubs and camps running in the summer to suit every sporting hobby. Exeter City FC Community Trust will be bringing their holiday club for 5-14 year olds to towns across East, Mid and South Devon throughout the summer where children will be able to learn skill development and make new friends. It’s not just football either, the multi-sports day sessions offer street-golf, cricket, dodgeball and more! Find out more at www.exetercitycommunitytrust.co.uk/courses/summer-holidays-2019-live-now

Learn Something New

Just because it’s the holidays it doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Try adding in some activities that are both fun and educational.

Photography – This one is a double-edged sword. Let your child loose with a relatively inexpensive compact camera or a disposable camera and see what the world looks like from their perspective. Encourage them to think about the photos they’re taking and see what they come up with. Adults can also benefit from learning a bit more about photography too in order to capture better family photos to help those memories last a lifetime. There are plenty of helpful guides online or book yourself onto a beginner photography course if you really want to take your photos to another level.

Learn to care for your pet – Pets at home are running free workshops during the school holidays where you can learn to care for a pet. Sessions are between 30 mins to an hour and are great for helping children learn the responsibilities that come with their beloved pet. Beavers and cubs can also gain their Animal Carer activity badge at their local pets at home store too!

Museum Visits – Visit your local museum for free and enjoy taking part in the special exhibitions which are running in most throughout summer.

Go outdoors

With temperatures high and the sun shining, what better time is there to get out and explore nature.

Become a Nature Detective – The Woodland Trust are inviting young explorers to join their nature detectives club where, from just £1.50 a month, children will receive their own activity pack in the post bursting with ideas, stickers, activity sheets, fun facts, family-friendly events and more. Find out more at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives

Little Leg Walks – Explore your local area with a short walk to suit your little ones. Children will love discovering more about the area they live in and meeting local wildlife, learning about plants and being able to discover nature.

Wet-weather winners

There’s no doubt that given the unpredictability of the Great British Summer there’s likely to be at least a day or two of rain… hopefully not more! Having a 3-4 wet-weather activities up your sleeve will turn those frowns upside down in no time with minimum stress.

Swimming – They say if you can’t beat them join them, so when the rain comes pouring why spend your time trying to stay dry!

Kids Dinner Party – This relates back to teaming up with your other parent friends – take it in turns having your child host a kids dinner party where they think about the menu, help make the food and do the hosting themselves (with a little help from mum or dad of course). It’ll teach them social skills, responsibility and be a lot of fun too!

Simple, Effective and Free Ideas

You don’t have to have multiple years’ experience in event planning to give your children an enjoyable summer holiday. Sometimes the little things can result in the most fun.

Shake up the routine – Try having breakfast outdoors on a blanket in the garden or out in the park. Turning part of the daily routine into something a little more exciting is a great way to provide an activity without really doing anything differently! Apply your imagination to your routine and see what you can come up with – try setting up your own outdoor cinema to watch a film or make the weekly shop more of an adventure by giving them their own shopping lists they’re responsible for.

The ‘I’m Bored’ Jar – Tackle the inevitable resistance from children who tell you they ‘don’t want to do that’ in answer to every suggestion you make by having them write down some ideas of things they might enjoy doing during the holidays right as they begin. That way, when they come to you saying they’re bored, you can give them one of their own ideas as an answer and they’re much more likely to want to do it. That’s a win!

Foodie Fun

If your children are anything like I was as a child then the thought of anything related to food will be a winner. From family cooking and baking to foraging for your own and al fresco eating, there’s plenty of ways to make food more fun.

Pick your own Fruit – Help your children learn more about where the fruit they eat comes from by taking them to pick their own. It’s a fun activity with delicious rewards too. Shute Farm in Bishopsteignton, Thorne’s Farm near Crediton, Royal Oak Farm in Honiton and Dart’s Farm at Topsham are just a few examples of places that welcome you along to pick your own.

Make a Fridge Cake – Simple, easy and barely any ingredients, a chocolate Rice Krispie or cornflake cake is great fun to make without much preparation required.

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