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fostering and the summer holidays

The prospect of six weeks with the children at home for the summer can be daunting as well as something to look forward to. Especially at the moment, when budgets are tight for many, entertaining children is hard.

We wanted to share some tips and ideas for helping make the summer manageable, fun, budget-friendly, and memorable for you and your family.

plan the summer holidays in advance for your fostering family

Setting expectations is key when it comes to the summer holidays. Planning activities can help you feel less overwhelmed day to day trying to come up with things to do, and can also help children not to have unrealistic expectations. Here are some tips for planning the holidays:

  • Talk about the summer holidays and ask what activities they would like to do.

  • Help them to anticipate feeling a bit bored and that they will need to play with things by themselves or just with each other at times.

  • It can be helpful to have a big planner up for the whole holidays so they can see what's happening each day.

  • A loose daily routine can also help. For example, in the mornings you can build in quiet times, or free play times where they know they have to play and you will be doing chores or other tasks (or having a quiet time yourself!) but then the afternoon will involve a trip out or activity in the home. And don't forget to include Tidy Up Time!

  • It is especially worth talking about any limits and routines with screens so children know they won't be able to play or watch an unlimited amount.

  • It can feel like you need an endless supply of snacks when the children are home for the summer holidays, especially if you're fostering more than one child, and if you have a child who tends to turn to the fridge when they're bored, an idea is to have a snack bowl or basket for each child with a day's worth of snacks in. If appropriate, they can choose when they eat their snacks but once it's gone, it's gone!

  • If you have a teenager in your care, perhaps they would benefit from getting a summer job or volunteering, and they might need your support to look for opportunities and to apply.

  • Finally, think about how you can help the child make memories, perhaps by having new experiences, or making a scrapbook as they go, or compiling a photo book at the end.

A young girl being sprayed by a sprinkler

entertaining on a budget

Some of the most special summer memories can be of the simplest activities where children get absorbed in play and feel carefree. Here are some ideas for activities that are free or low cost:

  • Visit a beach or lake and take a picnic.

  • Go on a walk and create or download a scavenger hunt list.

  • Meet friends at the park and take a picnic.

  • Set up a paddling pool in the garden on a hot day and provide cups and plastic boxes for a water fight!

  • Encourage your child to create a 'boredom box' where they put in it things they enjoy doing, books, and toys they haven't played with for a while. Then when they are bored they can choose something from their box to play with. Encourage them to decorate their box to make it feel special and novel, even if the items inside are from their room. If you can afford it, buy one thing to add to the box that is a new toy, activity, or book.

  • Go to your local library and participate in the Summer Reading Challenge.

  • Put up a tent in your garden for some camping sleepovers and also a place to play or read quietly in the day. Or put a pop up tent up inside and make a den or reading nook.

  • Do some arts and crafts, there are lots of ideas and tutorials on Youtube and other websites.

  • Do some baking.

  • Do some gardening and plant some seeds.

  • Take the chance to go through the child or young person's clothes with them and recycle or take to charity anything that no longer fits. It's a great opportunity to teach them about recycling and not throwing things away that can be used by someone else.

  • Let them set up a den in the lounge.

  • On a rainy day, have a movie marathon with homemade popcorn and snacks.

  • Visit a National Trust park.

  • Use Tesco Clubcard vouchers and/or look out for deals to make a day out to a zoo or theme park affordable.

  • Go to a Pick Your Own fruit and veg place, if there's one near you.

make time to replenish your energy

For your wellbeing, ensure you plan in moments for time alone where you can refresh yourself to be your best for the children in your care. Go for a walk, have a quiet evening reading a book or take a bath. It is very draining looking after children all day every day and planning in these times in can make a huge difference.


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