WHILE most parents are stressing out over organising activities to keep their kids entertained during the summer holidays, Lucy Dartford takes a far more relaxed approach to parenting.
During the holidays the PR specialist is a self-confessed ‘lazy mum’, and lets her four-year-old daughter Zuri decide what she wants to do – whether it’s choosing her bedtime, having a lie-in or eating leftover takeaway pizza for breakfast.
Four-year-old Zuri is excited to start school in September, and has the freedom during holidays to make her own choicesCredit: Lucy Dartford
While some people find the approach surprising, single mum Lucy, 38, believes it’s healthy to give Zuri the freedom to grow and find out who she is and in turn find out for herself what her own personality and interests are.
‘There’s no harm in a bit of freedom’
Lucy, who lives in London, says: “During term time kids have so much routine usually, and it’s quite full-on, especially for young children like Zuri.
“They have to wake up at a certain time, get ready for nursery or school, breakfast is always at a certain time, which is of course healthy.
“However, for me when it comes to summer holidays, I don’t think there’s any harm in letting them have the freedom to decide what to do and it’s really brought out the best side in Zuri.
“It’s a chance to have a break from her usual going to nursery routine, and so nice not to have to force her to stick to a strict daily schedule.”
‘Leftover pizza for breakfast? Fine by me!’
While Zuri is given the opportunity to test the boundaries in school holidays, Lucy says there are of course limits.
She says: “My approach is everything within reason.
“I’m sure a lot of parents can also relate to the feeling of not wanting to cook, so we might order a takeaway.
Lucy’s relaxed approach means pizza for breakfast is a possibility in the holidaysCredit: Lucy Dartford
“Then, if there’s any left, Zuri might say she doesn’t want cereal for breakfast and would prefer pizza – as long as she has a cup of water and a piece of fruit too, that’s absolutely fine by me.
“She’s eaten, she’s happy, there haven’t been any tantrums – I think I’d obviously draw the line if she asked to eat an entire chocolate cake or something for breakfast, but it’s all about balance!”
Lucy’s relaxed approach to their summer holiday routine also extends to bedtime.
Lucy says: “She doesn’t really have a set bedtime in the summer, and I’m not going to force a specific time.
“Sometimes she also asks for a lie-in, and again, that’s fine by me – it’s very much led by her, and it just works.”
‘I just let her do her own thing’
The results, say Lucy, are a happy daughter – and mum.
She says: “It’s transformed her into a really independent, happy-go-lucky, chilled little girl, that is so excited about starting school in September.
“I just let her do her own thing, and she likes watching films and has her own iPad but thankfully she loves activities like colouring and making potions.
“We also have play dates with friends, but there’s never any pressure with timings.
“It is a choice but I’m also a single, working mum so sometimes it means routine has to go out the window in the holidays, as childcare is limited.
“People are surprised sometimes and ask how it works, but it just does.
“She’s becoming her own person, and as we know from the pandemic, life can throw things at us that can disrupt routine, so it’s important children know how to cope with that disruption too.
“Out of the blue everything can be thrown up in the air, and knowing how to deal with that is a huge life skill in itself.”
Zuri is a happy, confident little girl, who is learning to make her own choicesCredit: Lucy Dartford