Planning for summer holiday fun with kids
With summer fast approaching, so too is the long school holiday break for the kids. A little bit of planning can go a long way to make the summer holiday a fun time for you and the kids even if you aren’t heading away.
Firstly if you will be working over the summer, now is the time to start investigating school holiday programs or other childcare options. If you live in a major city, the range of school holiday programs is quite extensive now, spanning from traditional programs run out of school and local community centres to programs on specific areas of interest like coding, entrepreneurship, chess, soccer, dancing, cricket and art. Find one within your price range and an area of interest for your kids. Once you know how much time you will have at home with the kids, it is time to plan what you will do with your time. Here are some tips on how you can use planning to make the most of school holidays.
1. Plan in white space
The term “white space” is hugely popular at the moment and you will hear adults speaking of having “white space” in their calendar. This means they have time across their days and weeks that isn’t scheduled. It can be tempting to think that we need to keep the kids entertained every minute of the school holidays or else the fighting and poor behavior might start. But like adults, kids need a break from routine and a break from being fully scheduled so they have time to potter, time to think and choose what they want to do and it is also good for kids to have time to be bored: “Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.” Amongst trips away and planned activities, plan in days where the kids are at home and it is their responsibility to entertain themselves.
2. Plan to take advantage of free and low cost activities
With the above point said, as a mum to five kids, I know that if we were to stay home every day of school holidays, cabin fever would surely set in! Planning days at home across the week with a mix of days where you are out and about works well to keep family harmony in tact. Thankfully there are many free and low cost activities you can do with the kids like:
- Visit the library – many often have free school holiday programs
- Visit the local pool – check their website for times and whether they have activity afternoons which are included in the price of entry to the pool.
- Pack a picnic lunch and take a train/bus/tram ride to somewhere new for lunch
- School holiday programs at neighbourhood houses and community centres
- Go on an adventure walk in nature at a national park close to you
- Find a new bike path and go for a bike ride
- Go berry / fruit picking – find a local orchard that lets you pick your own
- Visit a local museum or gallery
3. Plan to do things differently
During school terms most families run to a fairly predictable routine. School holidays can be the perfect time to loosen up the routine and add some fun and spontaneity to the days. Here are some ways you can take the everyday activities of family life and make them more fun by doing them slightly differently:
- Sleep in the backyard in a tent.
- Make a breakfast feast with the kids’ favourites and eat it outside.
- Have a pajama and reading day – plan this after a visit to the library and everyone parents included, stay in the pj’s and spend the day ignoring household tasks and reading books instead.
- Have movie marathon night – bring the mattresses into the lounge room and let the kids watch a marathon of movies and sleep in the lounge room.
- Turn the kitchen into a café for dinner - have the kids help choose the food, write up menus, prepare the food, set the table, take orders and serve the food.
- Sit outside after dinner once it is dark, look at the stars, share a favourite dessert and childhood stories.
4. Plan to get creative
With the kids having more unscheduled time at home, it is a great opportunity to encourage their creativity. Before the school holidays start, stock up on your arts and craft supplies and also your pantry staples so the kids will have plenty of materials to work with. You can also start a collection of materials that would have ended up in the recycling bin like milk containers, boxes, cylinders, yogurt tubs etc. Wash them up and store them in a large box as they will provide excellent materials for kids to make constructions from. Allow them to set up a creation station that can stay set up for a few days as they work on projects and tinker with them across the week.
Some popular creative activities with our kids are:
- Making new flavor fruit juice ice blocks
- Using the hot glue gun, nails and string to make recycled creations
- Painting canvases
- Paper Mache
- Baking cookies and muffins
- Writing stories
- Making movies
- Masterchef mystery box challenges
- LEGO building days
- Big chalk drawing and water painting
5. Plan to say yes
This tip is about planning to change our mindset as parents rather than any physical preparation we can do. Kids often want to try things out, have friends over, make a mess, go new places. As parents so we can keep all the balls in the air, we often say no as an automatic response. In the school holidays it can be the perfect opportunity for us to practice saying yes a little more often, give the kids a little more freedom and fun.