Confessions of a summer parent

It’s summer break! Time for relaxing in the garden, splashing in the pool and soaking up the sunshine. Yay!

Oh, wait. That’s not right, is it?

When I think of summertime, I think of my childhood version of summer. In California. A break from school and homework. Three months of sunshine and freedom, a trip to summer camp, getting to choose what I would read (usually the Chronicles of Narnia) and no math.

One of the harshest realities of becoming an adult was that there is no such thing as summer vacation for grown-ups. Most have to work around the year and now that I live in the UK, even the sunshine seems like almost too much to ask for.

A proper British BBQ. #summer #BBQ #fail.

A photo posted by Shannon (@shannonagain58) on

And then I became a parent – and discovered another new truth. Summer isn’t a time to relax. It’s a time for more work. Schools are closed and the kids need things to do.

The reality of this came as bit of a shock for me last year. As a work-from-home mum of a (then) one-year-old, I didn’t see why the older kids being off school would make things any different for me. My child wasn’t in school yet and I was used to seeing her all day, every day, anyway.

And then, one sunny morning we headed off to our normal play group. When we got there, something wasn’t right. The car park was empty, the doors were locked.

It turns out that all of our beloved toddler groups – places where Pumpkin could get a change of scenery and I could drink a cup of coffee before it went cold – close down in the summer too.

Little monkey enjoyed having the whole park to herself today. #toddlerlife #beingtwo

A photo posted by Shannon (@shannonagain58) on

The park, which we always had to ourselves during term time, was suddenly crowded. And the soft play centre, our last-ditch solution for times of desperation, was overrun with older kids who played a bit too rough for Pumpkin’s liking.

And it was going to be like that for EIGHT weeks.

The first couple of weeks were hard. I felt lost and a bit lonely without any adult contact during the day and Pumpkin didn’t understand why we weren’t going to do her normal activities. Our routine was gone we were both getting cabin fever from being cooped up all day.

Maybe we’ve been watching too much Mr Tumble.

A photo posted by Shannon (@shannonagain58) on

Eventually, we started getting out again. We’d have lunch at the local supermarket cafe or pop down to the shops. It was never particularly enthralling, but it got us through and eventually all the play groups came back. That was such a relief and I vowed to be more prepared next summer.

It’s now “next summer” and am I prepared?

Nope. Not even a little bit.

To be honest, I had kind of forgotten about how hard it got last year until I started writing this post. Time to start planning before we both start climbing the walls.

Me: “What are you doing??” Her: “Climbing wall!” #toddlerlife #beingtwo #askasillyquestion

A photo posted by Shannon (@shannonagain58) on

I’ve decided to make summer bucket list. It will give us a selection of things to do to get us out of the house when play groups and the park and the soft play aren’t really options. (Pumpkin’s much more of a bruiser than she was last year, but she’s still no competition for a six-year-old who leaps on top of her in the ball pool.)

Our summer bucket list

  • Take a picnic and go for a walk in the nearby marshes
  • Try a first trip to the cinema
  • Eat at a new restaurant
  • Take a boat ride on the Thames
  • Check out some books from the library
  • Explore a new park (Holland Park, Crystal Palace Dinosaurs)
  • Go pond dipping
  • See the animals at a city farm
  • Go to a pick-your-own fruit farm
  • Visit a historic property (Maybe the Charles Darwin House or Eltham Palace again)
  • Try some new museums (Museum of London, Horniman Museum, Science Museum)
  • Go to the craft store, then come home and do a craft project
  • Go to the supermarket to buy ingredients and then come home and cook something together

The list is looking a bit sparse at the moment – we’ve got eight weeks to fill and we can’t sit inside colouring all day. If you’ve got any other ideas, I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment below.

This post is an entry for BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor.

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6 Comments on "Confessions of a summer parent"

  1. Emma Thomson | July 12, 2016 at 7:04 am | Reply

    The local authorities sometimes have summer programmes for kids of all ages – G and her sidekick are going to mini movers and dance tots at the local sports centre.
    Also, what about the beach? £2.99 for a bucket and spade, toddler content for HOURS! Lots of bang for your buck. We went to Rye and Broadstairs during our time in the south east.

    • Thanks, Emma. Our local authority shuts down all toddler activities during the summer, which is really annoying! I would love to go to the beach, but without a car it’s quite a trek for and the train fares add up very quickly. Apparently they’ve built a beach at the Olympic park, so I might add that to our list. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness I remember discovering how awful summer holidays were for toddlers. I was rubbish at getting ideas for doing stuff and we spent any good weather in the garden. I think that list sounds plenty!

    • If we had a garden, we’d definitely spend more time outside. The concrete communal terrace is less than inspiring, even on a beautiful day.

  3. Love the pics! Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

  4. Love the tips, excited especially about the Second one – Hope you have a good time at Cinema, A typical cinema visit to me will for sure include 2 – 3 toilet visits unless it is really too mesmerising 🙂 Pond dipping is a good idea! 🙂

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