Surviving The Summer Holidays As A Single Parent

By Demelza Desforges - MIN Ambassador, 18th July 2022.

Surviving The Summer Holidays As A Single Parent

As the children get excited about the summer holidays, the end of the school year can bring up feelings of dread for parents. Without the school routine, life at home can rapidly descend into chaos. This surrounding anxiety can be more intense for single mums. If you have fled domestic violence, you may still be enduring post-separation abuse. This has a huge impact on your family life and while it can feel like you are fighting a losing battle, have hope; you’ve got this! 

To make things a bit more manageable, here are a few tips on how to cope with the summer holidays and ideas to keep the children entertained. 

Handy Tips:

Keep it simple: 

Make your life as easy as possible while ensuring your kids are content. Don’t overcomplicate things and accept that sometimes there will be setbacks. Everybody makes mistakes. Teach your kids that that’s ok. Meet problems with humour, and don’t let challenges get you down. Whether you are parenting toddlers, teenagers or a mix of kids of all ages, it is important that you try to relax and have fun. When you are calm and happy it is more likely that your children will be too. 

Plan, but not too much: 

Have an outline for each day, even if it is just ‘stay in PJ’s today’. Stay flexible and go with the flow. 

Nurture your children: 

As a survivor of domestic abuse you may feel like the life you had dreamed for your children has been destroyed. Try and put that aside and focus on the things that you are able to do for them. Don’t underestimate yourself: as well as providing shelter, food and warmth for your child/ren, you are also showing them that you are strong. Every day they see you building a life for them. You are teaching them that a healthy life away from abuse is possible and this is important to secure a safe future for them. 

Give your Time: 

It is crucial to spend time with your children. ‘Get down with the kids’ Participate in their lives, play in their games and involve them in your own activities. Your little ones just want quality time with you. Share with them who you really are and get to know them as much as possible. They will remember the memories of nice moments spent with you over any expensive exotic holiday. 


While it is important to spend time together, everyone needs time and space to recharge. Allow siblings to have time away from each other. You need to decompress too. Even if it is a quick moment in the bathroom to take some deep breaths, gather your thoughts and recompose yourself.


The cost of living crisis is making it difficult for households to make ends meet. As a single mum you may also be experiencing financial abuse. Assess what resources you have and try to stretch them as much as possible. 

If you are struggling for food or essentials such as toilet paper, nappies, sanitary products etc. Don’t feel bad about yourself, this isn’t your fault. It is ok to ask for help. Friendly MIN staff can refer you to a local food bank. They will not judge you. 

Create boundaries: 

Children need limits, it helps them feel safe. Make some rules and support children to stick to these with positive reinforcement. 

If you are going through post -separation abuse, the other parent may be ‘counter parenting’. You don’t need to compensate for the abusive behaviour. 

Stay strong with your boundaries and be prepared for meltdowns or arguments.  Encourage and support your children. Be affectionate when they are physically or emotionally hurt. Provide positive affirmations. Show your love for them. 


Make yourself a self-care toolkit to use when you can. If you feel you are going to lose your patience, take a deep breath and count to ten.

Teach your kids to feel and manage their emotions. It is ok to be angry or sad, we just need to find healthy ways of expressing these feelings, whether it be through arts, crafts, exercise or words. 

Give yourself a break too - even if you are working through the holidays you won’t have to do school runs and things can be a bit more laid-back. Don’t feel guilty for putting yourself first and relaxing. Your kids will be more chilled if they sense that you are relaxed.

If your child visits their other parent make sure you take some time to recharge. 

Consider booking a day off just for you if you are a working mum. Know your rights. 

If your kids don’t see the other parent do you have any friends or family members that could help you out? If that’s not an option perhaps you could arrange some playdates for your children?

Get moving and keep learning: 

Life is about evolution, development, learning and growth. Even though school’s out, continue to use any opportunity to empower your kids. Teach them life skills and give them the thirst for knowledge. It is never too soon for children to learn about keeping themselves safe. 

