As the NSW school holidays are upon us, I feel it’s important that we band together for support. Here is an essential school holiday survival checklist:
- Lazy mornings
School mornings are often rushed and frustrating. We have a list on the wall of all the kids tasks and still they wander around like lost farm animals with amnesia. I’ll ask them to put their shoes on and they will give me a confused look that says “What are these ‘shoe’ things you speak of?” Or I’ll get “What did you ask me to do again?” 15 minutes after I’ve asked it. Enjoy relief from the dreaded school drop off deadline. Even if the kids get up at 6am, you don’t have to. They can watch TV until at least 8.30. Once you’re up, relish relaxing. Make everyone pancakes or bacon & eggs and a coffee for yourself that you have time to finish. Pretend you’re at Bonnie Doone and enjoy the serenity as no rushed school drop in your dressing gown is required.
- Off to the Movies
At least one trip to the movies is standard each school holidays. My tip is to make those little suckers work for it. Eg. “If you clean your rooms this morning and tidy the playroom, we will go to the movies this afternoon.” Or if you can’t get out of the movie trip here is a good one “We’re still going but if you’re not good this morning then NO movie treats”. This provokes looks of horror so profound it’s amusing. To make a child sit through a cinema movie without treats is tantamount to torture. Don’t let this threat go unutilised.
- The Family Sleepover
Ship them off to Grandma & Grandpa’s for a couple of nights. I’ve not been able to tap into this delight yet. Firstly, my parents live in Brisbane which makes it more difficult and expensive. My mother-in-law is a shift worker who lives in Sydney, so it’s do-able but not always convenient. Secondly, Miss 3 is my Achilles’s heel in such circumstances. She has rejected any notion of sleeping over anywhere I am not. My mother-in-law has had the older two but has never had all three due to this separation anxiety. These holidays I am hopeful that Nana can tame the beast. Miss 3 has let me know her feelings on the matter in no uncertain terms but I’ve just said ‘you’re going’, hoping for the best. I assume most of you don’t have my obstacles so get your diary and phone out now and schedule that sleepover.
- iPad Intelligence
Select a period of time each day, my suggestion is after lunch, for indulgent, no-holds-barred iPad time for your children. You can put your feet up and watch your own show for a couple of hours. My dream for you is that you can get through a whole season of a TV series these holidays – shoot for the stars!
- Planned Punishments
It’s wise to plan ahead with punishments so you don’t screw yourself over. Things like iPad bans are a no-no. iPads are a crucial ingredient to getting through the day. Banning play dates is a bad idea too, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. My go-to punishments these days are jobs or a fine from their pocket money jar. The pros of this approach:
- They are working for you, cleaning the house, saving you time and effort.
- They use up their own time and energy doing these jobs
- Your home is now cleaner than it was
- You’ve got through another day
If you’ve given them a fine, you pocket their cash and they can earn it back, cue jobs again. My kids do things like: weeding, taking bins out, folding washing, putting washing away, clearing tables, unstacking dishwasher, vacuuming (this is also a workout) and my favorite – having a tea party with their little sister. If you feel your children aren’t up to these tasks, who cares. Let them do their best and even if it’s rubbish and you have to re-do it, it’s still taken up their time and energy and provided an activity. Dream big for your kids, they are more competent with housework than you think. My mantra to Miss 9 is: If you can move furniture to climb up and steal lollies from the top of the pantry, you can certainly figure out a way to hang up your dresses in the top wardrobe.
- Protect Pets
It’s important to realise that school holidays can be just as difficult for your pets. My bored children will use Cedric our dog as a craft activity, ride him like a pony or dress him up like Marilyn Monroe as you can see by this picture, which was taken in the previous school holidays. And now we have our new kitten Daphne to think about too. Please don’t forget to monitor the emotional health of pets as the school holidays progress.
- Enjoyable Evenings
There’s no pressure to get kids into bed by a certain time. I hate routine so this suits me well and there is a trickle down effect. I don’t have to worry what time dinner is ready or baths are done. I can pretend we’re hippies in a commune and do things when we feel like it. I’m not planning on growing my underarm hair or switching to soy milk, but I do enjoy ignoring the clock. We enjoy snuggling up on the couch and watching a few episodes of ‘Full House’ or something cheesy like that together after dinner. Enjoy your evenings. A glass of chardonnay won’t go astray either. When you drink it, please pronounce it ‘cardonnay’ though, for me.
I think I’ve said enough. Friends, my dearest wish for you all is that you don’t end up screaming into a pillow these school holidays. If you avoid that, consider your holidays a raging success.