As we approach the long summer break, foster carers often ask for guidance on how to keep children entertained over the holidays.
While it can be great to get to spend more time together, especially if the weather is good and you are planning to get away somewhere, the summer holidays can undoubtedly be a challenging time for families.
School provides structure and routine and without it, children can become bored and restless. Their friends may be away or busy with their own families so they may not have access to their normal friendship network. Bedtime routines may be disrupted or the weather may make it hard to sleep, so children can become tired.
For carers it can be tough to strike a balance between providing activities for the children to do and encouraging them to make their own fun. If you have another job alongside being a foster carer, this can be an added pressure as you may find yourself needing to provide holiday cover for colleagues alongside supporting your own family.
Over the summer, National Fostering Group offers advice and support to our fostering families on ways to fill the days for children of all ages without spending a fortune. Look out for our regular blogs. And in the meantime, here are 10 helpful tips to keep you smiling through the summer…
- Encourage children to play outside: This is a great way for them to burn off energy and get fresh air and exercise. It is important to take whatever precautions you need to take to keep them safe and your supervising social worker can help advise on this, if necessary. Don’t forget sunscreen.
- Provide healthy food: We’re not saying don’t ever have ice cream or candyfloss. But, over the summer when routines tend to disappear, ensuring the children have a healthy balanced diet can really help. If you’re going on a picnic or for a day out, for example, make sure you take plenty of healthy snacks and drinks.
- Stick to a budget: Nothing is guaranteed to stress you out more than feeling your finances are being stretched to breaking point. Think about how you can keep the children entertained while sticking to a budget. Going for picnics, camping out, gardening, going to the park and making pizzas are all great ways to do this. You can probably think of lots more.
- Prepare for long car journeys: If you are going on a long car journey, pack plenty of snacks and drinks, allow for frequent stops, introduce some tried and trusted travel games like 20 questions and I Spy and if your child feels travel sick, stop so they can get some fresh air.
- Manage arguments: When they are hot and tired or bored, squabbles can break out more easily among children (and adults!). If this happens, try separating the children and give them something to do that can help to distract them.
- Have a contingency plan for rainy days: Here in the UK we are – by necessity – pretty good at making back-up plans for bad weather. Trips to museums and galleries, craft activities and visits to indoor play areas are all great ways to spend a rainy day.
- Visit Tourist Information: During the summer there are lots of family activities and events taking place. Your local Tourist Information Office is often a great place to start.
- Look after yourself too: It’s harder to keep children entertained if you are feeling frazzled yourself. Try to build in some downtime for yourself so you can recharge your batteries ready to start afresh the next day.
- Ask for help: If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your supervising social worker or fostering agency.
- Talk to other foster carers: A great way to find helpful advice and information is by talking to other foster carers. People in your area might be able to recommend places to go and things to do. They may be able to suggest ways of tackling difficulties. Or they may just offer a friendly face or a sympathetic ear. Remember, you are never alone.
As a foster carer with National Fostering Group you have access to a network of support, training and advice throughout the year. For more information about fostering with us, click here.