Parenting | How to make day trips run smoothly

llama-935947_1920How many times have you taken your children on a day trip and five minutes after you arrive, or five minutes into the car trip, you feel like saying, “That’s it! We are going home.” We put time, energy and costs into organising days out, yet it can sometimes seems that your children just don’t care.

The stress of organising the event can leave you exhausted and with little energy to deal with what might be normal everyday behaviours. It becomes something bigger and you may be inclined to overreact. Coupled with this, children can be more excitable on days out. The excitement will make it harder for them to manage their emotions and behaviour. They can’t stop fighting and they won’t do what you ask of them.

Teens, on the other hand, may show no excitement. They may be so difficult to motivate, you wonder why you bothered. Feeling disheartened, you just want to go home and cry or maybe stomp about the house to let them know how angry or upset you are. The day out was not just for the children, it was for you too and you feel disappointed: you wanted this time out to relax and have fun with your children.

There are steps you can take to make things go a little smoother so the fun days out are fun from the time you wake up. Read our “10 ways to” have enjoyable days out this summer:

  1. Keep it simple. Think about what your child can cope with. If they are not use to travelling too far then don’t plan a long trip. No matter how good you think the far away venue may be, it may not be worth it. This goes for holidays too.
  2. Tell your child about the trip in advance. Some children love surprises but many don’t. If they are not aware of what is about to happen it can really upset them. Keep as many elements the same for them as possible: eat at the same times and eat the same types of food.
  3. Talk with your child about what you expect of them on the day out. Try to come up with some ways of keeping them safe but still allowing them some freedom.
  4. Dress children for play and not for photos. Too many children are over-dressed on play days out. Let them get dirty, have fun, roll in the sand. They shouldn’t come home clean; it is not a good sign! Bring spare clothes, bring the wipes and try not to worry.
  5. Dress appropriately yourself. Wearing your lovely white trousers may not be the best idea. It is all about fun, so dress in a way that supports you to relax and enjoy your time with your children.
  6. Photographs can cause lots of trouble. Take them if you can but making children pose can create stress for no reason. Fun days out will create memories in a child’s mind. They don’t need photos to have those memories. You can keep other things from the day and stick them in a scrap book to remind you of the day.
  7. If problems arise, stay calm. Think about it from your child’s point of view. Take a break, sit down for a minute and make a plan. Think about what is causing the problem. Are we hungry, are we tired? Whose needs are not been met? Can I do anything? The least you can do is acknowledge the need, if you can’t meet it at that time acknowledging it helps. If you can identify the problem and solve it things will improve.
  8. Allow them to cry; it doesn’t mean you have to leave. There are parents all around you. They know how hard it is. If you can stay calm your child will feel it and they will relax.
  9. Following on from that, stop worrying about who is watching. We put too much pressure on ourselves as parents to perform perfectly all of the time. Be the best parent you can and try not to let others knock your confidence.
  10. Do it more often!

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.

Parenting | Your teenager’s summer of freedom

youth-570881_1280This summer a whole new set of parents will experience, for the first time, their young teens at home and off school for three whole months. Teens will be so excited, but many parents may be questioning the logic of the Department of Education and their annual three month holiday for teenagers. They are still very young so they have to be monitored and cared for but how can you do this for three months and hold down a job?

Here are ’10 ways to’ support you and your teen to have an enjoyable summer:

