There are still five glorious weeks left of the school summer holidays, here are my top tips to survive them! I just hope I can take my own advice. Firstly, you are only human. All the glossy brochures sent home in your kids backpack, showing mum, dad and two smiling clean children enjoying a stress free day at a busy
theme park – are set up! Those people are models, I bet they aren't even married and those certainly aren't their kids. A realistic pic would be one worn down and frazzled parent desperately clinging on to his or her sanity, kids dirty and crying from too many 'bribe' sweets – the other parent isn't in the photo as they took the snap. Who hands their smart phone to a stranger these days!? Be kind to yourself, don't put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect, just be good enough. Don't get into debt paying for expensive garden toys, video games or 'special days out'.
Longleat, Wookey Hole and other zoos or theme parks can be over crowded, over priced and stressful. It could set a family of four well over a hundred quid for a traumatic day out. Kids enjoy family picnics in the local park, messy play in the garden or rainy day trips to affordable soft play centres just as much in my experience. Maybe I'm just being a cheapskate!
In Shepton Mallet, Hullabaloo play centre is offering unlimited entry for the whole summer hols for just £15 per child – what a bargain. Collett Park has free events on throughout the holidays. Grab 'The Fairy Trail' map from TIC or Fairy Godmother sweet shop to give your visit a whole new magical dimension. We have a refurbished skate park and BMX track for older kids up by the football club, and don't forget our outdoor pool. Shepton Mallet Lido is very popular in the hot weather, but they operate a band system so swimmers are guaranteed at least two hours in the pool once you've paid.
I'm most excited about Shepton's very own Caribbean Carnival Fun Day & BBQ organised by Jamrock Caribbean Takeaway on 12thAugust. There will be delicious food, face painting, football, kids games and activities. Ska, Reggae and dance hall music with performances by carnival acts and dancers. Back to my list of survival tips, I never go anywhere without a pack of baby wipes in my bag – I know they are controversial, and I'm sure there are similar sustainable alternatives, but my boys cannot eat a burger with sauce or a Mr.Whippy without making a right mess. I also try to take cash with me, especially to small local events. I also decided to set slightly later, but still consistent bedtimes over the holidays for my boys. Weekends I am more relaxed, but it's reading in bed or playtime upstairs after 8pm and lights out at 9pm in our household. It means everyone gets a bit of quiet time. Self care is my ultimate survival essential!
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)