If you think back to your own childhood, you can bet many of the stand-out happy memories will come from summer holidays. Shrieking down the garden water slide again and again with brothers, sisters and friends, jumping off your dad’s shoulders into the sea or more sedate times like blackberry picking. Now as parents and freed from the relentless tyranny of school days with their constant time pressures, we want to recreate the feeling of summer holidays as a treasured time when families come together for fun.
Of course, many of us will be working at least some of the six weeks, and childcare organisations can help to pick up some of the slack. But hopefully we will all get some time to relax and unwind with our families too.
Here, we talk to mums and dads about what makes their summer family holidays so special and their plans for this year...
Fresh air and freedom
“I just love spending time with my partner and my kids away from our home on holiday; no work demands, no cleaning-shopping-sorting worries. Last year we spent two weeks on a chalet site in France and the kids joined up with a big group of children of all nationalities and swam in the beautiful lake and played endless games, from football to boules.They always seem to grow six inches in the summer holidays and I think it’s just fresh air and running free.” Desi
“I work pretty long hours and don’t get to see my family as much as I’d like, so our two-week summer holiday is special and gets me through the next few months. When we get in the car, we can be cranky and tense but coming home we’re all much more chilled with each other, laughing and singing and telling bad jokes, like we’ve reconnected.” Jim
“Time. The older they get, the more you realise how little time you have before they’re grown. Time to spend with my son one-on-one; time to chat, make each other laugh and try new things. He’s 12 now but every summer holiday he’s got the hang of something new - riding a bike, learning to swim, practising the perfect dive. I’ve got high hopes for waterskiing this year.” Tom
Fun by the sea
“I love being on a beach with my kids, whatever the weather. We’re lucky because we go to my parents in Cornwall, and spend hours clambering over rocks, poking rock pools, collecting crabs, body boarding, building sand castles or huge tourist trap holes.” Paula
“Last year we went camping with two other families on the Dorset coast. There was a simple rope swing over a river and the kids never tired of swinging out and jumping in - again and again. We’re going back again this year and I’ve already bought a thick rope, just in case.” Arthur
“Every summer I buy a cheap paddling pool, the bigger the better. My twins love being in water and I get to wallow and cool off.” Jane M
“What I love most about the summer holidays is cuddling with my two in my parents’ huge hammock. There’s something about inhaling the scent of my children’s hot hair that is so essentially summer holidays for me.” Jane K
Chilling with the family
“I’m a single mum and a mature student so we haven’t had a summer holiday abroad for years. Every year we do is a grand tour of my parents and my two sisters and their families, from Devon up to Sheffield. We plan playlists and audio books for the journeys - last year my seven-year-old son brought a joke book. My children love hanging out with their cousins, being babied by the teenagers and mini-parenting the little ones, and adore spending time with my parents. I think family is so important and the summer holidays are a great time to catch up, because you can eat outdoors so there’s less space pressure.” Mandy
“Two words: no school. The whole family unkinks and relaxes. Quite often we don’t get properly dressed until late morning. I can’t wait.” Catherine
Happy holidays to you all