It’s that time of year again.
The school holidays are lurking around the corner. This means my Facebook feed will soon become a constant stream of mothers begging for someone to send in the troops to save them from their bored and bickering offspring as they bring on the Christmas holiday crazy.
Personally, I always start the holidays with a sense of excitement. I look forward to the lazy mornings, the luxury of time to spend with the kids and the big break from coming up with school lunchbox ideas and playing taxi. I have blissful visions of lazy beach holidays, exploring the great outdoors and bonding over shared experiences without the restriction of school hours.
These blissful visions usually wear off by the end of day one after the kids have spent it glued to a screen, I’ve fetched their seventeenth snack and washed the third sink full of dishes.
By day two, the kids inevitably take up bickering and winding each other up as a hobby and the first “I‘m bored” comes flying out of their mouths. It is at this point I become aware that unlike my pre-holiday fantasies, life is not a breakfast cereal commercial, and I’m likely to require a kidney transplant by the end of the holidays as marinating the one I have in wine once they’re in bed is the only thing that’s keeping me from going completely bat shit crazy.
So if you’ve been nodding along, avoid the need for months of intensive post-school-holiday therapy with these foolprooof parenting hacks for a stress-free festive season…
What kid doesn’t love trashing their parents’ living room with a blanket fort? To encourage their creativity these holidays, make them a ‘fort kit’. This is essentially a pillowcase stuffed with two flat white sheets, a bunch of pegs, and a set of battery-operated fairy lights. It’s a great way to give the kids something to do and somewhere to argue out of sight, and if all else fails it will be somewhere you can hide with a G&T while you rock back and forth whimpering.
Send for reinforcements
Pre-plan play dates this year because six kids is easier than two. As soon as kids have other kids to play with, they tend to cease with the volley of “I’m bored”. This strategy works even better if their friend’s mother and father hang around because while they keep each other entertained running around, you can kick back with some holiday cocktails and compare school holiday war stories.
Teach the kids a lesson in money management by assigning age-appropriate holiday chores in exchange for holiday spending money. Whether it’s taking out the garbage, tidying their room, helping with dinner, or even folding the laundry, whatever they do around the house each week sets the budget for the following week’s external activities. Not only will you teach the kids to take responsibility for their own fun, you’ll have a clean house so you can kick back and catch up on all those classic Christmas movies you’ve been dying to have the uninterrupted time to watch after they go to bed.
Plan theme days with activities and costumes based around your children’s interests. If they love camping, set up a tent in the backyard, have a BBQ dinner and s’mores and sleep in it overnight. If they love being creative, host a Masterchef day so they can get creative in the kitchen, or a magic day where they can learn tricks and put on a show. If you get really desperate for a little quiet time, dress them up as ninjas and then they’ll have to be stealthily silent…it is a prerequisite.
Exploit screen time
Most kids would happily sloth in front of a television for hours with the only sign of life the regular request to fetch them snacks. While it’s ideal to set rules around screen time and use a timer to avoid arguments, getting them to earn their screen time by building their own DIY movie cinema is the perfect excuse for a bit of calm TV time, and a fun family movie night. Their fort building kit will double as a DIY movie making kit. They can peg up the white sheets to use as a screen, collect picnic blankets and scatter a few cushions while you set up a projector. You can even make it an occasion by inviting friends and family and asking everyone to bring snacks and drinks to share.
Images via imgur.com, nydailynews.com, giphy.com, tumblr.com and personalcreations.com.
Comment: What do you do to keep your kids occupied during the school holidays?