An Organiser’s guide to surviving the school holidays

Does the thought of the school holidays fill you with dread?

Do you remember when you couldn't wait to finish school and have the summer ahead of you?
Hanging out with friends, long summer days and doing whatever you fancied. No teachers telling you what to do and only a little homework to do, which you left until the week before you went back. Oh the freedom!
Then we grew up and had children. Now we have all these responsibilities!
Summer holidays means juggling all the usual, plus extra childcare, trips and family activities! It can feel impossible to get it right and satisfy everyone.
So let's just keep it simple! Here are a few ideas for a calmer summer.

1) Don't stress too much about your home

I think I'm supposed to suggest that the school holidays are the best time to have a really good sort out, but frankly, who wants to be doing that when you'd rather be spending time with family, friends, or outside (hopefully enjoying nice weather), when you're not at work!

If you have time and can get your children involved, the holidays are a good opportunity to engage your children in some decluttering and organising because you all have the time and may be open to using some of it exploring old possessions and having a fun tidy. The good weather, fresh air and outside play may motivate them to free their inside space of old toys, books, games and stuff cluttering up their room.

Older children may also appreciate the opportunity to prepare a calm, orderly environment to support them when back to their studies.

My previous blogs give you ideas on how to approach Organising with your children and on Organising children's things.

If this isn't for you, that's ok. Don't worry about it. The family are likely to be outside quite a lot during the summer so you will all be less encumbered by your stuff.

Maintain as best you can during this time.

Recycle unnecessary paperwork as it comes in and donate any unused items as you spot them. Tidy out kitchen drawers and cupboards or sort wardrobes in preparation for new school uniform and autumn clothes.
You can recover after the holidays are over and you get back to normal routines. Perhaps you can get someone to take family out so that you can have a good sort out then. September is often a good time to reclaim control of your home and use the inspiration have gained from outings or hotel stays, to motivate you to make changes at home, in preparation for the autumn and Christmas.

2) Plan where you can

Getting organised in advance will take a little of time before hand but will be well worth the investment.
I've talked before about planning your week and creating meal plans before. It can really help you feel better prepared, have everything you need and have a smoother week. A shared wall planner (or electronic calendar) also helps everyone understand what's happening.
I'd advocate doing the same for the holidays - you don't have to stick to the plan but if you list the places you'd all like to visit, or things to do, this enables you to make time for these (don't forget chill out time too!). Make the most of any discounts and to prepare outfits (hello washing mountains!) and meal plans so that you don't need to think about meals and food shopping on the fly.

3) Get away

If you are planning on going away, whether abroad or in the UK, you can make life easy for yourself by using checklists to help manage your packing.

There is nothing worse than getting to your destination to find you only brought 17 sets of left contact lense (yes we've done that!).

Checklists may seem a bit over-kill but are a must have to save so much time and stress. It makes shopping and packing easy and you have the time and head space to get prepared!

I have friends who have honed their checklists, making packing a quick and easy task. They keep their lists packed away with the suitcases ready for future trips.

We do the same for camping gear making it so much easier to just throw everything in the car and escape for the weekend without worrying we've left things behind.

If self-catering or camping in the UK, meal planning before you go is so helpful. You can arrange a grocery delivery or visit a local supermarket and have everything for the week. Not only does it help you budget, ensure that you have meals that everyone will eat, but it's is a great way to make the most of picnics opportunities. It also takes the hassle out of dinner preparation and you can pack any extra bits you need to prepare a meal (such as special pan, ingredient or recipe).

Top 5 packing tips:

  1. Pack bags by person or categories so it's easy to find things when you arrive (e.g. chargers, medication, games, clothes beach items)
  2. Use smaller bags inside your suitcase or bag to manage groups of items (e.g. chargers, shoes, toiletries & bottles)
  3. Fold items that go together to make up outfits together so that you can easily bottoms and matching tops
  4. Pack smaller items into hollow items (e.g. socks into bras, pants into shoes)
  5. Nominate a responsible person who carries the bag with all essentials for the trip - tickets, money, keys, cards, important documents, chewing gum/sweets, hand gel, tissues, etc

My Packing Essentials checklists are perfect for making packing easy-peasy whilst ensuring that you don't forget those essentials.

I've created three tailored for different trips; camping, travel abroad and in the UK.

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