Parenting | Ten Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

School's outFor some parents the school holiday is a respite time with a more relaxed routine. However, it can be a nightmare for others for many reasons such as not being able to take time off work, lack of childcare options and tight budgets, and so requires a lot of planning and management. As parents we learn quickly that when raising children it is important to develop as many resources as we possibly can.

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of  parenting tips and in celebration of the upcoming school summer holidays here are some tips on how to make school breaks enjoyable for all members of the family so you won’t hear the infamous “I’m bored” – hopefully!

10 Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

  1. Time off: If you work outside of the home, plan your leave in advance for school holidays. Get the list of days off from the school at the start of each term and use this to plan your time off. If this is not possible, try to finish early over a few days during the mid-term.
  2. Plans: Make plans with children prior to school breaks. Making plans in advance for the days off will ensure that children are clear about what will happen. They will cooperate more if they are involved in making the plans.
  3. Family: Engage the support of family as much as possible at school breaks. If you share parenting with your child’s other parent, agree a system for the school holidays in advance. Grandparents and other family members can love having the chance to have some extra quality time with the children, maybe even a sleepover. Make sure to involve children in any plans and give them the information they need in advance.
  4. Friends: Make plans with other parents for play dates. Maybe you can set up a shared rota?
  5. Fun: Even if you have to work, try to have fun with children during the break. Fun doesn’t have to mean expense. Activities such as cooking, arts and crafts or having a picnic at home are really enjoyable things to do in the comfort of your own home. Plan fun activities out such as going to the park, feeding the ducks, a walk on the beach or going swimming.
  6. Library: Libraries often hold events for children on school breaks and are also a great source of information about what is taking place locally, such as nature walks or music workshops.
  7. Clear Out: Children can really enjoy helping at home. Take the school break as an opportunity to do a spring clean. Get the children involved in planning what needs to be done, make a colourful chart together. Maybe they can clear out their wardrobes and bring some clothes, toys or books to the charity shops. You may find hidden treasures as you go along, to have a dress up day when you finish!
  8. Socialise: Take school breaks as an opportunity to meet other families. There are lots of websites supporting families to meet up and do activities together. If you are feeling isolated, check out the One Family Social Group for starters. It provides a supportive environment for parents to enjoy a day out with other parents in similar circumstances, and is great fun for the children. Email us or call us if you’d like more information.
  9. Routine: It’s important to try to keep the bed time and meal time routines in place while children are on short school breaks. This will ensure that they will not get over tired, and as they are still in their routine when school begins again, the transition will be easier for everyone.
  10. Enjoy: Most of all, enjoy the break from homework as this allows time for other things in the evenings – don’t dread the school breaks.

Next you might like to read more about establishing routines.

‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

Parenting | How to Deal with Leaving Cert Results Disappointment

woman-164299_1280Leaving cert results are out on 17 August and parents and teens anxiously await to see what life holds as a result. There are so many expectations around the Leaving Certificate and CAO choices that, as a result, there is great potential for disappointment. What if your teen misses out on their top choice; what if they are disappointed with their grade in a particular subject; what if they don’t get the points they feel they deserved; what if they didn’t do as well as their friends; what if they can see no options for themselves?

How can you support your teen through this tough time? Read our ’10 ways’ to deal with disappointment on results day:

  1. No matter what happens when they get their results, the key thing to remember is that life goes on. Your child is still your child, you still love them as much as you did the day before. Yes, it may seem obvious but now is a time to focus on this and to remind them.
  2. If they don’t get what they wished for, you will be heartbroken for them but you must believe that there’s a new plan for them that you can support them to develop and progress with.
  3. Don’t worry about what others think, does it matter?! Instead, be concerned about what your child needs from you.
  4. Explore every option with them around colleges and courses. Get advice from a helpline. Look at all the options – there are so many – and have some resources in place.
  5. Tell your teen that, although getting straight into the course they wanted would have been great, there is always more than one route to any career.
  6. Tell them that you admire them, and that no matter what, together you will find a way to get to the next stage of their journey. Once your child knows you have faith in them, they will have the confidence to stand tall and tell others about their plan.
  7. University is not for everyone. Going to a local or smaller college can seem like a less daunting step to take and may be a great option for your teen.
  8. Celebrate in some way, no matter what the results are. They have gotten this far, a new stage in their life is starting, and the occasion needs to be marked. Good or bad, it is a time to be together.
  9. Teens will no doubt have plans to go out and celebrate with friends. Agree with them now what is allowed, so you are not caught off guard with their requests or expectations on results day. Be realistic. In a few weeks or months they may move out and will have more freedom, so you need to trust and enable them to make good choices.
  10. Remember, there are lots of options in life and with support, we all find our way!

