Jessica Rowe and kids

Jessica Rowe, pictured with her girls, remembers "hot, endless days at the beach, mangoes, fruit cake, banana Paddle Pops..."

Anyone who has navigated a dark patch of the highway with one hand on the wheel and the other trying to settle screaming twins in baby capsules, while a nine-year-old's vomiting, will understand the pain of school holidays and the apprehension they bring.

If you already have a knot in your stomach about how you are going to handle the next six weeks of school holiday hell between juggling work commitments, rainy days, the inevitable lurgies, trips to sit on Santa Claus's lap and screaming kids grappling sand-laden sandwiches, don't fret: celebrities face the same challenges.

Here are some tips from our favourite stars on just how they cope with the season to be jolly. Enjoy.

Dr Katrina Warren

Dr Katrina Warren, pictured with her daughter, says planning is crucial during the holidays. "I need to have activities and play dates organised in advance or I go crazy."

(PS: I love Merrick Watts's ''exhaust them till they drop'' scheme, Katrina Warren's whiteboard idea and Jessica Rowe's beach with direct access to a caffeine injection. Brilliant.)

MERRICK WATTS

Radio announcer, Triple M's Merrick & the Highway Patrol

Merrick Watts 353

For Merrick Watts, childhood holidays were about "family, grandparents, swimming and heat".

Kids: Wolfe, 3, Kinga Rose, 11 months

My favourite holiday as a kid

I loved going to Broken Hill, where my mum is from - it's in the middle of nowhere. I loved to go there as a kid because at any time of the year it was always hot. I remember the local pool - my brother, myself and cousins used to go swimming every day in the heat. It was the greatest place on earth as a kid. It was very simple. The thing I've realised is the simple things are the easiest and the best.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Family, grandparents, swimming and heat. Also great memories of riding motorbikes with cousins. My uncle was an engineer and my cousin is a mechanic, and they were both very handy and we'd build go-karts and race the go-karts and motorbikes around.

Where I love to take my family now

[Wife] Georgie and I go to Adelaide in summer. We got married there and all of my mum's family moved to Adelaide, and I'm very close with my cousins. The beaches and everything are really, really nice, it's very casual and down-to-earth and a nice little break from showbiz. I spent so much time in a small town as a kid I've always liked that outback feeling.

Favourite car-travel game

When we used to drive to Broken Hill from Melbourne [where I grew up], dad would only stop long enough for fuel, a wee and hot chips in the whole nine hours so my favourite game was to sit behind my father and delicately single out one hair from the back of his head and pluck it and see if I could get away with it. I felt like a legend if I did, but it was risky and dangerous. My own kids are far better behaved. Wolfe is really good and entertains himself with a car or a motorbike or plane in his hand. My favourite game now is ''Shhhhh … dad is driving!''

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

I like to go to the Sydney Aquatic Centre at Homebush, which has lots of slides and activities and stuff like that, so they still get to play even though it's raining.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

We take them down to Darling Harbour, either the Sydney Aquarium or Wildlife Park there, and then get Chinese food in Chinatown afterwards. There's a little train Wolfe loves.

Most valuable parenting advice I've heard

My mum had two pieces of advice: one, cherish every second you have with the kids as they grow up so fast, and, two, don't end up like your father!

How I stay sane during the holidays

The way to keep sane when I have downtime with the kids is to not try and get the kids to fit into my schedule but just try and do whatever the kids want to do on the day. If they're happy, you'll be happy. If they're unhappy, you'll be unhappy.

My school holiday secret

I used to take my grandfather to Big W as a decoy so I could steal chocolates. Oh, you didn't mean that type of secret!

Tips to survive the holidays

Do something that makes them tired, something physical. Burn them out in the mornings, then in the afternoon and evenings you have quiet kids.

JESSICA ROWE

Author and journalist

Kids: Allegra, 5, and Giselle, 3

My favourite holiday as a kid

On the NSW south coast in a ramshackle beach house.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Hot, endless days at the beach, mangoes, fruit cake, banana Paddle Pops, lolling around on the verandah once the heat was too much, and reading … and daydreaming about the year ahead.

