Liberty X singer and mum-of-two Michelle Heaton shares her top tips for what to do during the summer holidays
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Every year, school children across the UK look forward to an extended break from the classroom during the summer holidays. At the same time, their parents and carers feel a sense of panic as they wonder how they are going to keep their little ones entertained for weeks on end without breaking the bank.
These concerns are likely to be heightened this year due to the on-going cost of living crisis and rising inflation, which means budgets are still being pushed to their limits in a way that leaves many struggling to make ends meet.
In addition to this, there is always a worry about the weather. On one hand, the Met Office has warned 40C heat will become more common during summer in the UK, but on the other hand there always seems to be plenty of rain throughout the country during the summer months too. With either of these scenarios, you’re unlikely to want to be outside with your family so you need to be able to plan fun activities for indoor locations, as well as optimistically still planning some outdoor pursuits for the days when the weather is (hopefully) just right for playtime.
With all of this in mind, NationalWorld has spoken to Liberty X singer and mum-of-two Michelle Heaton, who knows only too well how tricky it can be to keep the kids entertained all summer long, no matter what the weather forecast says or what your bank balance looks like. Heaton shares her children, daughter Faith, 11, and son AJ, 9, with her husband Hugh Hanley. Here’s what she had to say.
‘I want us all to have fun’
Heaton’s first suggestion is to always try to do something to get everybody exercising, and to try to find an activity that the kids enjoy - but also don’t neglect traditional favourite pastimes which are guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser for children and adults alike.
She says: “When the weather’s not great we do like going to the cinema, but we do like indoor paddle tennis, actually, as a family. It’s competitive, everyone can be good at it because the ball doesn’t go out of court so it’s a really good way of getting the kids some exercise and participating as a family. You can’t help but enjoy yourself because you’ve got to move.”
It’s also key to try and get all family members involved with the same activity in some way to ensure that everyone gets quality time together and family time doesn’t have to be divided. This could also save money as it may prevent different members of the family going to different places to pay for different activities, and also potentially using two cars and therefore paying for two lots of fuel. There may also be discounts to be had for some activities if families attend together, which wouldn’t be applicable for one adult and one child, for example.
Heaton says her husband and her son like golf and while this isn’t an activity of choice for herself and her daughter they all still go to the golf course during the summer. “Hugh and AJ are keen golfers and they’re actually very, very good so I don’t golf, I let them go off and do their own nine holes. The other day, Hugh and AJ went and did their nine holes and me and Faith came along and just walked with them and it was just really nice. It wasn’t a fast activity but it was good to be outside and we all got involved.”
Heaton adds that the most important thing is to ensure that children are happy and everyone is getting along. “I now, with age, have come to accept that all I want is a happy time. I want the kids to not argue and I want us all to have fun.”
‘Present them with a different opportunity’
Another problem that parents and carers battle with during the summer in modern society is how to make sure their little ones aren’t spending too much time watching the TV, playing on games consoles and using their phones. In a tech-obsessed world it can be tricky to persuade the kids to go and do something that doesn’t involve a screen, especially if they have grown up with gadgets, but with some experts growing concerned about social media addiction, it’s never been more important to keep screen time limited.
Heaton says the struggle to get youngsters away from screens is something all parents share. She adds: “Screen time has its advantages, I can get on with the cleaning and the washing and things like that, but what you don’t want is the kids to be on it all day. Unfortunately, to get them off, you’ve got to present them with a different opportunity - whether that’s going bowling or going for a walk with the dog, for example.
She suggests parents and carers should “entice” their children away from the screen with a fun activity as an alternative and “drop them in little favours” too. So, for example, if they go for a walk with the dog then play a board game when you get home. “There’s no point in trying to get them off the screen if we’re not presenting them with different ideas to go along with it to make them want to come off the screen,” she adds.