10 things you must do during the summer holidays

Bucket and spade on the beach
Boring-but-essential or simply fun, Wendy Golledge has spoken to mums and teachers and rounded up the top things you must do with your kids before the end of the summer holidays.

The boring (but necessary!)

Sort health checks
Summer’s the perfect time to give your kids a mini health MOT. Get their eyes tested (children under 16 are entitled to free NHS eye examinations) and book them in for a check-up at the dentist (again free for under-16s). 

Start labelling
“Put name labels on everything, from shoes and cardies down to the very last sock! If you start early and do a few labels a week, you’ll avoid that feeling of blind panic when you realise you’ve got a whole wardrobe – or two! – to do in one night.”
Rebekah Scott, mum to Alfey, eight, and Joss, five

Get their hair cut
“Book their back-to-school haircut early. Last year I popped in the day before school started for the obligatory trim but the hairdressers’ was so heaving my boys had to spend the first week looking like scarecrows!!”
Abigail Harris mum to William, 14, George, 10 and Jess, three

Shop till you drop
Don’t leave shopping for new uniforms, bags, stationery and shoes until the last minute. Buying things throughout the summer will limit your stress, offer savings (most back-to-school sales are in July and early August) and mean your children have more choice (so it’s less likely they’ll have a tantrum when there are no Fifi or Ben 10 pencil cases left!).

The ‘you’ll-be-so-pleased-you-did’s

Plan playdates
Go playdate crazy! Regularly meeting up with other kids not only limits inevitable cries of “I’m bored”, but it helps hone your child’s social skills over the summer. And tea and cake in the sun with a few other frazzled mums once a week will do wonders for your sanity, too.

Make an art box
Become a hoarder. Whether it’s shoes boxes or empty kitchen paper rolls, stash everything you can now so when you child comes home with yet another request for junk modelling material, you won’t have to spend the evening trawling through the recycling bin.

Go bargain hunting
“Buy in bulk during the back-to-school sales. I snap up birthday cards, wrapping paper, cheap books and presents… Come September I’m the smug mum who doesn’t have to dash to the shops every time yet another party invite comes home!”
Tracy Eels, mum to Alice and Harry, six

Not essential… but great to look back on

Make a scrapbook
Your child can stick in memorabilia and pictures from the summer – great to look back on during cold winter afternoons or for triggering their memory when teachers ask “what did you do over the holidays?” Older children might like to blog about their summer, create their own web page or build an online book.

See the seaside
Come rain or shine, head to the coast. Whether it’s fish ‘n’ chips out of newspaper on the seafront, sandy ice-creams on the beach, huddling under umbrellas while building sandcastles or freezing swims in the sea, no summer holiday is complete without a trip to the great British seaside.

Embrace the great outdoors
“Go outside. Every single day. Last summer I took three weeks off and even when it was pouring, we went out. We did nature walks, went swimming, played catch, had picnics in the park, weeded the garden. It meant we all talked to each other and I really missed the bizarre conversations I’d had with my kids when we went back to work and school.”
Emma Harris, mum to Louise, seven, and Olivia, five