Where I love to take my family now

Anywhere with a beach, rock pool and close enough to the sand that you don't need to drive anywhere once you arrive. We just had a very special family holiday in Fiji - it was blissful! We ALL relaxed!

Favourite car travel game

When I was little, I Spy. Now, a portable DVD with plenty of Disney princesses and Barbie DVDs on hand.

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

I love the Australian Museum in the city. It has a fab area for smaller children, who can dress up, draw, read and play. And there's also the exhibits for bigger kids who can get involved. The volunteers are also terrific - explaining different types of animals and their habitats. Just avoid the shop, if you want to avoid tantrums, as they want everything in sight!

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

If it's sunny, Parsley Bay. There is a great shaded playground area, plenty of grass for picnics, sand that's good for building castles and tunnels, plus shallow water good for splashing. Oh, and a coffee house that provides a much-needed caffeine fix.

Most valuable parenting advice I've heard

Lower your expectations - take the pressure off! We're all doing the best we can, and there are days when it goes pear-shaped.

How I stay sane during the holidays

Sometimes I don't! But caffeine, sunshine and sugar help.

My school holiday secret

Can you tell me? But I do love slowing down, and I make a real effort to do that with my girls over the holidays. There is no need to rush around.

Tips to survive the holidays

Don't feel you have to tear around doing the latest and greatest stuff. Have a picnic, stay up late, try to stay in bed longer, eat fish and chips for dinner, have cake for breakfast, do a movie afternoon with popcorn. Revel in the joy of those simple pleasures with the most precious people in your lives.

CAMERON DADDO

Actor and radio announcer, Smoothfm

Kids: Lotus, 16, River, 12, and Bodhi, 6

My favourite holiday as a kid

September holidays in Yamba [on the NSW north coast]. Three weeks of nothing but surfing, fishing and playing pinball machines. It was blissful.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

The car trips to the destination. Seven Daddos packed in a sedan: Mum, dad in front, with Lachie in the middle (he sat on a piece of foam rubber - the car had bucket seats), Andrew, Jamie, Belinda and I in the back … one sat forward, the other three sat back. We listened to Neil Diamond, The Brady Bunch albums and whatever game was being played on the good ol' ABC.

Where I love to take my family now

Anywhere there's surf, fishing and pinball machines. Hawaii is always great.

Favourite car travel game

I Spy.

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

Surfing.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

Palm Beach and any other beach ''north of the bends'' … hiking trails, beach and great eateries.

Most valuable parenting advice I've heard

Always say what you want, rather than what you don't want - the word doesn't compute in our brains. Try this: find something you don't want your child, your best friend or mother to look at, then tell them not to look at it. I guarantee you, they will look at it within a minute.

How I stay sane during the holidays

Build things. Last holidays, we created a rope course in this big tree in the backyard. I had a harness and pulley system; I could pull the kids up into tree. When one of them misbehaved, I put her in the harness, pulled up, and left her hanging for a while. The others got the idea.

My school holiday secret

If you have a partner, it's good to divide the time with the kids into quarters: my time, her time, our time, their time …

Tips to survive the holidays

When the kids say ''I'm bored'', we say ''Great, go do something!''

DR KATRINA WARREN

Media vet

Daughter: Charlotte, 5

My favourite holiday as a kid

I loved going to the Gold Coast, as there was lots of swimming, plenty of fun activities and great ice-cream.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Doing puzzles in the back of the car - there were no iPads or portable DVD players then. The Rubik's Cube kept me entertained for hours.

Where I love to take my family now

South coast, NSW. The most amazing beaches and many of the areas are dog friendly, which means that my golden retriever, Riley, doesn't miss out.

Favourite car travel game

I can't go past I Spy - it will survive every generation.

