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Family summer survival guide

Wondering how you’re going to cope during the summer holidays? Home or away, check out the team’s tried-and-tested suggestions in our summer survival guide

Family summer survival guide
Image: Getty

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Never leave home without…
Books. And cards. Oh, and Lego (if of the age), word searches, sticker books… and a headphone splitter — a great way to make screen time more inclusive. And yes, I’ll admit I’ve ‘shared’ a movie with my daughter while in transit, secretly eyeballing those last work emails and social media on the side. But if your child is engrossed they usually won’t notice, and you start weaning yourself off, ready for that digital-free holiday. It wouldn’t do to go cold turkey immediately…
Sarah Barrell, associate editor

Outdoor toys. It’s amazing how much entertainment a hula hoop, bat and ball, whistling throwing rocket, and bubble wand can give you and your kids this summer (and some of these can go with you on your travels, too). Hold ‘who can hula hoop for the longest?’ competitions — plenty of entertainment for all.
Natalie Jackson, events manager

How to plan…
Ignore the weather as kids often don’t care. So, if you’re wading in and out of rock pools in the drizzle, they’re probably a lot happier than you are.
Pat Riddell, editor

One day on, one day off: a mantra for summer plans and a general approach to trips. If you plan an early start with a full day packed with activities then balance it with a day of nothing — which means the pool or the beach for my lot. Plus, ensure the activities furthest away are done near the beginning of your trip, so you’re left with the less arduous, closer-to-home drives near to the end. No one wants a two-hour trek to a theme park the day before you have to pack and return home.
Maria Pieri, editorial director

Or do nothing. It’s tempting to fill the holidays with clubs and trips and days out… but don’t forget to leave time to decompress from the daily school grind, not to mention all the after-school activities. When I presented my seven-year-old daughter with a variety of proposals for things to do over the summer holidays, she wailed: “I want to have a quiet summer holiday for once!” For once!? She’s seven! So, we’ve left plenty of time for watching cartoons, playing with toys and reading comics on a beanbag in the garden. After all, you’re only little once. 
Jo Fletcher-Cross, contributing editor

Throw some easy-to-please local activities in the mix. This year, my kids have asked to stay at home and do all the things they never get a chance to do — laser tag, trampoline and water parks, theme parks, city bus tours and other homegrown attractions, from water fights to painting.
Maria Pieri, editorial director

Give in to a theme park: a great way to entertain the whole family, whatever the age range. I can highly recommend, for small children, Paultons Park in Hampshire with its fabulously colourful Peppa Pig World; while just outside London there’s Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland Windsor and Thorpe Park for a range of age groups. Further north you’ll find Thomas Land at Drayton Manor, Alton Towers for older thrill seekers, and on the cusp of the North Yorkshire Moors, Flamingo Land, with its fantastic selection of rides alongside one of the UK’s most visited zoos.
Chris Hudson, art director

And before you head off to the theme park, get hold of a map in advance (many are downloadable), and let the kids help plan the day.
Pat Riddell, editor

Work with the tech-obsessed
Try Geocaching. Search for millions of caches stashed around the world and let them find treasures while enjoying the great outdoors. Free.

Chess, Scrabble, Hangman, Countdown, Little Alchemy — from the classics to the modern classics, use in physical or app form on the go. Prices vary.

Leafsnap, The Woodland Trust, FlowerChecker, Forest Xplorer: Apps to help identify and find the plants, trees and flowers you might encounter. Free.
Josephine Price, online editor

Finally…
Get them close to nature. Check National Geographic’s guide for some excellent ideas from flying kites to enjoying the silence and measuring the age of trees.