What no-one tells you about school holidays before you’re a parent
The single most important thing to remember as school holidays approach is that everyone is going to begin them exhausted. Ideally there should be a day or two to regroup and reset the mind and the body. Instead of the early morning rush, children of all ages should be allowed a more leisurely start to their day. Depending on their age this could be sleeping in (can’t wait until mine reach this stage), LEGO, puzzles, drawing, reading, watching TV or movies, family walk or ride, going outside onto the trampoline and the list could go on forever. You also need to be mentally (and physically) prepared for the “I’m bored” complaint. Due to the fact that during the school term, most of their days are totally scripted by other people and their time doesn’t feel like their own, children can have a hard time adjusting to being in control of their own time and activities. They often feel the need to be constantly entertained or taken places and you might often hear that “there is nothing to do here”.
All of these are signs that their nervous system is heightened and thinks that it needs to stay at that super high level of ‘switched on’. It totally doesn’t! In fact, it’s not good for our bodies to stay switched on all the time. So, not only do we need to let our children switch off, we need to let ourselves switch off and model this for our children. As soon as the holidays start, life feels different for both children and their parents, but for different reasons. Parents, of course, look forward to no school lunches to pack, no drop-off and pick-up runs, no after-school activities and many more term-related activities. Our children have a much different experience. Instead of someone else always telling them what it’s time to do, suddenly there is no schedule and no running from one thing to another. It’s very important to hand some control of this time back to them and let their creative juices flow. Let them be bored – it’s so good for them. They will start playing with those toys that have been untouched for months, they will enjoy playing board games, they will write letters to their friends and cousins. It’s also a great opportunity for children to feel some control over their own lives and take some responsibility for entertaining themselves.
What isn’t going to improve your family time
During precious holiday time, it’s important not to try to juggle your work and your children all day every day. If you are working from home, alternating is the key to balancing the two – some sort of pattern where you focus on your work, then you focus on your kids. This pattern can alternate on different days, half days, hourly or even less – this has to suit your family and your work requirements. It has been scientifically proven that trying to do two things at once means neither task is done as well as it would have been completed if you’d just focussed on one thing at a time. Experience teaches us that our children feel like an after-thought if our attention is also elsewhere on a regular basis, which just leads to more tantrums and stress in the household. Family time can be optimised by incorporating your children into the decision process about what activities you will do when you have time together. When you’re enjoying some time together, let them make some of the decisions. Depending on their age, it could be what’s for dinner, where to go during the day, when to leave etc.
The secret to enjoying time with your family
Now that you know what to expect once the school holidays start and what isn’t going to work to make your time together as a family more enjoyable, it’s time to investigate what will make any family time amazing! Simply – being present together. Now depending on the age of your children, the onus on being present might rest solely with the parents or it might be a case of everyone having to make an effort to be present when you have family time together. So, yes, that means putting that phone down, on silent or entirely away for periods of time during the holidays. As I said if your children are older, you can negotiate together a time when everyone puts their devices away each day or just during a specific activity. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do on your holidays, as long as you prioritise being present.
How I can help you enjoy your holidays with your family
I can help you transform from a mum who dreads school holidays as they approach to a mum who embraces the extra time with her kids and is actually excited by that prospect. Instead of waking with that anxious feeling of “what am I going to do with them today?” you will wake up calm and reassured that you have got this and you know what your day will look like.
So that you can have quality family time and a holiday that will leave everyone, including yourself, happy, grab your copy of the Enjoying Time as a Family guide today!
When you are ready for the rest of your life to be easier and more enjoyable, the logical first step is a personal consultation (either in person or via zoom) where I can get to you the unique needs of your household and develop personalised strategies to transform your happiness for the better.