Summer holidays can be a wonderful time to bond with your child and create memorable experiences together.
Here are some suggestions that have worked for me over the years.
- Plan activities in advance: Create a list of activities that you and your child can enjoy together during the summer holidays. This can include outings to parks, woods, or other places of interest. Planning ahead will help ensure you have a variety of engaging activities throughout the summer. I always found a day in Fota good. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this; it could be a day just painting outside or looking at different flowers or birds. In my case, it was to go out and spot cars. (I know !! don’t ask)
Another suggestion would be to have up your sleeve a few activities to have available on a rainy day.
- Consider your child’s needs: Some children may be overwhelmed by crowded or noisy places, while others may seek sensory input and have to burn up their energy. For me, accessibility was key, so we did more strolling and going to parks that were wheelchair friendly. I found some libraries have great reading sections or arts and crafts in the summer. But David loved nothing better than going to the Lough and feeding the ducks.
- Provide structure and routine: I know it is tempting to relax and go with the flow, but I found maintaining a consistent daily routine help provide predictability. While summer holidays offer more flexibility, I tried to keep to regular mealtimes, bedtimes, and structured activities to provide a sense of stability and the ability to go back to school in September easier. Meeting up with friends from school or going on playdates is great as other parents are looking for the same.
- Involve your child in decision-making: Give your child choices and involve them in the decision-making process when planning activities. This can help build independence and increase their engagement and enjoyment. It could be things they would look forward to.
- Seek out inclusive programs and camps: Look for summer camps or programs specifically designed for children with additional needs; there are more and more of these popping up in Ireland. Contact the organisations your child is attending to find out more, or maybe they could tell you about other camps that the children they work with attend, and these programs often provide activities, support, and opportunities for social interaction with children who have similar abilities.
- Try not to overwhelm your child with a packed schedule: While it’s important to plan activities, try to avoid overloading your child’s schedule. Allow time to chill and relax. David loves nothing more than to “relax and take it easy.”
Please, please don’t compare your child to others. Every child is unique, and it’s important to focus on your child’s progress and abilities rather than comparing them to others. Celebrate their individual achievements and strengths. While it’s good to encourage growth and development, be mindful of your child’s limits.
Don’t ignore your own needs. You know I always go on about this but remember to prioritise self-care. Taking care of your own well-being will enable you to better support your child and enjoy the summer holidays together.
Embrace the joy and spontaneity of the summer holidays, creating special memories together. I found having a photo album can help keep the memories going and be useful for planning next year’s activities, what worked and what was not as successful as you had hoped.
So, enjoy the summer holidays and let’s all hope the sun will shine. x