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66

22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Supporting Young People Doing Exams

Parenting | 10 Ways to Support A Young Person During Exams

Supporting young people doing examsExam time … Not a phrase that most parents relish! In any family, exam time can add extra stress and pressure to each member of the family. It is not only the young person taking the exam that is impacted so it is important to keep some thoughts in mind which may support both ourselves as parents and our children during this time. Here are our suggestions to help you and your young student experience a less stressful exam time:

  1. Do you remember what it was like when you were taking exams yourself? Most of us probably needed some space and didn’t want to get asked too many questions after each exam. With this in mind, try to provide the calm environment your young person needs to study and relax in.
  2. Offering this space to one child may have impacts on other children in the family, especially if they are younger. Try to spend time outside with younger children and organise some play dates for them if you can. You’ll have the school summer holidays to organise more time together as a family.
  3. Try to stay calm. Sometimes it can feel almost like we’re the ones taking the exam! We worry constantly and watch every move our children make; checking what they eat, if they’re sleeping enough, if they’re watching too much TV, if they have revised and studied enough. It is important that we support our children to plan and organise their own time. They can’t study all of the time, relaxation is also important in achieving results.
  4. If you feel concern that your young person has no interest in studying, remember that your relationship with your child is much more important than any exam result. We want our children to believe in themselves and to trust that they can do well. Help them to understand that exam results are not a reflection of who they are, but that they are just the way of our world, so exams are something that we need to do as well as we can. Let them know that you are proud of them no matter what the outcome. Trust in your child’s ability, they will find their own way in the world and they might not find their future path through academics.
  5. Try to have established a habit of sharing regular quality time with your child. It can be more difficult to do as they become teenagers and young adults, but make a date with them weekly if you can. Take time out to plan things together. To talk about life after the exams. To hear their fears and anxieties. Help them to feel valued and supported within your family. Remind them that there is a path for them. Exams may or may not be a part of it.
  6. Young people taking exams are quite likely to be extra moody or sensitive, maybe even rude, and may not show any interest in family pursuits or in their siblings. Try to support other children to understand what they are going through and maintain ground rules of respect within the home. It is okay for your young person to feel overwhelmed and act out these feelings, but they have to respect that they cannot make others’ lives a misery during exam time as it can be a lengthy few weeks. You know your child best, and some young people can experience particular stress around exams, so if their behaviour changes to an extent or there is anything that causes you particular concern, talk with them and seek professional supports.
  7. As parents, we need to look after ourselves during our children’s exams too. If you are feeling anxious about this time yourself, remember that exams are not just what life is about. They are, of course, very important pathways towards achievement in our society but if your child is not keen on them, try to remember that we have our lives and they have theirs. We always simply want what is best for them but we cannot force them to study, and may alienate them if we push too hard. Take time out for you during exam time. Self care – ‘parenting the self‘ – is the key to positive parenting, especially in challenging times.
  8. For parents who are sharing parenting, this may be a time to talk about establishing more flexible parenting patterns for a short while. It may not be ideal for the young person to move between homes during these weeks. Maybe one home is quieter than the other; maybe one parent has more time at home than the other. Naturally you will both want what is right for your child and work to put aside any difficulties that may exist or arise sharing parenting at this time.
  9. Celebrate with your child before the exams start. Tell them how proud you are of their achievements to date. Remind them of all they have achieved and what a wonderful person they are. Building your child’s confidence levels now can go a long way towards successful outcomes in the future.
  10. It is important that we trust our children. Sometimes we have to step back to allow them to take the lead. If they are taking the early exams such as Junior Cert, this is all new to them – it’s the first big exam they have ever sat. Even if they are in first year, taking end of term exams is a big deal. Trust that they will be fine. If they don’t make the effort, they will know that they didn’t and usually learn from this. The key here is to work with them around their confidence and their sense of how valued they feel in this world. When our children believe in themselves and know that we believe in them, they will succeed, whatever path they choose.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Monday 11 May from 11am-12pm on NEW One Family Parenting Group. Join in and post your question.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email