The Only Way To Survive The Summer Holidays: The Jigsaw Technique

The Only Way To Survive The Summer holidays: The Jigsaw Technique

By working mum Tracey Blake


Staring down the barrel of six weeks of school holidays and starting to panic?

With most schools breaking up this week and next, the reality is biting as stressed working parents frantically check their diaries and wonder who can have their little darlings while they go to that urgent meeting with a buyer in London or that conference in Birmingham.

So, what to do? I’m a staunch advocate of The Jigsaw Technique – get it right and it will keep your children entertained, your sanity intact AND your job/business/career ticking over. Here are the six pieces of the puzzle that you need to slot together…


Your family holiday

The lynch-pin of every Summer holiday is of course the actual holiday, so cross out the days when you are away (whether it’s camping in Dorset or a trip to the Costas) on your calendar and begin looking at the other weeks.


Holiday camps

Organised camps can be a godsend for busy parents and there seem to be more launching every year. When you drive around keep your eyes peeled for signs by local schools – many of which will be running camps for most of the Summer. Warning, they can be pricey, and most of them still finish at 3pm so you may also need to organise pick ups/wrap around care til you get home. Lastly, they can be full-on and pretty tiring for kids so one week at a camp is probably enough – if you need more cover try mixing it up with a different camp or book one week at the beginning of the holiday and one at the end. The Jigsaw technique is all about variety!


Club camps

Whether your child belongs to a gym/cricket/football or tennis club chances are that these establishments will also be muscling in on the summer camp market. And you know your child loves this activity, knows people at the club and knows what to expect so it’s pretty much a dead cert that they will have a ball. Got young siblings who don’t play the sport? Send them too and they may soon have a new hobby!



This is the time to call on your Mama friends. Got a few days to fill? Text a friend the dates and see if she can have your child over to play and don’t forget to offer up three of four dates when you could return the favour.


A Student Nanny

Full disclosure, is my business! We connect working parents with local university students for ‘smart’ flexible after-school and school holiday childcare – a godsend in the Summer when you need an extra pair of hands to manage those aforementioned pick-ups from clubs and when you just want them to have a few quiet days at home with the odd trip to the park or the local swimming pool.

Doing nothing!

Still got some childcare gaps on your calendar? Excellent news! Because while it’s great to have lots of activities booked, remember that most children are knackered after the long Summer term and they do need a few days when they just potter around the house, play with their toys, sit in the paddling pool in the garden, watch TV etc. A little bit of doing nothing can be very restorative plus it’s good for them to entertain themselves sometimes. And if that means a day of watching DVDs then so be it – lose the working mum guilt and relax, it’s your Summer too!


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Follow Tracey on Instagram @motherofallstartups



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