Enjoy the summer as much as your kids with our school holiday survival tips!
It’s that time of year when you can feel like an ATM, a taxi driver and an event planner rolled into one. Here’s how to ditch that mindset and enjoy the holidays as much as your kids.
Get everyone involved in planning
“Have a family meeting at the start, and brainstorm activities to enjoy as a family,” says Executive Director of raisingchildren.net.au, Associate Professor Julie Green. Get the kids to pick a paid activity each (cinema, mini golf, Big Bash Cricket) then a few fun free things each (skate park, planting a vegie patch). Write everything on a calendar so your kids know what’s happening and don’t hassle you.
Term time is full of homework, ballet and soccer lessons – everyone needs to recharge and slow down. Holidays are also for letting your kids watch too many cartoons in their pyjamas with Vegemite on their face. Keep weekends free for spontaneity and wipe a day out each week and call it snuggle day – just for cuddles and puppet shows and chilling.
Timing is everything
Do energetic stuff in the mornings (roller skating, bush walk, swimming, a big play at the park)... when everyone is more keen. Then in the afternoon the younger kids can nap, while the older kids can help you do a quick tidy up, play on their technology, watch a movie or read.
Look after yourself
It’s super important to also look after yourself during the holidays. “Parents need down- time too. A healthy parent is an effective one,” says Professor Green. Schedule in things that relax you – gym time, a facial, a night out while the kids sleep over at their grandparents.
Set limits on screen time
To avoid arguments about spending too much time playing video games, set limits on screen time. Make sure all the kids spend some time outdoors (bike rides, beach days, fishing with dad) and give older ones a fun home project to do. “Rearranging or redecorating their bedroom can be popular,” says Professor Green.
Let them get bored
If your kids tell you they’re bored (sigh) tell them it’s OK to feel that way sometimes. “Being bored can motivate children to find something creative or new to fill their time. You can also say “Great, I need some help with mopping the floor” and watch them miraculously disappear.
Find a balance
Many parents have to work during school holidays and can feel guilty. “School holidays are a juggle for lots of parents. Plan the time that you do have off, so that you and your family can make the most of being together. Otherwise, try to schedule in one-on-one time with your children each day. This could be reading a book, cooking together or going for a walk or bike ride in the early evening. This will help you to still feel connected,” says Professor Green.
Consider holiday camps
If you work during holiday time, you can put younger kids in vacation care, which mimics working hours and has lots of activities and craft to keep them busy. Consider summer camps for older kids, where they can go away for a few days or a couple of weeks at a time. Around Australia there are specialist camps (surf, adventure, tennis). They aren’t cheap, but many kids have the time of their lives there.
Call on your community
Utilise your community during the holidays. Invite your child’s friends for a sleepover, and their parents can do they same for your kids another time, so every parent gets a break.
Relax and have fun
Lastly, don’t feel pressured to give your kids a ‘perfect’ summer. “Children need the same things during a summer break that they need all year long – a loving relationship with their parents,” says Professor Green. Sit down and watch the occasional movie when they do, join them in building a cubby house in the living room with doonas and couch pillows. Have fun with them, that’s what the holidays are all about.
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