Monday, April 6, 2009

from the archives: school holidays

School holidays have just started in Victoria. In most other Australian states, they're starting on Friday. There'll be a few posts from the archives during the next two weeks, mixed in with some new posts.

I thought this might be a good time to reprise part of this post, which I wrote at the end of the summer break. We were all sick, so it wasn't a great holiday, and by the end I was desperate for change! I'm reminding myself - as much as you! - about what makes a good school holiday.

I've already made sure we're having more routine and less screen time, and the kids have lots of activities planned with friends. I'm exhausted, so I'm not sure the other activity ideas will happen - apart from some time with family at Easter! You might have some other ideas for school holidays. Anyhow, here's what I wrote:

Here's how I'd like to change things during our next school holidays:

  • less screen time. I realised near the end of the holidays that the kids were grumpy partly because they were having too much TV and computer time. During term time, I limit their screen time to 30 minutes a day. But during the school holidays, screen time gradually crept up, leaving grumpy bored children in its wake.
  • more planned activities. My children generally get along well, inventing games and playing happily together, so I'm happy to let them fill the hours enjoying each other's company. (Don't misunderstand me, there's plenty of times things don't run so smoothly in our house!) I don't normally need to come up with holiday amusements, so perhaps I've become a little lazy.
  • extend the kids' learning. I've bought books like Hands-On Science, full of experiments for my science-loving son, and Teaching Art With Books Kids Love, full of art activities for my craft-loving daughter, but we rarely have time for them. The school holidays would be a wonderful chance to do these together.
  • maintain daily routines. During holidays, it's easy to let the usual daily routines slip: Bible reading, piano lessons, breakfast together. It's good to take time away from normal routines to rest and relax, but a bit more structure in the day would help prevent the loose-endish holiday blues.
  • keep doing the good stuff. There are lots of things I want to keep doing, like day trips, time with grandparents, and spending individual time with each of my children.
I've just found some excellent suggestions for school holidays on the internet, so it might be time to do some browsing!

Any other ideas or suggestions?

image is from stock.xchng


Anna said...

Hi Jean,

A great book for 3yrs up to primary is Gospel Light's Big Book of God's Amazing Creation. It is packed with little activities to do arranged around days of creation, eg. light, sky and water, dry ground and plants etc. It is photocopiable too.

Another stand-by in our house is a block of wood, nails and hammer, and wool to weave around the nails when you're done. That one gets a lot of the niggles out.

Hope you all have a great holiday,

Meredith said...

At our place we are going to work towards being out in the morning and in during the afternoon to try to get the balance between fun and adventure with enough down time to rest. That seemed to work pretty well during the summer.

Oh, and I have learned my lesson through "painful" experience of not having friends over for the first few days until we have rediscovered our own family's equilibrium - adjusting back to everyone being at home and needing to share toys and parental time/attention all day long.

Happy holidays!

Jean said...

Thanks for some great suggestions, Anna! I love the activity which "gets the wriggles out".

Meredith, I really like what you say about morning / avo - great pattern. And also what you say about not having friends around until everyone has settled into holidays - another excellent point to remember. I probably do that unconsciously without even thinking about it, because it's such a relief to have everyone home, and we all need a quiet few days - but it's good to see it in black and white.

mattnbec said...

We find the morning=in, afternoon=out idea generally works well for us too. Occasionally we do things the opposite way, but generally, mornings are when we try to do things out so that people are fresher and less grumpy (both the kids and me!).

Holidays have already started here and we're doing a bit more cooking together than usual, especially related to Easter or spending time with friends. We just bought my almost 2yo son an apron so he can join in a bit more. We're also getting ready for my 4yo daughter to go to a morning-only pre-school programme at the local school (eg buying a new drink bottle and uniform items, filling in an 'about me' sort of book etc). Because the weather here in the UK is getting warmer and more outdoorsy, we're also really enjoying spending a bit more time outside.


Jean said...

Thanks, Bec.

Something I've realised again this school holidays: don't schedule something every day!

Some kids need to get out every day, but with 4 kids happy to play noisily and energetically in our house and garden (mostly going down the driveway on bikes!) we don't need to get out so much.

We've got people who like their space and quiet time at our place - above all, mum! - so it's good for us to have some family days at home. Otherwise we get overtired and grumpy, and any extra home tasks don't get done.

And I HAVE been enjoying having time just to sit around with the kids and play games, build lego, do craft, play chasey, and all those fun activities I'd forgotten about in my busy life! It's reminded me that I'll have to keep making time for them.