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Simple tips for a stress-free Half Term

Today is World Mental Health Day – a day which casts light on the many mental health issues that the population is suffering with on an everyday basis. According to recent studies, 1 in 4 of us in the UK suffer with a mental health problem each year. And, the most common issues are generally stress, anxiety and depression.

There are many triggers and symptoms related to mental illness, but often having children can heighten the symptoms of stress and anxiety. That’s why many parents panic when it comes to school holidays or when planning trips away with the whole family. 

As October half term is quickly approaching, we have listed a few tips that could help to minimise stressful situations during this period. Whether you are travelling with kids or planning to stay at home, we hope you find something here that could make things just that little bit easier…

Plan as much as you can

Children love plans. Whether it’s the knowledge that they will be seeing granny on Wednesday or knowing that they are visiting the skate park on Friday, a little planning can do wonders in making everyone feel comfortable with the arrangements for Half Term.

If you are staying at home for the week, plan a few activities to do at home that will get the kids excited – whether it’s den building or creating a new scarecrow in the garden, it will be something they can look forward to and tell their friends. A few days out could be fun too. There are always lots of pumpkin carving and Halloween-inspired events taking place in October Half Term, so do some research and get booked on early to avoid disappointment. Book train tickets in advance too to ensure you get the times, seats and prices you require for all the family. Remember, a Family Railcard can be most useful if you are planning on making a few journeys together.

…but don’t plan too much

School holidays are, after all, an opportunity for kids to get some much-needed rest and relaxation out of the classroom environment. Therefore, although you may be keen to organise a jam-packed schedule of things to do to keep them entertained, sometimes a chilled morning at home in pyjamas is just what they need.

Try to keep early mornings to a minimum during the holidays – after all you have enough of them during term time when you are all rushing to get out of the door. Keep things relaxed until after lunch, and the kids are probably going to be more rested and less likely to throw a tantrum out of tiredness.

You don’t have to spend lots

Half Term doesn’t have to be expensive. There are literally hundreds of free activities you can take part in. Walks in the forest, trips to feed the ducks, entry into free museums and bike rides around the coast are all exciting things to do, that don’t necessarily have a price tag attached to them.

If you are planning a day out to an attraction or theme park, be sure to take your own packed lunches – that way you can ensure your children will be eating something healthy that they like, and also it won’t cost you a fortune in fast food and bottled drinks.

Set rules and challenges

Rules are a part of life, and they generally make things run smoother and with less stress. When it comes to Half Term, set clear rules in terms of jobs, behaviour and screen-time allowance. You don’t want your child glued to their iPad for the whole duration of the holidays, so set a maximum amount of time for each day, as well as period for when screen-time is totally banned i.e. during meals and when you have guests visiting. By setting expectations early, you can avoid any push-back from kids later on.

For younger kids, star charts can be a helpful tool to encourage good behaviour and helping out with household jobs. You can reward your kids with stars or stickers when they help out with siblings or do something which is kind, but equally rewards can be removed at times when their behaviour is not acceptable. Make sure the final reward is something they really love, like a trip to the Railway Museum or a favourite sweet-treat, and it will hopefully motivate some top-notch holiday behaviour this Half Term!

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