  1. Firstly, do not panic. You have worked hard preparing your child for life. This freedom is the first real test of how responsible they can be. It may be absolutely necessary to leave them at home for part of the day while you get to work. Talk with them about keeping safe without causing fear. When they are at home go over safety rules with them. Make sure they answer their phone and check in with you. Ask them to call you if they are going out or if anyone comes over. This way at least you are aware of what is happening.
  2. It is all about demonstrating responsible behaviour. Once you see them act in this way it will support you to move forward. If they cannot be trusted alone, you will need to look at childcare options for them. They will not like having to go to a minder but if they are not capable of being home alone for a period of time you have no choice for now. Let them moan that you are being over protective and don’t trust them, that is to be expected.
  3. Aside from childminding options, check in with their friends’ parents. There are likely to be some parents at home at times. If you arrange teen dates, it could work well for everyone. Parents rather young people hang out in small groups. Talk directly to the parents yourself about any plans.
  4. Talk with relatives and see if they can go on holidays to anyone for a few days, here and there. It is good for them to get to know cousins and other relatives a little better. It would also give them some added independence to do this without you. I am sure you can return the favour at some stage.
  5. Encourage your teen to make a plan of action for the summer. What do they enjoy? Can they participate in sports, join a book club or some hobby group? Three months would be great opportunity for them to really pursue an activity they enjoy when they have time to do it. It would get them up and out of the house and keep them busy and motivated.
  6. Allow your teens to rest. Try to accept that teens are different to adults. They like to sleep late in the day, watch TV, listen to music, spend all day on their phone and sit in their pyjamas until dinner time. They can’t get a job yet so they have the luxury for a very short period in their life to enjoy doing nothing. Once they maintain the boundaries and the rules of the home they are not harming anyone. Of course they should also help with household chores as usual. Allow them dictate a little what they would like to do.
  7. Talk with them about what is appropriate for them to do and where they can hang out. Think about allowing them to travel on the bus alone, if you have not done so yet. It is scary to allow your child such freedom but unless you give them responsibilities you cannot expect them to learn. You prepare them for life by adding responsibilities layer by layer. You also get braver each day as you see them cope and make positive choices.
  8. It is not a good idea at this age to give teens the responsibility of looking after younger children. Be cautious and know that teens do not always have the patience and tolerance required to manage younger children. It may be a step too far to leave them home alone together. It may be better to look at other options around caring for younger children.
  9. Take time out with your teen this summer if you can. Get to know them as young people heading quickly towards adulthood. In a few years they will most likely have jobs and busier social lives, and parents will be far from important in their lives. Enjoy your last few summers with them.
  10. Try to think back to when you were their age. Don’t nag them and worry that their brains will freeze up over the summer with the lack of use. They will most likely be fine.

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.

Having Fun In Summer

Parenting | 10 Ways to Have Fun This Summer

Having Fun In SummerIt is easy to trudge through the summer months wishing they were over, especially when we may not have the money for a holiday at a time when it seems that everyone is going away.  However, you can still have fun over the summer months without it costing money.

  1. Try to make a conscious effort to do something different this summer. Enjoy special time with your children and do your best to put aside any worries or issues you may have going on, even for part of the day.
  2. If you live near a forest, park or even a lovely big field, why not have dinner outside some evenings? Pack a picnic style dinner or if it’s hot, wrap and run. Children love picnics and you can have so much fun afterwards running about, playing games, kicking ball, flying a kite, looking for butterflies and other creatures. Keep a scrap book of what creatures and birds you see each day.
  3. If you’re lucky enough to live near the seaside, within an hour anyway, perhaps you can schedule a weekly trip? Pack up the buckets and spades. Buy the food in the local shop before you get there or else bring your own picnic. Agree on treats in advance. Children generally love the splashing, sand, digging and diving. It can be such great fun. And there’s lots of opportunities for whale and dolphin watching in many parts of the country too.
  4. If you have a back or front garden, use it. Can you invest a little money in some new outdoor toys? Maybe put up or make a tent? Have a barbeque. Get a cheap paddling pool. Have a treasure hunt. Cloud watch and tell stories. The garden is a great area for fun activities all summer long.
  5. Climb a mountain. Most people have a hill or mountain of some sort not far from where they live. Why not plan a climbing adventure?
  6. Playgrounds can be a great resource. Even if you already go, plan to make it a very regular event over the summer months. Play with your child and support them to make friends in the playground. You will be increasing their confidence and social skills all summer. Playgrounds can also a great way to meet and interact with other parents and increase your own social network.
  7. Check out local groups who may be running trips for families. One Family have weekly outings in the summer time, at very low cost, that are lots of fun. Check out our website and join our social group. Parent and child groups often have trips, start googling what is happening in your community and check out local notice boards. If there is nothing on, try to plan a trip with some other parents.
  8. Many organisations offer quality, free activities that children enjoy such as, for example, Bat Conservation Ireland who lead free bat walks all over the country; or National Heritage Week which has a packed programme of free events in August. There are hundreds of festivals nationwide which generally have a programme strand of free entertainment or workshops for children, as do many museums and art galleries on Sunday afternoons. Local county councils/corporations/town councils also often present free, family-friendly events over the summer time. Swimming pools and libraries usually do too. Take some time to engage with services in your community. You might be surprised by what they have to offer.
  9. Talk with your children and hear what they would like the summer to be like. You can have lots of fun on a budget, and children will really feel they have had different experiences and want to share them with others.
  10. Most of all, take time with your children this Summer. Enjoy them and experience all the fun times that parenting can bring, as too often we are bogged down with the challenges, especially when parenting alone or sharing parenting.

Next you might to read: 10 Ways to Make The Most Of School Breaks

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 29 June from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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