Hacks For a Harmonious Half-Term
Contura Lifestyle Expert shares tips for a Scandi-style stress-free half-term.
Panicked about how to keep the kids entertained this half term? Desperately trying to find outings that don’t cost the earth? Scrabbling around for recycling materials for some craft projects but dreading the mess…?
If there’s one region that seems to have nailed straight-forward, balanced, happy living, it’s the Scandinavians. And that extends to keeping a contented home during school holidays.
Catharina Bjorkman, lifestyle expert at Contura, Swedish wood burning stove brand, says: “Half term should ideally be a time to have some fun and enjoy spending quality time as a family, but more often than not, it’s just plain stressful.
“There’s nothing worse than panicking about childcare, juggling work stresses, wasting the days off you do have trying to decide what to do, or blowing the budget on impromptu cinema trips and meals out. But with a little organisation and a touch of the Scandi mind-set, you’ll find it easier to sit back and focus on having fun as a family.”
Here, Catharina shares her cheap and cheerful ways to keep you and your family happy throughout the half-term break, Scandi style.
Organisation is key
A school holiday should not mean you end up out of pocket, so first things first, it’s important to have a plan in place. This can be kept flexible depending on days off, weather, public transport, last minute invites, etc. but will help you budget for the week and ensure you don’t waste time or money.
There is no doubt that children love to please and thrive on routine. Make a checklist each day of all the things that need to get done. Mix up the mundane with the fun and allow for a treat if they manage to get through the checklist. They will love the satisfaction of ticking off items, which also works to reduce the need for nagging and negotiating. Try something like this:
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Bake & decorate cupcakes
- Scoot to the park
- Home for lunch
- Eat cupcakes!
- Games session
- Tidy room
- Bath & PJsMovie dinner!
- Reading & cuddles
Form a team
Don’t suffer in silence – taking a full week off work just isn’t possible for everyone. But don’t panic; chances are there many parents in the same boat. Ask around if anyone can take your kids for one day and return the favour for them later in the week.
You can also join forces. Arrange playdates to share the load of entertaining the kids and managing mealtimes with another grown-up. .
Mix and Match sleepovers
Kids will invariably behave better with peers than with siblings or parents, so if you have friends, family or fellow class parents with children of similar ages, mix them up and host one pair, sending the sibling to stay at their buddy’s house. The harmonious play of friends will dramatically reduce the rivalry and bickering, which will mean much less negotiation and mediation on the part of the adults looking after them.
Dividing and conquering this way might even give you the opportunity to enjoy a quiet evening with a glass of wine and your favourite boxset!
Activities: Think cheap, cheerful and engaging
There are lots of activities or outings that don’t require a big outlay of cash. Try some of the following. Kids love most activity where their grown-ups are able to give them undivided attention, so it’s really all about trying to put the phone away to ensure you can’t be distracted by work emails or social media…
- Get Busy in the Kitchen
Baking is a sure-fire way to entertain kids – who doesn’t delight in getting messy and the promise of a sweet treat?
But remember the one rule for baking with children, keep it simple. The aim is to have fun, not create a culinary masterpiece. Fairy cakes are a classic and straight-forward to make. Mix it up with different flavoured icings and toppings.
- Head Outdoors
Spending time outdoors is an important part of Scandinavian culture, thanks to allemänstratten or The Right to Public Access, Swedes can roam the countryside largely without restriction. While this isn’t always so straight-forward in the UK, a visit to the local park, farm, or country estate, is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. And don’t forget a picnic!
If the weather is a little gloomy, just remember the popular Swedish mantra: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”.
- Spend the Night Under the Stars
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make the most of it by setting up camp for the night. No need to splash out on a fancy tent; if the weather is warm and dry, a groundsheet and warm sleeping bags will be all you need.
Ensure you switch off all the lights in your house to minimise light pollution, which could affect your view of the stars. And to get the kids even more excited, plan a ‘midnight’ feast around bedtime, with all their favourite nibbles.
If you don’t have a garden, build a cosy den in the living room and have a sleepover there!
- Get Crafty
Encouraging children to embrace their creative side doesn’t have to mean hours spent cleaning up and risking a ruined carpet.
Beads are inexpensive, as is cotton thread, and kids are utterly absorbed when tasked with creating their own jewellery. Loom bands are another popular crafting activity and let’s face it, are just as fun to make as an adult.
If all else fails, get out some paper and colouring pencils. The perfect activity to ensure peace and quiet for an hour or two.
- Family Games Sessions
One thing’s for sure, all kids love a family game session. Make it more interesting than a standard board game and teach them one of your childhood favourites. Think ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’, ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’, ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ and ‘Please Mr Crocodile’.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try creating your very own obstacle course. If it’s inside, remember to move any breakables!
Fregagsmys is a non-negotiable custom in Sweden, and whether you’ve had the whole week off with the kids or signed them up to a local kid’s club, it’s the perfect way to unwind and spend quality cuddle time after a busy week off school.
It involves settling down on the sofa with loved ones and enjoying some Friday night television and downtime. Not forgetting the array of snacks that should be on offer; namely, tacos. While they may not be a traditional Scandi dish, they are an extremely popular part of fredagsmys as they are cheap, quick, delicious, and can be adapted to suit all tastes (demands!) – everything a Friday night dinner should be.
For more information on Contura, visit www.contura.eu
Notes to editors:
- Rooster PR will coordinate comment, interview and profile opportunities for Contura UK Country Manager, Phil Wood. The Contura PR team will also arrange visits to the nearest Contura Design Centre dealerships or the Contura showroom in Doncaster to see the product range.
- Sources detailed in footnotes.
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Contura is Europe’s leading manufacturer of wood burning stoves, offering an extensive range of classic and contemporary wood burners; from traditional insert stoves suitable for existing fireplaces, to freestanding statement models made with innovative materials such as soapstone.
Starting at £1,295, Contura stoves are premium yet affordable. Award winning, timeless Swedish design means the products complement or enhance any style of home, whilst also offering outstanding performance, maximum efficiency, practicality and ease of use.
Designed and assembled at the factory located in Markaryd, Sweden, and manufactured to the highest standards, Contura stoves are highly energy efficient, offering powerful convection, superior combustion technology and clean burning systems. Currently, 95% of Contura stoves are DEFRA Clean Air Act exempt and thus approved for use in Smoke Control Areas.
Contura stoves can be purchased through a network of 165 independent retailers nationwide.
Contura is part of the NIBE group, a Swedish manufacturing company producing world class solutions in sustainable energy across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
Contura is a founding member of the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) in the UK.
For more information please visit www.contura.eu