Are you a parent who longs for the summer school holidays to start so that you can spend some quality time with your kids? Or do you have a sense of impending dread knowing that your usual routine is about to be turned on its head?

I'm probably someplace between the two. I loved summer holidays when I was a kid. It meant playing out in the street with my friends, eating ice pops, cooling off in paddling pools, roller skating, bike racing, long rounds of ackee 123 and staying in self catering cottages, in the middle of nowhere, for a couple of weeks.

I have absolutely no idea if my mum enjoyed the school holidays or was simply surviving them. As a working mum of four, one of whom has ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) the summer holidays have posed quite a challenge over the years.

Here are some tips for surviving the holidays, Yorkshire style:

  • Get out of the house if you can! Going anywhere crowded on my own with four children was never going to work so our days out usually involved picnics, blankets, walking boots and a car ride to a quiet wide open space. These places of calm where there was no one around to pull a judgy face if my children became fractious were where we had the best times. Our favourite days out places include: Bolton Abbey, Ilkley Moor, Otley Chevin, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Brimham Rocks (although a bit stressful if you don't like the combination of children and heights!), Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.                         

  • If the thought of a full day out on your own with kids leaves you trembling, a short trip out to the local park to have a change of scene and allow the kids to let off some steam is worth a punt.
  • Think about how much screen time you want to allow. When Edward was at primary school I did limit screen time as he would simply have been on-screen all day every day except for when he went to the toilet given the chance. I used to allow two hours a day. As a teenager I have to admit this has slipped and he now spends A LOT more time on his computer in the holidays. He will come on trips out with the rest of us but only if I explain exactly what we will be doing and when we will be returning. I then have to stick to these plans precisely as deviations are BAD for all of us.
  • If you have another adult around who can help keep an eye on a couple of your children this can reduce the sense of being hopelessly outnumbered and can make trips to museums or busier places possible. These were our favourite places to visit when the kids were younger: Leeds City Museum, The Royal Armories, Abbey House Museum, Temple Newsam Farm, Tropical World and we also managed to traumatise all our children with a visit to Thackray Medical Museum a few years ago which has ever since been referred to as "The place of the Unmentionable". (If you have a child who likes gore and historical horror by all means take them along!)
  • Form some holiday rituals that everyone looks forward to. We are a family of book lovers so in the first week of most holidays we have a family trip to Waterstones. We end up spending about 90 minutes browsing and generally loping around until everyone has chosen their holiday read.  This ritual only started when the twins turned nine years old  - before then I'd have had some seriously bored kids on my hands if I'd tried to pull this one on them!
  • Another ritual which we've done for years is the annual day trip to Whitby which has to happen in the first week of the school summer holidays (ideally on the very first day) where we will do exactly the same thing as we've always done; picnic on the beach, swim in the sea, a browse in the well-stocked Whitby bookshop and to end the day an obligatory fish and chips supper on the sea front whilst dodging the increasingly menacing sea gulls. Perfect!
  • Don't feel under pressure to schedule in non-stop activities for your kids even if they tell you they're bored. I'm a great believer in allowing my kids to switch off from the bombardment of the outside world when the holidays come round. I don't mind them having the chance to daydream so that they can pursue their own thoughts and occupations. I do slightly mind the fact that the bottom of my garden was transformed by the kids into a mini shanty town last summer complete with fire pit and seating area (not in an award-winning kind of way) - I'm waiting to see if this ramshackle part of our garden will be "revitalised" this year!

I hope you manage to form some good memories this summer.

Don't forget that for every smiling photo on social media of a "perfect" family having the "perfect" holiday there are plenty more undocumented and never to be shared "helliday" moments taking place up and down the country!

Lynne is a Speech and Language Therapist and a mother to 4 children. Her eldest son is on the Autistic Spectrum. Lynne has a blog full of funny tales of family life dotted with little nuggets of wisdom, that was recently nominated for a Bloody Awesome Parents Award (BAPS). Read Lynne's blog here.