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

Going to the Entertainment Quarter for movies, bowling and plaster painting.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

Nielsen Park - it has a great

beach for young kids, a cafe and plenty of space for them to run around, but you must get there early on weekends for parking.

Most valuable parenting advice I've heard

Not to listen to parenting advice!

How I stay sane during the holidays

I avoid shopping centres. Car park gridlock is not enjoyable! And caffeine.

My school holiday secret

I don't have any yet, as my daughter starts school next year. Suggestions are welcome.

Tips to survive the holidays

Plan ahead. I need to have activities and play dates organised in advance or I go crazy. I have a whiteboard with activities listed and my daughter enjoys ticking them off.

MARK BERETTA

Sports presenter, Sunrise

Kids: Ava, 8, and Dan, 5

My favourite holiday as a kid

My favourite holiday as a kid was Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Every September, we'd load the family car and drive overnight from Geelong in Victoria all the way to Queensland to spend two weeks in the sun at the beach. We had a bunch of friends we would meet up there every year and we'd swim, play beach cricket and hang out at the beach all day.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

For me, holidays were all about swimming in the surf, digging in the sand and ice-cream in the afternoon.

Where I love to take my family now

These days I love taking my wife, Rach, and Ava and Dan to Torquay in Victoria. It's got that beautiful seaside town atmosphere and the kids hit the waves on their boogie boards all day.

Favourite car travel game

On long road trips, the Beretta family loves a game of I Spy. It keeps the kids (and me) entertained for hours!

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

On a rainy day, nothing beats the Sydney Aquarium. We always look forward to going there and seeing all the amazing sea life. Sharks, dugongs, giant rays and a great interactive area - it's got it all.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

My favourite spot in Sydney to take the kids is Freshwater Beach. It's a great beach for the whole family, and the kids can spend all day in the surf!

Most valuable parenting advice I've heard

The most valuable parenting advice I've heard is to let kids be kids. They grow up fast enough, so let them do things at their own pace and when they're ready.

How I stay sane during the holidays

I stay sane during the holidays by just rolling with it. You need to remember you're on holidays and you can't stress about the little things. Take your time, there's no rush, and just enjoy your precious family time.

My school holiday secret

Plan special outings and events. We all like having something to look forward to, so the kids like knowing that they're going to the zoo on Wednesday, or the aquarium on Thursday.

Tips to survive the holidays

Switch off from work and focus on the family. Sometimes it's hard to do, but it makes for a much better holiday!

CHRIS BATH

Seven News presenter, Sunday Night host

Son: Darcy, 12

My favourite holiday as a kid

Two weeks every summer at Blue Bay on the NSW central coast. We'd walk along the beach to the Dragon Inn at The Entrance for Chinese, then enjoy the laughing clowns and the go-karts at the holiday carnival in town. We'd surf until we had rashes from our polystyrene boards, clamber over the rocks looking for shells and lie on the beach reading all the books that Santa brought us for Christmas.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Summer at Blue Bay and camping all over NSW, including the Belanglo State Forest, with mum and dad and their friends in the 1980s. Our families had a special improvised ''flagpole'' that they'd erect at every campsite with a special camp flag that my mum made.

Where I love to take my family now

We go back to Blue Bay with friends for summer holidays - it's a wonderful place for families. But now, thanks to my son's obsession with our feathered friends in the sky, we now spend every day off, anywhere, birdwatching! It has taken us to some amazing places.

Favourite car travel game

Working our way through the alphabet, naming things we see for each letter. It can go for hours, so it's great for long trips!

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

Curling up and reading a good book on the couch. Birdwatching off the cliff at Maroubra - the more windy and rainy, the more albatross you see! But if you want to get out of the elements, you can't go past the Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of NSW. Wonder awaits on every floor.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

Tramping through our wonderful national parks.

Most valuable parenting advice I've heard

Put ping-pong balls in the loo for little boys to aim at when toilet training. Saved my bathroom a thousand times over!

How I stay sane during the holidays

I don't. Give in to the insanity and enjoy it.