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Parents' Holiday Survival Guide - making the most of your holiday

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You survived Christmas, but will you survive the January school holidays with your sanity and relationship with your kids intact.

Keeping children occupied for up for five weeks or more can be a daunting task, particularly for modern kids for whom four or five extra-curricular activities a week are the norm. Highly-organised school routines come to a grinding halt during the term holidays, leaving kids of all ages with time on their hands. And they frequently turn to parents to keep them occupied.

1. Make yourself scarce every day....but not all the time

The funny thing about being available is that kids begin to rely on you. The holidays may provide the chance to wean you them off you! Make sure you have some time on your own to do your own thing. As I wrote in my book Thriving! holidays should be a mixture of ‘Me ’time and ‘Them’ time, so make sure you have some time to yourself!!!

2. Mix up routines

Some kids feel comfortable with the routines of school-life and can feel a little lost until the new holiday routine kicks in. Be patient with these routine-junkies! Also make sure you begin adjusting the routine as a return to school comes closer so kids are prepared to for going to bed and getting up at earlier times.

3. Resist being an entertainment officer

While we want our kids to be occupied, it’s worthwhile remembering that kids also need some downtime. The opportunity to relax and unwind is a pre-requisite for good mental health so make sure the kids have an opportunity to take a break from the usual grind, and become bored. “I’m bored” is an invitation for kids to keep themselves occupied rather than for you to keep them amused. Alternatively, think of inexpensive, fun ways to keep themselves amused.

4. Keep them active

It’s well-documented that today’s children lead more sedentary lifestyles than their parents lead at the same age. The minimum of an hour a day’s exercise is quite a challenge for children who spend a great deal of their free time in front of screens. Encourage kids to play outside as much as possible. Perhaps you can take them to a park with a friend and leave them to play on their own, and allow them return home on their own.

5. Do something different

One way to make holidays memorable is to do something that you wouldn’t normally do with your children. Take a train ride to the country and spend a day in a country town or regional centre. If you live in the bush take a train to the city. It’s doesn’t have to be expensive, just different and fun to stick in their memories.

Holidays offer the chance to broaden your child’s social circle and spend extended time with their friends. Create opportunities to spend time with other families preferably with children the same age as yours.

6. Team up with other families.

Team up with other families and share the holiday load. You don’t have to holiday together to get these benefits. Share the child-minding with a friend or swap sleep-overs where you look after my kids and I’ll look after yours for a night or two gives you a break and gives children a different family experience.

The holidays don’t have to be stressful for parents. Look for a balance of activities, team up with others and resist the temptation to keep your kids busy every minute of the day.

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