The mum that makes an 8 week long summer holiday with her 4 children look like pure bliss on her Instagram account. Don’t believe a word of it! Those little thumb nail sized squares have a lot to answer for. Introducing Suzanne of "good life up north" fabulous instagram account of all things family life up north.
Surely the children can’t be impeccably behaved all the time, surely they have melt downs and there must be countless arguments about screen time…
Hi I’m Suzanne, stay at home mum to 3 daughters, age 14, 12 and 11 and a little boy, age 6 and fur mum to Frankie-Furter (guess his breed) and Ted the golden doodle who looks nothing like a golden doodle. I’m married to my biggest supporter and love of my life, who does everything for us (there she goes again…sorry I’m in Instagram mode-but it’s true).
Perfection isn’t a thing where kids and dogs are involved, that much we all know is true, but we love each other and live life to the full, exploring and adventuring whenever we can, sharing snippets of our journey along the way @good_life_up_north.
I thought, as the summer holidays are now well under way, I’d put together some parent hacks to help make your holidays as harmonious and memorable as possible.
🌟 Make a plan 🌟
Nothing set in stone of course, spontaneity is equally as good, but a plan of the things you’d like to do as a family is a good way of covering everyone’s interests and will ensure that there’s always something to do, keeping the ‘Mum I’m bored’ conversations at bay.
I tend to ask the children to make a list of things they’d like to do. We look through the lists together and come up with some good ideas between us (most of which hopefully suit all of us). I also do this on shorter holidays.
This summer we booked a camper van for 3 nights, a 3 night trip to London and a holiday to Ibiza. We then work other days out and activities around those big plans.
🌟 Enjoy being at home 🌟
It’s easy to underestimate how much fun we can have by staying home, although for us, and I’m sure many of you too, getting out and about is high on the agenda after living through recent restrictive times.
Good old fashioned activities are often the ones which help create the most special memories. I find setting a task works well.
Can you make a secret cinema?
Can you bake the best chocolate brownies? Could you use things around the house and garden to create your own slip and slide?
Adding a torch and picnic to a den made with the clothes horse and old sheets adds excitement. Using giant chalks to create an assault course gives direction, adding a stop watch and timing each other gives a little bit of fun competition.
Other activities at home could be water fights with balloons and the garden hose, creating something crafty together or simply playing with toys. I don’t know about you but sometimes we’re out so much we barely get to play with the toys. Train sets, lego and play doh are firm favourites here.
Sometimes staying home and just chilling can also be just what everyone needs to recuperate.
🌟 Play dates and sleepovers 🌟
I always say YES in the holidays, but 100% do what my own Mum did and start shouting ‘get to sleep’ in the most grumpy voice a second after midnight.
Sneakily, I try to plan sleepovers around any social events or things I have planned with my hubby or friends.
‘You can’t stay at Lucy’s tonight but you’re free next Wednesday night’. Come on we’re all a bit guilty of that, right?
Because we have a busy house anyway I often say yes to each of the girls having a friend to sleep over on the same night-that way it’s all over and done with in one go.
I don’t know about you but I really do love to see the children interact with their friends out of school and meeting up with friends on days out is so much more pleasurable for the children and the parents, especially if it ends with a BBQ and large glass of icy cold rosé.
🌟 Chores 🌟
Don’t be scared to ask the children for help. You’ll be amazed what they can do when they put their minds to it.
We often have a crazy hour where everyone helps with household chores. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything. You’ve got ready-made helpers, even if they do have to be bribed into it.
‘We’re going to the trampoline park with friends this afternoon but first we need to get the house in order, all hands on deck!’
Our youngest daughter can now iron. It’s amazing how much she can get through with the promise of an Amazon fidget toy purchase.
🌟 Days out 🌟
Whether an outdoor walk, beach trip or a planned trip to an adventure park or farm, it tends to be the same protocol. Everyone packs their own small backpack with water bottle, snack and hoody or raincoat. That way they take a little bit of responsibility. It gives us a chance to use the million zillion ‘clip on’ hand sanitisers that I’ve caved into buying every time we’re at a check out too.
The girls are really good with their little brother and tend to go with the flow if a day out is geared more towards his age group rather than theirs. They know that their time will come and that a shopping trip doesn’t appeal to him, but that he does it nonetheless.
We’re into August now and before we know it we’ll all be tearing off those tickets in Clarks, forming an orderly queue, waiting to try on new school shoes. When asked we’ll respond, ‘it’s been a lovely summer but they’re ready to go back now’ meaning that we’re ready for them to go back now, and that we’re desperate for some me time, a hair appointment, coffee in peace and a tidy home. If you’re like me though, you wouldn’t change it for the world.
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