Surviving the summer holidays

Catherine and her children stand in their garden
Catherine, Ben and Pippa enjoying the summer holidays

How can I stop the children from getting bored over the summer on a budget? How do I keep them hopeful even though there is doom and gloom all around? Catherine from our Theology team shares her thoughts on these difficult questions.

The summer holidays are in full swing and while I always start with the hope that this year will be the year that will be filled with endless sunny days watching my children play nicely together outside, the reality is definitely less idyllic. 

As I listen to the cries of “I’m bored” or “It’s not fair”, the search for activities to keep Ben, seven, and Pippa, five, entertained can feel endless.

There have been trips to see their grandparents, as well as some days in holiday club, so that I could actually get some work done. And while the rest of the time they seem more than happy to have endless hours of screentime, that doesn’t do my parental guilt levels any good. 

It would be nice to have a ready-made activity that doesn’t cost the earth for those times when they just won’t amuse themselves and I can’t bear the thought of taking part in another game of make believe. I’m always being told off for doing it ‘wrong’! 

Time to talk

Ben in particular has always asked endless questions, but as he’s getting older, they’re starting to get more complex. In the last few months he’s covered the war in Ukraine, that he’s heard the price of everything is going up and does that mean we’ll run out of money. Climate change. Politics and what the Prime Minister has been up to. And where God is in all this.  

Where do I even start? It’s a daunting prospect. It can feel a bit like we’re being constantly bombarded with endless bad news, I want to be honest with the children but I’m also wary of frightening them. So how do we keep some hope? 

Luckily for me, my colleagues have put together a set of creative ideas for the summer. They combine fun activities to keep the children occupied and entertained, with a prayer focus which inspires us to show our love for the earth and all the people in it. So, I decided to give some of them a try. 

Check out our family prayer resources for the summer.

The power of love

The children pull faces as they suck on lemons.

My children love food, and we had great fun with the “Taste and see” activity. We sucked on some lemons and pulled funny faces, before sharing the things that make us sad in our own lives and in the world around us. Like the fact that so many people around the world don’t have enough food to eat. 

World food crisis: how you can help.

Then we opened a packet of sweeties and as we enjoyed munching on them, we listed all the things that bring us joy or give us hope, thanking God for them. We particularly talked about the power of love. How it shines brightly and brings people together even in the darkest moments. 

One of the things that we like to do as a family when things are tough is to turn up the music loud and dance around the kitchen. We have an eclectic taste. Ben’s current favourite is Smells like teen spirit by Nirvana – that’s definitely my husband’s influence – while Pippa likes to sing along to George Ezra, and I love a bit of 80s and 90s pop. 

What keeps you going in the difficult times? Nirma from Venezuela shares her top tracks for getting through the tough moments.

Splash about

In the hot weather, water play is also always a firm favourite. Whether it’s jumping in the paddling pool, squirting each other with water pistols or giving some of the toys a bath.  

Pippa splashes in the paddling pool

CAFOD has also provided plenty more water themed ideas to choose from, and we have had great fun splashing about, making boats and blowing bubbles. 

My children constantly humble me. They have a capacity of love for their friends, family and total strangers that always amazes me. It was wonderful to be reminded of this again through these activities and to recognise just how powerful love is. It can make a difference and change the world. 

Something for everyone

Whether your family is into photography,paper dolls, building bricks or bug hunting in the great outdoors, there is an activity to suit children of all ages and interests. There are also ideas to help you mark the Feast of the Assumption together.   

I know that I will be trying more of these with my children and I hope you find something that works for you too.  

Here at CAFOD we’d love to hear what you think about these resources. Do share photos of your family taking part on social media at #CAFODFamilyPrayer or email us at

Use our family prayer resources this summer.

One thought on “Surviving the summer holidays”

  1. Catherine, these are lovely ideas for enjoying the summer with your family. The local library is also a great resource and there are often many free activities for children there. The school holidays with my own children were some of the happiest days of my life. Enjoy these days together and I can guarantee that your children will grow to be happy, loving and well balanced individuals.

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