Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Tips: Surviving School Holidays... Without grey hairs

It’s ironic how we as mums countdown the school term week by week until we finally get to the beloved school holidays, only to be overwhelmed with chaos and wingeing children.

Having the children full time, eating you out of house and home, planning activities, organizing play dates, sorting childcare and the absolute shemozzle that a break in routine brings can send anyone loopy.

I don’t know about you but I find myself not knowing which way is up and what day is what during the holidays. This morning I sent my son to speech therapy a day early and almost forgot all about my daughters swimming lessons. By 9:30am I was exhausted and still had 2 play dates and a house to clean a head of me.

Why do we do it to ourselves? We build up the excitement to finally have school holidays and then watch it explode in our faces. And this of course almost always leads to very cranky mums and a sudden increase in wine consumption. Am I wrong?

I shouldn’t have to be this way. I would really like to enjoy the positive side of holidays – sleep in’s, Pajama days, time with my kids, going on road trips and being the fun mum for a change.

I think with a little help from our organisational hats we can plan a fun and restful holiday for all of the family.

Take these tips and see if you can use a couple to ensure you too avoid excess grey hairs this holidays.

1. Print off a calendar for the holiday period

2. Fill in all the pre set appointments and work commitments first.

3. Ask your children 2-3 things they would really like to do in the holidays – add these to the calendar

4. Try to have every second day as a ‘home’ or ‘down’ day – This will ensure that your kids do actually get some rest. Plan DVD sessions, cooking, reading time and ‘quiet’ games on these days.

5. Try to keep some part of your routine occurring where possible (especially for little ones) – Meal times, bath and bed routine are good routines to keep if you can. This will ensure your children are settled and prepared for bed in the usual way for a good nights sleep.

6. Take away meals and treats – Add a couple of special dinners and/or treats to the calendar such as a McDonalds night or an ice cream in your PJs drive. This will give your children something to look forward to and also give you more power to keep other meals more nutritious.

7. Food – Do a big grocery shop before the holidays alone!!
  • Stock up on healthy food that you can cut up and store ready for the endless snacking that children seem to do in holidays. – Salad vegie sticks, popcorn and cheese and crackers are great in summer.
  • Buy flour, eggs and extra milk for baking snacks such as cookies, banana bread, pikelets and muffins. Get the kids to help you bake and this can be a fun activity too.
  • Plan your holiday dinner menu with things that the whole family can make together such as Pizza and tacos. This will take the pressure of you as the master chef and also give quality time with the family. Just make sure everyone is on clean up duty as well. Add this to the calendar to avoid the ‘what’s for dinner’ chant.

8. Play Dates – Plan for your children to have a friend or two over and add it to the calendar. Just make sure it’s a reciprocal arrangement so you don’t become a half way house for the whole class. This provides an activity for your children and then can give you some alone time to put your feet up.

9. Cleaning – Let’s face it. During this time your house will be messy, the kids rooms with look shocking and the laundry will pile up. This is a fact. Don’t worry. The sun will rise tomorrow and life will go on. One tip I would recommend though is – At the beginning of each day. Decide on one or two chore such as a load of washing and vacuuming. Tell the children that there will be no activities or leaving the house until those chores are complete. Be very strong with this. They will very quickly realise that by helping you; they will get what they want sooner. I think by the third day of this routine you will have them asking what their job is for today.

10. Play – Take time out to play with your children. Put this in the calendar as activities YOU want to do with the kids. Not shopping for school shoes or hair cuts – these are chores. I am talking about taking a ferry ride, doing some craft or seeing a movie together. Something fun that you will enjoy together. This will make you feel like you are having a holiday too.

As you can see, I have mentioned the calendar in almost all of these tips. I know it sounds like ‘just another schedule’ telling you to go here and do that. But I promise it’s not like that at all. As you start to fill it out you will realise that it is your family schedule of fun. It’s really important to include the children when planning this so everyone can build on the excitement of what is coming. It will ultimately take the most pressure off you as mum. We are human and we get tired and our children know this. They wear us down until we give in to silly things and thus the chaos begins. You can use your calendar as another authority. Quite simply - If it’s not on the calendar is not on. If your kids ask ‘what’s for dinner’, you reply ‘what does the calendar say?’ If they say they’re bored or they don’t get to do anything, get them to look at what’s coming up so they can focus on that. I am telling you it works!!

These tips are more like ideas or suggestions for you to think about. They are designed to help you look forward to and actually enjoy the school holidays for what they are meant to be.

And lastly we must remember that the purpose of school holidays is to give our children a rest. Some down time to stop and recharge their little batteries.  Do not let them run out of control so they return to school in worse shape. Our children are just that – children. They don’t know when to slow down or what their limits are. That is part of our job as parents.

How do you avoid the craziness of school holidays in your family? 
Do you call in reinforcements or send the kids to Grandma’s?
How do you manage holidays when you’re working?
What is the most favourite thing your family likes to do during holidays?

I would absolutely love to know.

Have a fabulous day and a fantastic week.