With the winter school holidays in full swing, many parents might be feeling overwhelmed or anxious at the prospect of their kids being home for three long weeks! You may be wondering how to keep your child entertained, whilst simultaneously juggling normal life. Pure beginnings and I have partnered to share some ideas with you.
Step 1: Strategise / collaborate
One of the best ways to manage the holidays is to involve your children. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know exactly how your child would like to spend his time, or what his goals might be. Your first step is to sit with your child and collaborate. Spend some time brainstorming a few entertainment ideas and put a plan in place. When children are involved in developing or planning something, it is far more likely that they will stick to this plan and show cooperation. If you present a holiday to-do list generated purely by yourself, don’t be surprised if you meet with resistance and push-back from your kids.
Step 2: Create your lists
The plan is to develop two different lists for the holidays. The first, is an everyday list – something that your child works towards each day. Remember to make these achievable, doable goals that encourage your child to feel successful. I would encourage a list that has the following items on it:
- Point of connection
- Screen time
- Creative play
- Outdoor / body play
You might be reading this and thinking, “Why are we encouraging screen time? And why is boredom on the list?” Well, here’s the thing – this list is meant to act as a support for you, and not as a stressor. When we set standards that are unrealistic or unachievable, like ‘no screens for the holidays’ we feel riddled with guilt when things do not go according to plan. Instead of setting ourselves (and our kids) up for failure, let’s find ways for our kids to engage in all types of activities, but moderate those that we feel are not as desirable as others. If we don’t make a big deal out of screentime, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Also, if we can ensure that screentime translates into actionable play then it is serving a purpose. For example, if your kids watch an episode of Paw Patrol, then encourage them during their play to construct a scenario with Ryder and the pups, where the pups need to save the day. This translates what they have watched into something concrete that sparks imaginative play, and models managing of social dilemmas.
Secondly – we need to move away from the notion that boredom is a bad thing. Boredom is a wonderful thing. When our kids are bored, they open the window for creativity. The most amazing games, ideas and role plays are born out of boredom. Don’t be scared to keep your child ‘free’ and allow boredom – we do not need to fill their schedules and keep them busy every minute of every day. The list you compile with your child should comprise of small tasks that can be completed throughout the day and should not be seen as a competition or race to achieve all of them in record time. Each day should be filled with various small goals – some of which might only take 5 or 10 minutes to achieve. We want every day to have a good balance and ensure that it’s filled with a point of connection with us (even if that’s a quick hot chocolate together, or a quick game of uno).
The second list is a more long-term one. Sit with your child and develop a list of something that might take more than a day to achieve. See this as a learning opportunity. Is there perhaps a new skill that your child wants to learn during the holiday? Having a goal like this is wonderful for kids because it encourages perseverance and teaches them about delayed gratification. It’s important for children to see the long-term goal and be able to tolerate the time (and effort) it will take to achieve whatever it is that they have set out to achieve.
This long-term list could also include one or two ‘big events’ that are not set to happen on predetermined dates. These events might look like ‘going to the movies’ or ‘going to a play park’ etc. These bigger goals keep the holiday exciting and provide something for our kids to look forward to, but at the same time ensures that we are not bound by times or dates – you have the flexibility to implement these events when it suits you! (remember this plan is to support you over the next few weeks, not create greater anxiety!) With this in mind your second list might look like this:
- Learn to play a specific song on the piano
- Learn to play chess
- Go to a movie
- Have a big sleepover in mom and dad’s room
- Go to the beach
Step 3: Implement
Once you have created your lists, stick them up somewhere where they are easily accessible for everyone to see. That way, it is a constant reminder and encouragement for your child to engage with the list.
Don’t forget to have fun!
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