May is lovely in Great Britain - friends are busy sharing photos of sunny walks in the park, the first BBQ of the year, or the first time playing cricket as the May Bank Holidays encourage us to get outside and be more active. With the understanding that the British weather is unpredictable, we rush out to soak up the rays at every opportunity.
Or at least, we should. Some of us find ourselves turning to the chores or DIY list for inspiration at Bank Holiday weekends and - whilst we know that busy parents can't always find other time to do this - why don't we embrace chores in a different way?
Cutting some chores out all together, and integrating some tasks into family activities can be the best way to do this. Many childhood memories are not just leisure related but of fixing a bike, painting a wall, doing some simple gardening or baking a cake.
Here are five tips to enjoy the Bank Holidays with children of all ages.
1. Agree - and stick to - a time limit. That way, you manage everybody's expectations and ensure that you have time together. Once the time limit is agreed, decide how much of it the children can spend with helping on the chores. As a rule of thumb, if you have babies who nap then only assume you have half the usual nap time to complete a task, as these young people will generally work to their own timetable when you need them to do precisely the opposite. Anything that can't be done in that time limit, gets struck off the to do list.
2. Teamwork: Bob the Builder knew what he was doing here. Depending on the age of your children involve them as much as you can. Expert studies show that "hands on" or heuristic play has a positive developmental impact. Some pre-schoolers can happily spend up to one hour on this type of play, so set out their own (safe) tools or baking equipment and ingredients. If you are happy to go with the flow, this can be the best way to get repairs and chores done. Older children will appreciate being involved in the "real" task rather than a play version, so ask them to line up ingredients, clear away or sort through clutter or even give them the chance to yield the vacuum cleaner and wash the car. You might be surprised at how good they are at it!
3. Have an achievable goal. Working parents have enough to feel guilty about - so don't let unfinished tasks add to it. Completing jobs engenders a feeling of self confidence in children. If they can start and finish a task, this will do wonders to their self-esteem and they will find other tasks less daunting.
4. Take a break - and have a fun meal as a celebration of a job well done. Part of the fun of real work is the social aspect, the coffee breaks spent with workmates and the celebratory meal out at the end of a project. Do the same for your children and have a fun biscuit break and crank up the BBQ. There's nothing like chores to get an appetite for sausages going.
5. Hire someone else to do the stuff you don't have time to do - choose an easy or fun project that you can share in as a family, then budget for a professional gardener or housekeeper to deal with everything else.