A Parent's Guide: How to Prepare For The School Summer Holidays

It won’t be long until schools stop for their summer break, bringing a whole 7 weeks of carnage and empty days to fill.

Don’t leave getting prepared until the day before – make a start on planning and organising for the summer holidays now and you’ll thank yourself later.

We’ve got some handy tips below that will save you time (and a mini-meltdown) during the summer break, leaving free to enjoy some quality family time instead of stressing out.

1. Get Ahead With The Housework

Not exactly the most fun way to start, but you’ll be really glad you’re not stuck in doing laundry when you could be out in the garden. Give your fridge-freezer a good clear out and stock up on picnic foods, juice, ice lollies and healthy snacks.

Strip all the beds and give them a good deep clean. Hoover all the mattresses and pop some fresh bed linen on. Make sure the kids clothes cupboards and drawers are tidy too, making getting dressed before a day out as stress-free as possible!

Catch up on other deep cleaning tasks you’ve been meaning to get done if you have time as well so they can be ticked off your list.


2. Book Back to School Appointments Now

If your little ones are due a dental check-up, or you need to book them in for a haircut before they head back to school, get the appointments sorted now. Booking these things early will help you avoid running the risk of everywhere being full if you leave it closer to the time.


3. Sort Out Colouring & Craft Materials

We’re in Scotland, so the chances of a blissful 7 weeks of sunshine is highly unlikely. Dig out the craft box and replace any dry felt pens, broken crayons and filled colouring in books with new ones so you always have a go-to activity for rainy days.

You can find a whole range of kids sticker books, colouring in books, travel activity packs, stickers and stationery from under £1 in our Irvine store.


4. Have a Family Brainstorming Session for Ideas

Struggling to come up with 7 weeks of ideas on your own? Get a big sheet of paper and round up the kids for a family brainstorming session.

Write down everyone’s ideas, no matter how crazy, and work out which ones are feasible.


5. Give Your Car a Check Over

If you’re going to be using the car a lot more over the holidays, then make sure it’s in tip-top shape. Check your oil levels, top up your screen wash and give the inside and boot a good clear-out and hoover.

Check your tyre pressure too and fill them with air if needed. This is especially important before heading out on any long distance trips.

Other handy items to keep in your car over the school holidays include: a few bags for rubbish/sickness, a first aid kit, a couple of blankets for car naps and picnics, some bottled water, dry snacks and travel activity packs to keep the kids entertained.


6. Arrange Childcare

Sadly, we don’t all get to enjoy the summer holidays, with most working parents only able to take a week or two off to enjoy with their kids.

Ask relatives and friends if they can help you out over the holidays, and you can re-pay the favour another time.

Check your local area for kids summer schools and classes too. The Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock offers a Turtles, Pirates and Shipmates programme over school holidays, with sessions tailored to children aged 3 years to 15 years.


7. Dig Out The Library Cards

A trip to the library is a great way to fill an afternoon during the school summer holidays! Check to see if they have any special reading sessions coming up, or any fun classes that your child might be interested in too.

Introduce them to some new books for this week’s bedtime reading, or pick up something different from their favourite author. As well as encouraging more reading and helping with their writing and spelling, borrowing library books also teaches children to look after things that belong to others – a double parenting win!


8. Stock up on Batteries

As a parent I’m sure you already have a never ending supply of batteries, but they come in so handy over the holidays too for toys, remotes, digital cameras and the likes of portable BBQs etc as well.

Check all their battery operated toys and if any have batteries that don’t work, replace them now rather than later.


9. Book Playdates Now

It sounds easy enough to meet up with cousins and friends over the summer break, but between work schedules and holidays you might find that you can only see each other once or twice in the full break.

Get in there early and pencil in playdates and days out now before their calendars fill up too!


10. Create a ‘Restaurant Kit’

Do you follow  @busytoddler on Instagram? Susie is the goddess of all children’s activities, and has a whole page dedicated to fun ideas that you can do yourself at home! One post that I bookmarked straight away was the ‘restaurant kit’, which you can find saved to her highlights.

All you need is a small box (a plastic wet wipe box or similar will work perfectly) and some bits and bobs to keep your kids entertained at restaurants, coffee shops, on the train, in the car – everywhere where they need to be occupied and contained!

Some parents stick a Lego board into the lid and fill the box with mini Lego blocks. You could also fill the box with a mini drawing pad, stickers and pencils. Or why not try filling yours with: flash cards, happy meal toys you’ve saved, dry erase markers, mini jigsaws, toy cars, mini animals or mini building blocks with some Velcro pads stuck on them.


11. Check Kids Clothing & Shoes

Now is the ideal time to check that the clothes your kids will need over the break actually fit them. Ask them to try on swimming costumes and swim shorts, welly boots for muddy park trips, puddle suits and their comfiest trainers for everyday wear.


12. Space Out Spending & Make a Budget

It can be so easy to spend a fortune during the first few weeks of the holidays, but it can leave you strapped for cash for the rest of the time off.

Plan a weekly spending budget that you can afford and stick to it by planning a mix of chill-out/free days and paid activities per week.

Don’t forget to factor in the likes of petrol for day trips, food costs for picnics, parking fees or admission charges into the weekly spend.


13. Clean Outdoor Toys & Prepare The Garden

There’s no point in waiting until the kids are desperate to play outside to start weeding and scrubbing down their play equipment.

Start in the shed. Open the doors to let your shed air and dust cobwebs and dirt off of bikes and toys. Pump up bike tyres and make sure the chain is well-oiled.

Give swing sets, slides, see saws and garden furniture a good clean with soapy water, and replace the sand in the sandpit if it’s looking grim too.

If you need to use chemical weed killer in the garden this summer, get this done now well in advance of when the children will be outside playing.


14. Sort Out Discount Vouchers, Tokens & Coupons

Check websites, newspapers and magazines for money off vouchers for popular family parks and attractions this summer.

If you collect loyalty points from your regular supermarket, check where they can be redeemed too, as you might be able to use them for free entry or a heavily discounted day out for the whole family!


15. Check for Local Open Days & Fun Days

There’s always gala days, open days and park activities planned throughout Ayrshire over the summer months, so check the likes of Facebook or your local newspaper for information on upcoming events. Some are free, but if you have to pay it’s not normally a lot.

A few that you might want to pop in your calendar for this summer are: Picnic In The Park at McGavin Park in Kilwinning (8th August), Summer Fest Food & Craft Market in Beith (22nd June), Pirate Day at Heads of Ayr Farm Park (30th June) and Kelburn Garden Party (5th-8th July).


16. Don’t Forget Some PJ & DVD Days

You don’t have to have an activity planned for every single day, so make sure you leave plenty of time for you and the kids to chill out and relax after a stressful semester at school and a tough week at work.

Plan a family movie day – everyone picks their comfiest pyjamas and their favourite pillow and brings them into the living room or mum and dad’s room to watch some of their favourite films. Special finishing touches are freshly made popcorn, hot dogs, fluffy blankets and their favourite juice too!


17. Plan a Special Treat For The Last Week

You might want to keep a chunk of the budget for a special day out to mark the end of the holidays. Get everyone up early and head to the zoo or safari park for the day, or why not plan a train journey to the beach? Take everyone out for a yummy dinner at your favourite restaurant to finish an epic day out!


18. Stock up on Wine

Trust us on this one. Enjoy the holidays!