The excitement of anticipating the summer holidays can only be matched, and all too often exceeded, by excruciating boredom once they arrive.

And while some might say children these days are overorganised and miss the luxury of boredom, my response is they have never been in the company of a child who has nothing to do.

Almost anything is preferable.

And almost anything means planning.

Clearly, this is the last thing a working or full-time mother wants to do, but it saves tears at bedtime for the child and for you.

It will also increase the chances of your enjoying the weeks ahead.

The following action list is by no means exhaustive but may bring you one step closer towards maintaining sanity.

Ring Kites (see end for number) for information about holiday playschemes, which operate throughout the county.

Supervised by experienced playworkers, they cater for most interests and an increasing number offer places for children with special needs.

Activities range from arts and crafts and playground games to visits to local places of interest.

Check in advance with your regular childminder if she can accommodate extra hours. If you don't have a childminder, ring Kites for a
list of registered childminders near you.

If cost is an issue, investigate the childcare element of the Working Families Tax Credit, which can accommodate the extra costs of holiday childcare.

Ring Kites or, if you are a single parent, the New Deal advisers at the Employment Service.

Ask your family and friends for their support: children often enjoy a visit to grandparents or an auntie, who usually welcome the chance to see more of their
talented young relative and treat them like a prince or princess.

Find out from your child's school what is available.

Even if the school does not organise anything, teachers and other parents will know about local schemes and special events.

*Scour the local papers and notice boards and visit your public library for details of events.

Keep an eye open for special offers you can take up as a family. These could include rail discounts (a treat for a child who is used to travelling by car), family rates for
museums and off-peak rates for swimming pools and so on.

Drop into your town hall and flick through the many brochures outlining council run activities, which are generally reasonably-priced or free.

Visit the internet for details of what's on for families and children. is particularly good for London and surrounding areas.

Other sites offer ideas, as well as toys and resources for sale.

Apart from your usual box of storytapes, songtapes, toys and so on, buy a book of travel games, which can get
children actively involved in the journey and often help them to pick up new skills such as map-reading.