How to Survive When Schools Out for Summer!


Survive is truly the word to describe summer holidays for many parents with children.  How will you keep your children occupied for those 8 – 12 weeks of Summer break?   And will your sanity survive trying?

People are always telling me how lucky I am to work from home and to be able to work around the children.  And, whilst I wouldn’t have it any other way, there are times when trying to work from home can be challenging.  Summer holidays is one of those times.

Of course for parents who work outside the home, the challenges are just as great.  

The question of "How do I entertain the children for those weeks" is always at the top of the agenda?

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With the help of Jill Holtz from I have put together some great tips from  parents to help you find ways to survive and, to let you know you are not alone with this challenge!!!  

Jill Holtz, from and tells us;

“Having worked for myself for over 10 years, I find summer holidays are always a bigger juggle than school terms. My best tip is to arrange to swap some childcare time with another self employed business owner who is in the same boat as you. Take their kids for a day and then swap.

I also tell my kids that if I get some work time in the morning (and they have to amuse themselves during that time), I will do something fun in the afternoon with them. It’s hard but you are only going to have this short time with them so spending that time is important too. My other tip is not to apologise if you need to rearrange meetings or calls to times when you have childcare, I just tell the person that time won’t suit as my kids are on their school holidays but here’s a time that works for me instead. After all most people are in the same boat”!

Kellie Kearney from Mylittlebabog lets us know how she manages:  

“This summer I will be working from home whilst caring for my four children aged 1, 2, 4 and 8. I write for two of Ireland's biggest parenting websites, look after social media accounts for Irish businesses then run my own blog on the sideline too.

Just like with midterm and random days off throughout the year I get up a couple hours earlier than them and get as much work done as I possibly can. I prep work while dad is off at the weekend to lower the load during the week and I will try organise as many play dates as I can”.

Helena Gilhooly, Creative Director at Busybeaders adds;

“As a mum of 4, summer time is a bit tricky all right. My tip is to arrange plenty of play dates with their friends, you can have the friends back another day. I also work in the evenings to catch up.

Another tip: they need to learn to amuse themselves too so it’s ok to say mam needs to work now for a bit”.

Caroline Kelly, from Knitting For All Mayo, adds her top two tips for working smarter in the summer!

"Be an early bird! It's easier in the summertime to rise before the kids so I find getting up at 6.30am usually gives me an hour or so before the kiddos get up and I get through lots. Organise your to do list the night before so that you can plough through it all very effectively!

Quiet Time - Plan the days for the kids, there will be lots of days when you are away or doing activities away from your home. But for the days when you are at home plan it out! Have a timetable which includes two 30 minute breaks so that you can work and kids have an activity they can do by themselves, jigsaw, colouring, maybe screentime for one of the breaks if they have earned it (chores, kind deeds etc!)

Another busy lady to offer her top tips is Mum and entrepreneur Maírín O'Reilly, from MÓR PR.  Maírín says;

“This is where having a network of parents and planning ahead together so that if your children are interested in the same summer camps that you can book the same dates and if possible that you are willing to rotate and share pick ups. I tried to have au pairs during the summer and I encouraged her to visit places, take the bus and bring my daughter and a picnic with them.

This way I didn't feel guilty that my daughter was missing out while I worked  in my home office”.

Karen McKevitt Editor of Natural Parenting Ireland Magazine is another Mum who works around her Children.  Her advice is -

*Get outdoors! Children love nothing more than exploring outside and the fresh air and space will help to keep things peaceful if tempers are frayed. If you have to get some work done yourself or just need some time to relax, head somewhere quiet - a field, the beach, the forest etc. Avoid busy playgrounds where you need to be much more vigilant and arguments are more likely with other children.

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*Be prepared- the current spell of lovely weather is unlikely to last-it is Ireland after all! Invest in some rain gear and you can head outdoors in any weather rather than spend a fortune going to yet another play centre- what child doesn't like splashing in puddles?! 

*Slow down. Don't feel under pressure to fill every week, day or hour with expensive or exhausting activities. It's perfectly okay for children to be bored sometimes - its how their imagination develops! This might be just the chance they need to rediscover old forgotten toys, perfect their skipping tricks or build a Lego city. 

*Listen to your children. What do they want to do with their summer? Make a "Bucket List" of things they want to do. It might surprise you what the summer holidays means to them. My 8 year old made a list last summer and it was much simpler than I expected; library visits, a day out for just the two of us, a trip on a train and ice-creams were all top of her list. 

*Reconnect at the end of the day. The days can be long and exhausting and you will find some are more challenging than others. The time-honoured advice for newly-weds "Don't go to bed angry" is equally true for families. Take some time at the end of the day to reconnect, whether it's a bedtime story or chat, tickles or pillow fights or just a great big hug, end the day on a positive note, ready to start afresh in the morning. 

I, myself, as a busy Mum of two boys have adapted my own ways of surviving the summer months.  As well as running IrishHealthHour I also have my personal website and podcast

“I plan to work in the early mornings, oftentimes while one boy is up and the other is still in bed.   I set my strategy for what I want to get done for the week and stick to it, in as much as possible in the hours I have.  If other things come up, I put them in my diary and prioritise what is more important to finish on each day.   

This year I have set up some of my offerings on line so that for the Summer months my goal is to create content and direct people to these offerings.

I also tell my boys that I will be working in the morning for a couple of hours and that we will do something in the afternoon together.  I also have booked mini breaks and got some good mid week deals.  For them and myself to have something to look forward to is essential!!!

Plus I opened a Credit Union loan for my oldest son and when he does his chores (mainly keeping his hurling gear out from under my feet and scattered around every room in the house!!) without making a fuss I put money in at the end of each week.   He can then borrow whatever amount he has in there for the holidays.  As well as helping me keep the house a little more under control it helps him learn the value of money and that sometimes there needs to be an energetic exchange e.g. he keeps his stuff tidy and the consequence is money in this credit union!!!

I would love to hear from you if you have anything to add. You can comment on the post below.

Dolores Andrew-Gavin, Founder IrishHealthHour, Empowerment Coach, Author and Mum