Stay active each day. Go swimming, ice skating, cycling or to a trampoline place but if you need to do something free then go for long walks around where you live and really make the most of your area. Do star jumps in the living room. Dance around the house. Get into Geocaching perhaps. 

Activity Ideas:

Outdoor play ideas:

Water play:

If you have a garden and it is a hot day you could fill up some plastic buckets or washing up bowls and use them to dip your feet in cold water or use a hose pipe as a sprinkler to keep cool. If you don’t have a garden, take some games to the local park. Lay a couple of towels or even a sheet in the garden or take it to your local park to have a picnic.  If you have toddlers - summer is the perfect time to start potty training.

Go on a nature trail - build a den:  

There are some fun things you can download to support this activity. 

Visit Heeley farm or Graves park: 

Go to see the animals. With soaring petrol costs you may prefer taking the bus. If  money is tight, find out where your local parks are and take a picnic. Click here for a full list. 

Check the weather: 

Find out what the weather is likely to be like so you don’t get caught out. If you get stuck in the rain, make the best of it, run through the downpour and enjoy some warm showers. Prepare for the heatwave by keeping your curtains/blinds closed during the day. Make sure you are out of the sun when the sun is at its hottest and wear sun protection

Get involved in your local community

It feels good to be part of a wider group and to help a good cause. Encourage your children to give back and be active players in life. It will make them feel good to know that they are not the only ones who have struggles in life and also will build up their self esteem if they can help others. Perhaps they may want to do a litter pick in your local area (just make sure you stay safe while doing this) 

Sheffield is a City of Sanctuary perhaps there is something there that you would like to get involved in. 

You don't have to be busy ALL of the time:

Don’t put yourself under loads of pressure to keep your kids busy all the time. It’s ok for children to have nothing to do sometimes. Getting bored can help them get creative and inventive with their time. When the children are misbehaving or angry maybe they need a nap, a snack or bit of support or a little chat. 

Indoor play activities

Prepare food together:

It could be  something simple like cucumber sandwiches or something more challenging like home made pizzas. Children can help make their own ice lollies.

Share chores:

Get everyone to help with the house jobs. Stay on top of things by having a quick communal clean up after dinner and get the children to help clean up after an activity. This teaches age appropriate responsibility and life skills. If the mood gets too heavy, put on your favourite music so you can dance and sing while doing the jobs to make it more enjoyable.  

Messy play:

Lay out a waterproof ground sheet or use some bin bags and cardboard to protect your floor. You could make salt dough, or slime

Make bedtimes fun

Read a story to them and put on different voices for the different characters. If you have a tent you could pitch it up in your living room (or garden) if you don’t have a tent build a fort and let them sleep in it or put all the sofa cushions on the floor and have a family sleepover. Use recycled materials to make props. 


Take your kids to the library.

Or if you can’t get out of the house create your own home library - you could get creative and make tickets to check books in and out - have fun

Conversation Cards:

Conversation cards are a fun and playful way for children to practise sharing their thoughts and feelings with others. The cards provide open-ended sentence starters that encourage conversation- supporting the child's social and emotional development. 

Mums In Need have conversation cards that are available to buy from their website for only £9.99.  

Make memories:

Encourage your children to make a scrapbook or write a little diary. If they can’t write they could do a drawing a day instead. It doesn’t even have to be every day, just have fun with it. Take photos, create videos, one day the children will be all grown up and you will wonder where the time went. It will be fun for them to look back on these mementos. 

To sum(mer) up: 

Holidays when you have children can be really challenging but you are not alone to feel this way. Recognise your efforts and give yourself the credit you deserve. When things get tough, make light of the difficult situations and turn things into a game. Make the most of the holidays. It’s a great time to strengthen your bond with your child/ren and make positive memories for them. Document the times as much as possible, they won’t last forever.  Before you know it you will be back doing school runs and prepping uniforms.

So keep remembering that you are doing your best in a challenging situation and if you need help, it is available, you just need to reach out. 

Find out more about  how Mums In Need can help, here.