Ah, summer. Halcyon days of never-ending light, children running wild through meadows blooming with wildflowers and picnics on cosy chequered blankets in the park. The reality? Long evenings / delayed bedtimes / hay fever / nettle stings / sandwich fatigue / military planning may also factor. And the putting the cream on. Don’t get me started on the putting the cream on. It is literally bad enough for me to hope for a rainy day. Clearly, I’m not an expert at creating the perfect summer for my children which will shape them and stay with them forever, but I just about know how to survive it and that’s useful too right? When I was approached by my new Insta friend, McKell, to contribute to her Let’s Talk Motherhood series alongside some other fab mums, focusing this month on summertime with the kids, I truly felt like I had something worthy to contribute. I mean, the kids finish every day alive and well in their own beds and so far we’ve only had one day when I’ve flounced off upstairs the second my husband got home. And if that’s not winning . .
What are your favorite summertime activities with your little ones?
This is a tough one to start as everything I think we will all like doing is a nightmare once you have more than one. We’ll get to a huge adventure playground and they’ll both instantly disappear in different directions leaving me in a high state of sweaty stress. Or we’ll plan a day trip which will involve an hour’s tube ride and the 18 month old will instantly saunter off, swaying madly, down the carriage, leaving my oldest sat quietly on the seat alone. More sweaty stress. And the drawback to having children born and bred in central London is that the car has become anathema to them. They’re only in it when we’re off to visit family in the country or on holiday, so while they can make themselves comfortable and chill on four different rammed tube trains, they cannot stand the car. I mean, they physically show their disgust – the oldest was travel sick twice and now throws up as soon as she’s in, while the youngest hates being restrained in any way at all and listening to her never-ending high-pitched screams has caused me a nervous breakdown on more than one occasion. So, my advice would be – do the day trips but take snacks. Take Peppa Pig episodes on your phone. Take stickers, water pens, dolls, fidget spinners and random rubber toys that have been in the buggy since you gave birth. All these things should buy you about three minutes forty-five seconds of relaxation. Leaving you with less than 57 minutes to remain in a high state of anxiety on the tube. Easy.
Also, just a note that if your summer activities stretch to the park in the morning and the paddling pool in the afternoon, while it seems everyone else is off on day trips to the coast, ancient castles, the countryside etc, than don’t worry. They’re having a great time. They really are.
How do you help keep your young ones cool when it’s hot outside?
Ice-cream. Lollies. Twisters. Anything that will leave them covered in sticky juice, content.
How do you handle having less time in the summer, since your kids are out of school?
It’s extremely hard as I still need to work, and the motivation to work at the end of a full-on day that has had no respite – as the little one naps the big one wants to get out her painting, her beads to make necklaces, her PlayDoh My Little Pony (can’t blame her for this one) – is low low low. Needs must though and you get by because you have to. Fortunately, work is a little quieter in the summer and when I do have childcare I can get three times as much as usual done. All life admin and everything else that doesn’t have to be done immediately will slide, but hey life goes on.
At what age were your kids when you started taking family summer holidays with them?
We first took Dory away, with family, when she was three weeks old, which was the absolute best thing we could have done, as it’s just about the time everyone stops caring you’ve just had a baby and it hits you that it is you and you alone who will be with said baby every day . . for the rest of your life. Which is quite hard to deal with. The younger the better – of course, you don’t realise with your first how relaxing a new baby is, but later you will see the immobility, the million naps a day and the willing ‘cuddles’ they give you as the easy days. So do it. Do it now.
What tips would you suggest for new moms traveling with their little ones for the first time?
You really won’t need to pack many clothes. They’ll be in their nappy most of the time. Don’t pack every toy under the sun. You’ll find stuff to do. I feel like I’ve mentioned this before but.. PEPPA on your phone for the under twos is pretty much an essential for travel. If they’re really small, just keep giving them milk, put them in a sling and enjoy.
Want more summer advice? Go check out the other mum bloggers on Insta or their blogs – they know loads more than I do. Which isn’t that hard.