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Daily life in the school holidays

We are excited to share a vlog from Penelope Hart-Spencer, who is a Health Play Specialist.

School holidays, particularly in the summer, can seem to be endless, trying to keep your children occupied and happy.

This can be even more of a challenge if your child, or one of your children, is also dealing with a brain tumour and its treatment.

We are excited to share with you a vlog from Penelope Hart-Spencer, who is a Health Play Specialist with experience of working with children with a brain tumour.

In her vlog she talks about making the summer holidays more manageable and shares her top tips and activity ideas for the whole family.

Penelope’s top tips

Take each day as it comes

Penelope suggests taking each day as it comes as children with a brain tumour may sometimes feel unwell and it is difficult to plan ahead for this. To reduce pressure on yourself and your family, instead of committing to lots of plans, just wake up in the morning and see how your child is feeling and how much energy they have.

Play and be creative

Being creative is a great way for children to express themselves, it could be arts and crafts, role play or expressive play. It is fun for the whole family to get involved and make memories. Penelope shares some ideas of ways to get creative at home in her vlog.

Have rest days and relax

It’s important to plan rest days and make time to relax and recharge after bigger activities but you can still have fun! In the vlog, Penelope suggests ideas for low impact activities suitable for rest days.

Be kind to yourself

Take the pressure off and enjoy spending time with your family over the holidays!

Additional tips from Penelope

Get some colourful chalks and chalk draw the patio or garden walls. This is a great low energy activity which is visually impressive and can really brighten a yard or garden. We’ve done this outside the entrance to the hospital and my little patients love to do this!

If anyone has a child who loves playing with small cars.. It’s also great fun to use duct tape and make racing ‘tracks’ on the floor.. you can keep the tracks straight or make more intricate tracks.. We often do this in our clinic area and the children really enjoy it.

Tips if your child is in hospital during the holidays

I would ask to speak with the play specialist team and ask them to plan a play programme for your child. This will make sure your child has access to play that will stimulate his/her creativity and nurture their development on a daily basis. They will be able to plan activities that you can do together with your child and can also plan things that are based around your child’s likes and interests.

If there is an outdoor play area or space, I would definitely recommend asking the play team if they can facilitate outdoor play for you and your child. The change of scenery and fresh air will be great for you and your child.

If there isn’t an outdoor space – activities can be done by the bedside or in the play room. These would be dependent on the child’s age and stage of development, but should always be engaging and fun. Creative crafts are great for children who are inpatients, as they can build up a gallery of their creations and pictures, and paintings really brighten up bed spaces on wards and allow children to customise their spaces.

I would also recommend adult colouring books for parents who are spending lots of time on a ward or in side rooms with their child. They are very relaxing and many of the parents I work with find them very therapeutic and a great stress reliever to engage in when their child is asleep or busy with physio or occupational therapy.

Helen’s blog

We also have a blog from a parent. This is a poem written by Helen, who is mum to Leo. It is about Leo and his brother’s plans for the summer holidays. Leo was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 and after surgery and chemotherapy they are all looking forward to a summer together without treatment.

We hope you may find some inspiration in this poem for things to do together as a family over the summer holidays, wherever you and your family are on your brain tumour journeys.

Leo’s Summer Box

(Based on Magic Box by Kit Wright).

This summer, I will put in my box….
Happy screams as I jump into the swimming pool,
Echoing laughs as I shoot out of the highest tunnel slide,
A satisfied silence as I lick my ice cream before it melts.

I will put in the box…
My brother’s white tooth when it finally falls out,
My favourite foods- pasta, carrots, sour sweeties and chocolate,
Adventures with my best friends, Archie and Lottie.

I will put in my box…
A family trip to Legoland,
Bike rides with Nana Susan,
And welly boot land with Nana Chris.

My box is fashioned from Captain America’s shield,
It was built with Thor’s hammer and decorated with Spider-Man’s webs.
It has superpowers in the corners, and no kryptonite in sight.

In my box there are no hospitals, tablets, needles or anaesthetics,
There is no illness, sickness or pain.
I shall swim, jump, run and bounce in my box,
I will laugh, play, tickle and giggle.

I will make the most of every moment,
From waking everyone up in the morning,
To snuggling up reading Mr Men adventures together at bedtime.

There are some other charities that also have some good ideas of things to do in the holidays. Pick the activities that suit you and your child, and have fun!

If you have further questions, please contact the Children and Families Team on 0808 800 0004
or childrenandfamilies@thebraintumourcharity.org