Three weeks in, does the long summer vacation already have you in a stranglehold?
It’s that time in the summer holidays when inspiration wanes.
Most of us can keep the kids interested for the first half of the long vacation, especially if we go away for a week or two. The second half is trickier. We’ve been to the park too many times already. We’ve used up our stock of local day trips. Is there really still three weeks of this to go?
It’s no wonder that many parents suffer from Fear of the Summer Holidays (or FOSH). According to research from family activity app Hoop, over a quarter of parents of 5-16 year olds dread the summer holidays.
Keeping the kids entertained over the summer is a struggle for half of parents. Others tussle with balancing childcare and work (48%), worrying about keeping their kids active (40%), or, most significantly, have concerns about the cost of filling an entire summer with fun things to do (66%).
Dads are increasingly affected by FOSH, as they take over more everyday parental responsibilities. Nearly half of dads (45.4%) say they struggle to find activities to keep children entertained over the summer holidays, while nearly two-fifths (37%) are afflicted by the curse of social media, worrying that – according to Facebook and Instagram – other families are having a lot more fun in the sun. And those anxieties only get worse at the summer’s midpoint.
Max Jennings, co-founder of Hoop, says: “Our data shows that one peak holiday hump for parents is on 9th august, three weeks into the break. This isn’t hugely surprising as often favourite activities have been exhausted by then.”
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Did the ‘little explorers’ activity today at Yeoman Hill Park. It’s a free activity. Great for summer holidays if you are on a budget. We did it then played on the park, should have taken a picnic but didn’t have chance to make it 😞 Will definitely do another 😊 #summerholidays #littleexplorers
Summer holiday guilt
FOSH might sound trivial at first, but busy parents can be prone to anxiety or guilt if they don’t feel they are making the most of what can be quite rare downtime with their children. Psychologist Dr Dion Terrelonge explains:
“The summer holiday is much longer than other school breaks, and, for many parents, will feel like an un-traversable chasm of time to be filled. Fear of the summer holiday – like all fears – can be characterised by moments or brief periods of anxiety often about events yet to happen. That’s why a parent facing a six-week break with little or no plans may find this time particularly difficult.”
parent facing a six-week break with little or no plans may find this time particularly difficult
FOSH + COST = PAIN
FOSH is exacerbated by another four letter word: COST. It’s estimated that parents will spend £7.7 billion in total to entertain their children this summer, at a total of £1,497 per family (with an average of 1.8 kids).
While most of this goes on the family holiday (£860), a significant portion also goes on day trips and activities (£316). Other costs, such as food and snacks while out and about total to £102, and toys and games to keep kids entertained (£66), also contribute to the total. For the 32% of parents who pay childcare, there’s an extra £307 million (£187 each) to add to the bill.
And despite this significant spend, many parents compare their summers unfavourably to those of other families they see on social media. This can feel like rubbing salt into sunburnt wounds.
A sense of summer holiday perspective
So can anything be done? First off, don’t compare yourself or your summer to someone else’s tightly edited highlights on Facebook. Nobody posts the bad bits. After that, using apps like Hoop can be a good way to unlock activities and entertainment beyond the obvious.
“As this research shows, summer is one of the times when families need support the most,” says Max. “So in an effort to contain the constant chorus of “I’m bored”, we have created an easy to use guide to what’s on in your local area. With over three million minutes of free fun, there’s enough to satisfy even the trickiest of little customers whilst keeping bank balances intact.”
And our advice? Don’t feel you have to pack every day with interesting or worthy activities. It’s all about the balance. Sometimes a walk in the woods or a picnic in the garden is all you need to make a summer day special.