Stress-Free Holidays and a quick healthy ketchup!

Stress-Free Holidays and a quick healthy ketchup!

I know! A different title this week but I thought it was about time I addressed the ‘Life’ section of my blog again as many people find the school holidays tiresome. If, you are like me – you relish the thought of having the kids at home for the summer. 😀 You have a million and one things to do together – be it an all expenses holiday somewhere far away or just making a daisy chain in the garden! Maybe you want to go on bike rides together; clear out and sell outgrown toys to make way for new; go to the beach; go shopping; teach them your favourite recipes; splash in the paddling pool; go fruit picking; visit a farm – a castle – a park? So many possibilities and it ‘will’ all be over before you know it! School will start back again then it will be Christmas winter!

Not everyone loves the holidays though. There are more childcare issues. Family holidays are expensive. Siblings fight & squabble more than usual. “I’m bored” becomes the most common used daily phrase. Money doesn’t go as far. You run out of ideas and things to do, places to see, people to visit. You long for the routine and structure that school brings… not to mention the peace, quiet and some ‘me-time’. So… what do you do? The best thing to do is to PLAN! Whether your children are four or fourteen, planning is a great way to keep everyone positive and to maintain some normality! Start by making a wall planner (get the kids to help)! which covers the whole holiday! Keep it simple by just having a week to a row and as many rows as you need. Ours looks like this:

wall planner

Weekly holiday wall planner… ready for action!

Stick it in a prominent place where everyone can see it, then start adding to it. You can keep it as plain or as fancy as you like, but the important thing is to use it! 🙂 You can use different colour pens for each person, or each different type of activity e.g. all sports activities in green for example. We use small post its which are sticky and writable.

planning chart

Add your activities using coloured post it strips or coloured pen – TIP removable post its make this chart usable all year!

Now you have your planner what do you do? Well, you fill it up! 😛 🙂 If you’re reading this I know you can use the internet, so search for local activities! Write them on the planner along with the time and if booking is needed. In our area we have free sporting events such as football, basketball and tennis. We have park ranger events where you can hunt for mini-beasts or go on a bat-hunt. We have weekend festivals and shows in local parks which are free. We even have some free outdoor cinema showings and of course there’s many a free museum to visit (some fee paying museums often have one day a week when it’s free entry)! Even just a walk around your local area to spot new things – many buildings have fancy windows or name plates, gargoyles or decorative features… not to mention all the colourful flowers around at this time of year.

Next, contact a friend or two and arrange a play date – either at home or out for the day. Even if it’s for a months time, it’s something to add to the planner and look forward to. 🙂 Have a look and see where the spaces are and add a family trip out for the day – if money is an issue even a trip to the beach with a picnic would still be a great day out (if you don’t get sand in your sandwiches!) Check for local fetes and carnivals – free entry and a fantastic atmosphere to get you all busy for a few hours!

Maybe arrange a sleepover one night or if you’re feeling brave just organise a summer party and invite everyone all together! If you’re worried about what they’ll do pick a theme – a lego building party; a superhero party; a (dare I say it) – pokemon hunting party; even a cake making & decorating party. It’s the holidays, they should be filled with fun activities, shouldn’t have to break the bank and should be memorable and fun. ADD your ideas to the planner!

By now the planner should be looking full! How about a camp out in the garden? A board game marathon? A day to visit the grandparents? A trip to the local market? A photography competition? A garden sale (to raise money for that family outing)!? Organise a visit to your local library to get some new books? Make up your own play? Build a den out of bed-sheets? Have a treasure hunt in the park (3 different leaves / a skinny stick / a pebble etc.)? Host your own mini sports day? Have a trampoline marathon? Make an assault course in the garden? Create your favourite menu complete with pictures? So many things to do that nobody will have a chance to be bored! AND you might still manage to get that me-time! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Oh… and make some ketchup! Great for barbecues! 😀

Literally – put everything in a pan and cover. Put it on the hob on a low heat for 35-45 minutes. Cool. Blitz it if you like it smooth. Done! Healthy tasty homemade ketchup! Perfect 🙂 Slap it on some burgers; use it as a base for pizzas (get the kids to add their own toppings); dunk some chips in it; add it to a bolognese; drizzle it on some roasted veg…

You’ll need… 8-10 medium tomatoes, 1-2 onions, fresh herbs (bay, rosemary, oregano), salt and pepper, 1-2 garlic cloves, water to barely cover and a spoon of optional sweetener.

What does it look like when cooked? Ketchup of course! 😛

What are your ‘plans’ this holiday? Hopefully you have a full and action packed diary! 🙂

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