Tune in to what your family needs each day. It’s easy to feel pressured into going to all the places and doing all the things to make sure everyone has fun on the school holidays. Take some time to really think about what you and each child needs during these holidays. Maybe your family is exhausted from the school term and running around to extracurricular activities. Maybe your budget is restricted right now. Sit down as a family to discuss your needs but trust yourself as the final decision maker about what you will or won’t be doing these school holidays.
Don’t throw away all your routines. Especially useful for parents of children with special needs. School days are predictable and most families have routines and habits in place that are structured around the school day (homework time, dinner time, bath time, bed time, wake up time etc). On holidays these routines may relax into non-existence, which works well for some kids and families. Other children may still need some of those routines in place to feel regulated and for things to run smoothly at home. PJs all day might work one day and it might not the next. Again, tune in and change course when you notice things aren’t working. Balance is key to harmony.
Give your kids a break from their school friends. It’s two weeks apart after five days a week for 11 weeks together. Time apart is good for them. Any child who can’t survive two weeks without their peers is probably too peer-oriented and could benefit from being re-oriented towards family and adult care-givers (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents). Sure, it’s fun to get together out of school but the holidays are a great time for families to reconnect and strengthen bonds, declutter and organise spaces in the home, slow down, reset.
Take extra care of yourself. Holidays can be stressful. Maybe you’re a working parent who needs to organise time off or child care and you’re feeling guilty about it. Maybe you’re a single parent who’ll be without your kids for some time. Maybe you’re a bonus parent who’ll have extra kids in your care. Maybe you have kids with special needs or behavioural issues and sending them to school is your sanity. Maybe your partner works long hours and you have no support network. Try to find ten minutes a day to be still, watch your breath, move your body, pray, meditate, journal, dance. If it means they are on a screen for ten minutes extra, who cares. Speak positively to yourself about the job you’re doing and reach out to someone if you’re really struggling.
Embrace the chaos. I know the eating, dishwashing, noise, mess, teasing and bickering can feel relentless during the school holidays. The truth is parenting wasn’t meant to be fun, easy or glamorous. Try to remember that this time is fleeting. Children are a blessing. Raising children is a service and a privilege. They are more attuned than we think. If we treat them like a burden they will believe they are. Let’s keep that in mind. Because when they grow up, they’ll remember less how clean and tidy your home was and more about how it felt to be there with you.