This post is inspired by my pregnancy and the forced sobriety that comes with it. Otherwise, I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t be downing that $6 bottle of Moscato every night. Before we get our judgy pants on, it is the summer school holidays we’re talking about. Six weeks of exhaustingly long days, nights that are too warm and children resembling wild beasts you might find on safari.
I have seen many a mum express their joy about the school holidays being upon us. ‘Hooray!’ they exclaim. ‘No morning madness! Less structure! More fun!’
Now I’m not sure what kinds of drugs these people have taken, but I would like to get my hands on some, please and thank you. For me, the school holidays equals insanity. The long, never ending days of snack-begging and button-pushing. The constant arguments and inability to keep one’s hands, feet or butts to themselves. The only upside is that I don’t have to be dressed before nine. Don’t call around, I often am not.
So, here’s my Guide to Surviving the School Holidays.
May you be faring better than I this summer.
1. All of the coffee.
I must say it, you all expect it. Caffeinate yourself silly and brace yourself for the horror that unfolds each day.
2. Snack It Up
This is the one time I bend on my loose ban of pre-packaged snacks in the house. I’m talking packets of Tiny Teddies or chips or individual tubs of yoghurt that the older kids can grab themselves. Stock up on fresh fruit too, these kids eat like nothing on earth.
3. Keep Routine
Who decided that shunning routine over school holidays was a good idea? Off with their head, I say. Kids are so much happier when they know what to expect. Of course, you don’t have to keep a rigid routine – the kids will stay up later and you’ll be doing a lot outside the norm. But I find if I have an outline of what each day looks like, I survive a lot easier.
4. Get Out
Go to the park. Get to the pool. Meet up with friends for play dates. Con your parents into having you over for coffee every other day while they’re off work. Don’t keep yourself couped up at home or you will be climbing the walls by day three.
5. Discover Boredom
My kids are always after entertainment and stimulation, as I’m sure most are. I plan an activity or two each day – something outside and something inside – but other than that, they are mostly expected to entertain themselves. Often without electronic devices or television. At first it was hard and the whining drove me crazy. But now they choose to read books, play Lego or make epic Duplo train tracks. And honestly, if I spent all day entertaining them, I wouldn’t get anything else done. Which sounds selfish, but if mum doesn’t get anything done, then no one has dinner or space to do fun activities so it really benefits them too.
6. Make Them Help
My kids are learning that before I can do the fun stuff, I have a few jobs I need to do first every day. Which of course they find absurd and boring. Fortunately, that brings the opportunity to put them to work and learn a new skill. The other day I had my eldest vacuum the floors, before she had her first go at baking cookies. Grocery shopping, packing up and sorting old toys and clothes become family activities if you can get everyone helpful and happy. (Note: three year olds are never happy, do not recommend).
7. Keep a Stash
You’ll need to hide a reasonable quantity of small chocolate bars or something, man. Six weeks is a freaking long time.
8. Plan Something Special
One exciting treat gives everyone something to look forward to for the holidays. We took the kids for a little overnight adventure to the city and a visit to the zoo while we were there. It could be something as simple as a trip to the cinema, a picnic somewhere special or a day trip somewhere new. Keep an eye out for local events or special screenings of films for budget friendly outings.
Music is the best family therapy. Put a little something on and have a loungeroom dance party. My kids are currently loving Taylor Swift and the new Green Day album ‘Revolution Radio’. Okay, we listen to The Wiggles and Big Block Sing Song too, they’re not music snobs yet.
Also, for parents: podcasts. Podcasts are your best friend. The ability to listen to a conversation, interview or just someone’s thoughts on any topic under the sun, – wherever and whenever you like – is just magic. Stick in a headphone and keep your brain happy.
The school holidays are going to be exhausting and ridiculous regardless of what you do, so you may as well enjoy yourself. Sneak in some reading. Sit down with a coffee. Lie on the trampoline and watch the clouds float by. Don’t stress about keeping the house tidy because it’s just going to happen again tomorrow. You’ll have that glorious month of Feburary when the kids go back to school to get the house back to just how you like it.
It’s your job to keep the kids alive, healthy and balanced – not to be their personal entertainer or housemaid. Find something for you to enjoy during the day too.
How do you survive the school holidays? Please share in the comments xo