School’s out for summer! Hooray! (Also, cue wave of panic as we look down the barrel of a six-week gun.)
It’s the loooooooong school holidays, and the best thing about it is the long stretch of no-mad-dash-early-morning-school-run, which – in the JCHQ household – largely involves Mother standing in the doorway screaming, “Where is your schoolbag? I handed it to you 30 seconds ago! How can you have lost it?” or something similar until she is hoarse and near-suicidal. Fun times! Also on the list of things we won’t miss are the frantic uniform cleaning and ironing (if they are lucky) sessions on Sunday nights, the Tuesday evening Maths homework agony, and the failure to remember which child is doing which afterschool activity and thus turning up at the wrong time at the wrong pitch for the wrong child (It is so lucky I stopped at 2 kids, or there would almost certainly have been an incident involving child services by now).
On the flip side….how do we survive the long summer break? How do we keep everyone (including hound) entertained? And how long will the “no screens in the day” rule be actually enforced?
Fear not, parents and dog-owners. We have come up with a list of ideas to help you through the endurance event that is Summer Holidays so that we all arrive in September in one piece, still talking to each other, and having not spent 20 hours a day playing Fortnite.
Fun-times at home
This week’s burst of Sub-Saharan African temperatures aside, it is generally easier to keep everyone entertained when the weather’s good. Here we have compiled a list of kid-and-dog friendly outdoor activities to keep everyone happy!
1. Stock up on water pistols from a pound shop and let everyone loose into the garden. (JCHQ suggests locking the back door to minimise risk of water wars carrying on into sitting room and over the carpets and sofas).
2. Den-building. These need not be extravagant tree-house-style affairs. A washing line and some old sheets and blankets in the smallest of gardens will still make a fine den. Make sure they take the dog’s water bowl, and he can join them in the den with some treats too.
3. Gardening tasks. Simple and straightforward weeding, patio-cleaning, grass trimming can kill some time – especially if given “equipment”! We find a pair of kids gardening gloves and an overall does the trick to make them feel professional and take the job seriously!
4. Challenge the kids to wash the car. Buckets of soapy water and a load of old cloths and sponges can certainly while away a few sunny hours. And the bonus is that you MIGHT* end up with a smart and polished shiny car at the end of it!
*likelihood almost zero
Days out with the dog
There comes a point in every summer holiday where it is just essential to get out the house and have a change of scenery. Why not take the dog on the day out too? Both English Heritage and the National Trust have hundreds of properties and historic sites to discover across the whole of the UK. Many of them allow your dogs to accompany you (on a lead) and while many of them don’t allow dogs into the property itself, there are some fantastic grounds surrounding many of them, ideal for walks and picnics.
Check out the websites for both organisations for exact rules and regulations.
Life’s a beach
There are loads of dog-friendly beaches all around the UK to choose from, and the best thing about a day at the beach is the pretty-much guaranteed good night’s sleep afterwards! Salty sea air tires out even the most terror-like toddler!
Rainy Day Ideas
This may seem hard to fathom in the current circumstances of equatorial sweatiness, (JCHQ is writing this blog in bikini in front of fan with large iced tea within reach and is STILL TOO HOT) but not all the summer holiday will be warm and sunny. Here are some ideas for activities when the good old British rain shows up!
1. Put on raincoats and wellies and do some puddle jumping. Dogs love a good long rain walk, and, we think, as long as everyone is suitably tooled-up for rainy weather, it can be enormous fun. Embrace the mud! Embrace the sogginess! Just be well prepared with towels and waterproof carpet covers for the return of small people and animals.
2. Go for a ride on a local train, or take a bus trip. The kids thoroughly enjoy it, and generally well-behaved pets are welcome. When JCHQ’s car went for a service recently we had to all attend dental appointments in the next town, and went by train. It was a revelation: so much so that JCHQ has vowed never to take car again.
3. Spend a day making all those craft things that they receive as birthday gifts, but are currently languishing under the bed or on top of the wardrobe. Ok, this one isn’t so dog-friendly. But he can have a nap during the frantic friendship bracelet threading.
4. Use your mobile phone camera to make a 'film' based on a favourite book or story. Make the dog the star of the performance. There is always a chance you could make some money on You’ve Been Framed….
5. Organise a play. Delve into the dressing-up drawer and get everyone into ridiculous hats. If your kids are a little bit older, they can come up with the plot by themselves, which is great for their creativity; just ensure that the dog has a part to play. Smaller children can act to you reading out a favourite book, or just act out the basic plot.
6. Top-up on the dog training. Re-enforce some of those recall skills and tricks that the dog learnt as a puppy. Using Nature's Harvest Air-Dried Atlantic Cod Treats as a perfect training accompaniment, it is always good to go back to basics sometimes and revise some of the skills learnt as a puppy/unlearn some bad habits! The kids will love being involved too.
Lastly, remember that it will end. September will come and bring with it the return of the morning school run, and also the child-free days to do crazy things like go to the loo undisturbed and drink a cup of tea while it is still hot.
Here at JCHQ we hope you survive this unpredictable summer weather, and we wish you all a very fun-filled holiday packed with happy times. But do please remember that – no matter what everyone else’s Instragram feed will have you believe – we will all be struggling a little to keep everyone sane, fed, entertained, cool/warm, happy and motivated over the summer. So give yourself a break, stroke the dog. You’re doing a grand job.