Whether you’re going away or simply enjoying lazy days at home, the school holidays can throw routine right out of the window. This can have good and bad points. Here’s a guide to coping with the school holidays regardless of whether it is the 2 week break or the 6 week whopper!
Help your child become more self-reliant.
The absence of the school routine means you have an opportunity to not be a slave to the clock and take the time to really train your children into good habits. This is a fantastic time to really encourage them with all sorts of skills, from getting dressed themselves, preparing their own lunch or making their bed without rushing.
Schedule in some lazy days around structured days. Talk through with the kids your plans for any day-trips and consider extra activities, toys, food, warm layers that you may need. Planning is essential if you are to avoid the trap of allowing kids to spend way too much time in front of a screen with damaging consequences for moods and energy levels. Check out our events calendar for a daily list of family friendly activities.
But do less.
Minimise stress so you can focus on enjoying being with your children and getting them into good habits. Beware of over stimulating the children. Plan for some time for yourself so that you can replenish the resource that you are for your family. When kids have unstructured time they become creative.
Watch your diet.
Over the holidays everyone becomes a little more relaxed with their eating habits. Children especially may overdose on sugar and may not be getting the exercise they normally do during the week. Encourage healthy eating and activities, with a family walk, a bike ride or a family swim. Even a quick dash around the block will help!
But help – I’m really bored mum!!!
Sit the kids down and ask them to draw up a list of activities they’d like to do over the holidays. Take your time with this as ideas may come to you when you least expect it. From visiting that nearby art-gallery, library (or the State Library) to seeing old friends, clearing out the loft to filling that photo album you’ve always wanted to. Then on desperate days you can resort to your list. Older kids can look check out our tweens and teens article here.
The holidays can bring on additional stresses particularly if you are looking after other family members, pets or juggling work. Acknowledge that not every day will be easy and consider outsourcing jobs throughout the holiday. Perhaps you can off load your ironing, dog walking or use a children’s holiday club.
Use different rules
Your routine may change but you can think through new rules and routines for the holidays. Make them clear and positive with non-material rewards (such as an extra story, bubble bath, time for a board game). Continue to descriptively praise your children throughout the holidays to encourage a positive cycle of good behaviour. eg. “I see you’ve laid the table for breakfast, Molly, that’s really helpful.”Regulate how much screen time kids get. The summer holidays is usually (weather willing) a terrific opportunity to be outside.
Have time alone
Have time alone with each child as often as possible even if it’s not very much time. A few minutes at bedtime works for many families.
When things go wrong
When children behave inappropriately try not to blame, criticise, shout or nag. Instead try to think about the reason for the misbehaviour. Was there an emotion driving it or was the child looking for attention? Were they tired, over-stimulated or over-sugared? Acknowledge the feelings and, when things have calmed down, ask the child to think of an appropriate way of making amends. If your child is looking for attention make sure you’re giving lots of it for the positive things they are doing.