Help, It's Half Term! Ten School Holiday Essentials

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School holidays can be fun or they can become a fierce 'Nerf gun' battle ground for fighting siblings. So arm yourselves using our top tips on what you need to not only survive the school holidays but to make sure both you and the kids actually enjoy them...
Get everyone involved in the planning
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Get everyone involved in the planning

10. A holiday planner

Don't underestimate the merits of a well-thought-out holiday plan, either on paper or on your tablet. Sit down with the kids and talk about what everyone wants to do and whether you can fit it all in. You will need to employ some extraordinary negotiation skills, but it's worth it. Don't cram it with back-to-back activities otherwise you'll need another holiday to recover. Factor in homework as time can run away with you and, before you know it, it's the day before school starts again. But if the children have 'pre-agreed' this with you hopefully there won't be a huge protest when you do ask them to do it!
Old school days out are still the best
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Old school days out are still the best

9. Organised days out

Take this opportunity to have a couple of organised days out – plan these as a family. It doesn't have to break the bank either – collect tokens and vouchers to save money for the bigger attractions. Or add a train journey to the coast or a national park and your children will be talking about their amazing day out for weeks.
Films... perfect for rainy days or sleepovers
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Films... perfect for rainy days or sleepovers

8. Movie day

Get in new, old and favourite films, set up the living room like a cinema, close the curtains and have yourself a movie day. This can be a 'reserve' for a drizzly day or make it a sleepover. Don't forget the popcorn, drinks and ice cream for the interval. For lunch serve up kids' favourite hotdogs with mustard and ketchup.
Food, glorious food!
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Food, glorious food!

7. Stock up

The last thing you want to be doing while the kids are off is dragging them around the supermarket. Do a pre-planned shop just before – taking into account days out, picnics and baking activities you have planned. This is when the holiday planner comes into it's own – you could also plan your evening meals on the planner too, which makes food shopping far easier.

Invite more little angels round to play
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Invite more little angels round to play

6. Playmates and play dates

Arrange play dates and/or sleepovers with the kids' friends. As well as the kids having fun, this provides a great opportunity for you to spend some time with other mums, have a coffee while the kids play, or if you are leaving your children at someone else's house, for you to go shopping or just relax for five mins... which leads us onto the next suggestion...
And relaaaaaaaax. For five minutes at least
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And relaaaaaaaax. For five minutes at least

5. You time

This is essential! Take time for a cuppa with a friend, go for a walk, read a book or take a long soak in the bath. Arrange for someone to have the kids or just take five while they are busy doing something. School holidays can be hard work and sometimes we need to recharge the batteries. Make sure you have a good support network, particularly if you have more than one child as juggling multiple needs is exhausting! 
Remember to collect things for the scrapbook
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Remember to collect things for the scrapbook

4. Indoor crafts

Invest a bit of time and money into some good indoor craft materials or kits. This is a perfect time to share a skill with your child. Maybe when you were young your mum or gran taught you to knit, or your granddad taught you to whittle wood. why not continue this tradition by teaching your child the same skill? A holiday journal is also a great idea – your kids can collect things from their days out to stick in it and it's a great rainy day project.
Fun on the farm
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Fun on the farm

3. Free outdoor activities

Autumn is a great time of year to explore nature. There are so many great things to collect and bring home – conkers, acorns, multicoloured leaves. Wrap up warm, take a warming picnic, some hot chocolate and head out on a nature treasure hunt. There's always fun to be had on the farm so if you know a friendly farmer go see what he or she's up to. Local libraries and outdoor trusts like Natural England or The woodland Trust often run free holiday clubs and activities.
Baking can be as simple as you like
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Baking can be as simple as you like

2. Bake off

No school holiday would be complete without a baking day. Get the kids to spend some time looking up recipes and thinking about what they want to make. If you have more than one child then a bake off is a great idea. There are some brilliant children's cookery books or find suggestions online. If you feel up to it, invite friends and family round for a tea party afterwards to eat all the yummy things you've made!
It'll be anarchy without them!
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It'll be anarchy without them!

1. Rules!

School holidays can be a disaster if A) you don't plan and B) you just let the kids run riot! You will end up having a nervous breakdown, arguments will ensue and siblings become each other's nemesis! Laying down some simple ground rules that you agree to as a family will help to maintain a happy house. Ideas for these include: how long the children can play on the computer/tablet, respecting each other, making sure everyone has tea together at the end of the day, making sure children have clear times to come home and  boundaries to play within. 
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