When my kids were small, I used to dread the thought of three weeks of holiday. I was not sure what I could do to keep them entertained for almost a month.
Now they are in middle school, the term is so busy with school, sport, homework, projects and the demands of everyday life, that I long for the holidays. I long for an opportunity to spend quality time with them. Laughing, joking, chatting about life. We love to go on adventures and try to ditch as much routine as we can. For those of you that have been following me, or know me really well, you will understand what a challenge this is for me. I love structure, rules and routine. They are my security blanket. But I have decided that I am going to use the holidays as a time where time does not matter. The holidays are there to help us make lasting memories, reinforce our family bonds and have fun, lots and lots of fun.
Here is a list of a few ways that we have found help us reach our holiday goals.
I work, and just because the kids are on holiday, it does not mean that Mom and Dad are, so we have to have an understanding and compromise. My children understand that if they entertain themselves for a few hours and let me work, we then have the rest of the day to spend together. The more they interrupt me, the longer I need to finish what I need to do.
The children understand that money does not grow on trees, so although I always put aside money to be able to spoil them a bit in the holidays, we spend the first few days looking for activities that we can do that are not expensive. I was shocked at how many things there are to entertain children without breaking the bank.
We plan our outings around meal time, unless we are intending to eat out that day, we either pack a picnic to take with us or ensure that we are home for lunch. Kids of today have a built in response that as soon as they arrive somewhere they are either hungry or thirsty. We have worked very hard to try and get rid of this mind set and surprisingly it seems to be working. I also put their wallets in my bag and if they beg, I hand them their wallet and tell them they can buy it themselves. It is amazing how quickly they change their mind when it is their money they are spending.
I make sure that we have days at home where I don’t plan a thing, the aim of these days are that it gets the kids creativity going again. They actually learn to create their own games and play together. They learn how to compromise and not to fight and argue with each other. The hard part is that as a Mom, you have to work very hard on biting your tongue. I don’t shout at them, I don’t get involved with their squabbles and if they say they are board, I suggest that they can always come inside and read a book. They very quickly decide to resume their game outside. Don’t get me wrong, I always encourage my children to read, but we all know that boys would rather be outside running around than inside reading a book.
We take time to slow down and smell the roses. We take in all the natural beauty around us and if we see an insect of animal, we see what else we can learn about it. The older kids take great pride in education the younger ones about the things that they know.
I take every possible opportunity to educate them on life lessons, decision making, choices and consequences. Children of today are so very bright and are far more advanced intellectually than we ever were, yet they seem to be lacking the basic life skills that we had when we were their age.
The holidays are the perfect opportunity for you to embrace these lessons and skills. Instead of preparing food for your children, teach them how to cook. Teach them patience, not everything has to be done on command, teach them how to compromise. Have a chart for good and bad behaviour, if they behave badly, it has a knock on effect when it comes to them choosing an outing. If they behave well, empower them, it is amazing how well they can behave if they want to.
Keeping their school work and areas that they may be battling with in mind. Find fun ways that you can help them without them knowing they are learning. For example, Joshua still battles with telling the time, so yesterday when they had pizza for lunch, I asked him to show me when he had eaten a quarter of his pizza, and then a half until it was finished. He also had to tell me if he was going past the point he started at and when he was moving to the end. All of a sudden it fell into place. Keagan needs practise with following written instructions, so instead of loading the details of where we were going on my GPS, I loaded it on my phone and he had to tell me where to go. Don’t pay for things, get them to pay and check their change. They love to feel grown up and capable, let them do it while you have time on your side.
Empower them to choose wisely, to become capable, and to feel confident!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!!