Summer holidays can be fun, but they can also be challenging, so we’ve asked Julia Packwood, founder of Nurturing Wild, to offer her top tips so you can enjoy a fun and stress-free school break!
The long summer holiday can seem daunting, the usual baby classes and toddler playgroups take a break. The parent friends you usually hang out with are away on holiday at different times to you. Perhaps you are going to be the sole caregiver during the holidays or trying to juggle fitting work around the long break. The emotional and financial pressures can make it seem quite an overwhelming prospect but fear not, you’ve got this!
TOP THREE TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS!
KEEP IT SIMPLE
One of the best pieces of advice which was given to me by my own mother when I first became a mum was; “One a day”. The message is simple.
Try not to cram/fill every morning and afternoon with activities. The summer is a long time so pace yourself and where possible, make your days less pressured by sticking to one activity.
SPEND TIME AT HOME
Children are often so busy at school or in early years childcare, especially with extracurricular clubs and class birthday parties thrown in the mix. The school holidays are an opportunity for children to simply enjoy time at home, play with their toys, read their books, and finally open that ‘paint a moneybox’ giftset which has been sitting on the shelf for months!
SPEND TIME OUTDOORS
This leads on to my passion, which is to inspire parents to get outdoors in nature with their children. It is well-documented that spending time outdoors in nature is good for our wellbeing and physical health.
Personally, I have so many happy childhood memories of playing outdoors and this is sadly no longer a common childhood experience.
FAMILY TIME OUTDOORS
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, JUST BAD CLOTHING!
This is a famous Forest School mantra. To get the most out of spending time outdoors, especially with the unpredictable UK weather, remember to pack the sunhats, sunscreen but also raincoats and wellies! Don’t be put off by the wet weather, children absolutely love
splashing in puddles and it is fantastic for bug hunting!
NATURE IS FULL OF OPEN-ENDED NATURAL RESOURCES TO PLAY WITH
No kit required! Sticks, stones, pinecones, and other natural resources are fantastic for loose parts play. These natural items offer many learning experiences, especially imaginative play, and creativity. A stick might become a wand for a magic spell, a spoon for a mud kitchen soup. Stones can become little people for small world play.
SIX WEEKS OF THE HOLIDAYS TO GO!
TRY THESE SIX FAMILY CHALLENGES
1) MAKE MUD PIES! You don’t need a fancy mud kitchen, just an old pan, spoon or stick and some mud! Tip: not much mud is needed, just a spoonful or two and mix with water.
Collect natural found materials such as sticks and leaves to add to creative recipes such as ‘soups.’
2) HAVE A TEDDY BEAR’S PICNIC – Pack a picnic, blanket, teddy and explore local parks. Make the most of these wonderful free green spaces. Why not try a different entrance or explore a different side of the park you usually gravitate to? Check out other green spaces and parks within a travelling distance. Venture a little further afield and go on an adventure.
3) GET MOVING – The outdoors offers great opportunities to get active. Run around, jump and balance on logs, cartwheel and roll down a hill! These are brilliant activities to help develop your child’s gross motor skills and balance.
4) GO ON A NATURE HUNT – This is an activity that requires no resources. Find different colours, textures, and wildlife such as birds. Look for minibeasts under logs, on tree trunks and plants. Remember to model to your child being very gentle with any bugs and return them back to where they were found.
5) GET CREATIVE – Be inspired by nature to create art! Get out those art materials at the back of the cupboard, paints, pens, crayons and take along paper. Spend time in a natural spot with lots of flora (plants) and have a go! In the eyes of a child all adults are brilliant artists so why not join in too! Chunky crayons and paper are also great for making leaf and bark rubbings.
6) PLAY GAMES – chalk and a small stone is all you need to draw out a hopscotch to play. Games like tag, stuck-in-the-mud, Simon Says, I-Spy and hide-and-seek require simply being in an outdoor space and are so much fun. Games teach your child turn taking, social skills and help develop their listening and attention.
Julia is a Successful Mum graduate, who has over 14 years primary and early years teaching experience and is a fully qualified Forest School leader. After becoming a mum of two children she founded Nurturing Wild© and runs parent and child (0-5yrs) outdoor learning sessions which follow the Forest School ethos at community sites in South London.
For more free tips and ideas sign up for her monthly newsletter on her website HERE, or follow Julia on social media, Instagram @nurturingwilduk and Facebook @nurturingwild.