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Enjoy The Mess And Get A Sun Tan: Tips To Make The Summer Holidays Run Smoothly

21/07/2017 14:02 BST | Updated 21/07/2017 14:02 BST

Schools are all breaking up and us mums and dads will have the kids at home for the next six weeks. How are we going to cope?

For me, it's all going to be about getting a good sun tan, getting used to living in an even messier home and managing expectations so everyone knows we'll be living in squalor.

Okay, I exaggerate. We won't be living in squalor but standards are going to slip.

My eldest daughter has been at primary school for four years now. I've learned some tricks for making the mammoth six-week school summer holiday run smoothly.

Here are some hints and tips. I hope you find them useful.

Let standards slip and take it easy

School children are tired and need a break after a full academic year. Likewise, after nine months of school runs and ferrying kids to after school clubs, mum and dad can also be drained. If kids want to lie in and no one in the household has showered or dressed before one pm, so what?

You probably want to ease back into a regular bed time during the final couple of weeks so it doesn't come as a shock when school starts again. Until that point, take it easy, go with the flow and relax.

Embrace the domestic chaos and learn to live with it

Fact: the house will be messier than usual

This is what happens when children are there 24/7. Just accept there will be more mess and domestic chaos throughout August and early September and you will have an easier life.

When my eldest daughter had her first six-week summer break, I spent much of the time trying to clear up after her. Life became so much more enjoyable when I simply gave up!

Keep following some kind of routine, although don't do too much

Dedicating just a few minutes to structured activities each day will make life considerably easier for you when the kids return to school. All that's needed is five or ten minutes of spellings or times tables. In my experience, it helps children settle back into school at the other end of the holidays.

Screen time will increase, but it can be managed

Screen time is going to increase over the summer break, accept this fact and you will have less on your conscience.

Rainy days and an unexpected increase in mum and dad's workload can result in mum and/or dad reaching for the TV remote. Even so, it doesn't have to be about awful cartoons, interspersed with dreadful commercials.

Inspiring classic films such as the BFG, the Harry Potter series and the old Superman movies can be found on streaming services like Google Play and Amazon Prime. These are usually commercial-free so the added bonus is that your kids won't pester you to buy junk they've seen advertised in those dreadful advertisements.

Take out annual membership of your favourite attractions

Visitor attractions can be incredibly expensive. Paying as much as £10 to £15 a head per visit isn't unusual, even for children.

Annual, family membership providing unlimited access to these attractions can usually be purchased for around £100 - £150. It may seem like a lot to spend in one go but it and gives you options for all year round - but key for summer is it gets the kids out the house so helps keep the house that bit tidier!

It's all about the sun tan....and the mess

You won't be surprised to hear that for me, the sign of a good summer holiday is a messy home and an unkempt garden. This should be combined with a good sun tan because of the amount of time spent outside. After the six-week school break, a tidy home is a sign you're piled your energies into the wrong activities!

A final word from an expert

London-based psychotherapist and relationship counsellor Samantha Carbon was kind enough to provide me with her insight. In her eyes, it all comes down to managing expectations.

Samantha said: "Putting pressure on oneself as parents to deliver on all counts can lead to stress and ultimately, tension. Trying to keep the perfect home, whilst juggling work deadlines; commitments and trying to be a fun parent that devotes quality time to their adventures can be a tricky balance.

"Aim to be realistic by creating your own brand of how you would like the summer holidays to look like and avoid getting caught up in what others are doing. The phrase "summer holiday" can be emotionally charged by memories and experiences of our own childhood so it's important to create a unique way of being during these 6 weeks so you make it your own.

"Learning to say no to external demands can be a struggle at this time of year, so pause and consider the family's needs. Pre-planning activities and taking a bit of time to think through how the 6 weeks might map out, along with having realistic expectations, will definitely help you to feel more in control".

What's your approach?

Do you have any hints and tips for making the school summer break run smoothly? If so, please leave a comment with your ideas. It's a demanding time and us mums and dads and we could learn a lot from each other.

Most importantly of all, whatever you get up to over the next few weeks, I hope you have lots of fun and create some marvellous memories.