It happened again. And, once more, I wasn’t prepared.
In the week leading up to the school holidays I let myself fantasise about lazy mornings and no schedules. About no school uniforms to wash and no lunch boxes to pack.
The kids race through the front door after the last day of term, bristling with a level of energy not seen in at least a month, ready to begin their holidays that very second. And I’m right there with them, desperately believing that “this time it’ll be different”.
That night, after the kids fall into bed, excitedly discussing plans for zoo trips and time with friends, I foolishly get led astray by the promise of no schedule, and stay up far too late.
And then, as punishment for my late night, I’m dragged far too early from my slumber with requests for a movie before breakfast, and Netflix with breakfast, and pancakes for breakfast, and do I know where the iPad is? My exhaustion takes over, and, hoping against the odds for just a little more sleep, I agree to everything with my eyes still firmly closed.
Big mistake. Huge. I had unwittingly set the tone for the entire school holidays. And that tone screamed of early mornings and a shameful amount of screen time. By the end of the first week, our days were rapidly disintegrating into tantrums, fights and tears. There was no plan, no schedule, and no motivation.
With an interstate house move planned for a few weeks time, I knew that screen time was going to be inevitable as my husband and I packed and repaired and cleaned, and family outings were going to be rare. What I needed was to give the kids some clear guidelines, and some extra help with how to occupy their days as independently as possible.
Time for a new method.
How to Manage Screen Time During the Holidays
Kids love checklists. They not only offer clear direction for necessary tasks, but kids also love the satisfaction of marking off each item as they complete it.
This is our list from the last school holidays. It’s easy to adapt to suit the ages of your children.
I found that many of the activities naturally led my kids into doing something else – additional to the checklist – so quite often our screen wasn’t turned on until well into the day.
Be prepared to reconsider the outdoor playing if the weather is bad, although playing in the rain can be even more fun for kids than a fine day – just add umbrellas and gumboots.
Beware! You will almost certainly be harassed by your children in the beginning: But what will we play? What can we make? What will I write? What should I draw? What are we going to DO??
Luckily, you’re one step ahead with a list of ideas!
Creating an Activity Ideas Jar for Bored Kids
If they’re not keen or able to think up a list of ideas and activities to act as ready inspiration, then help them make one, or gather their ideas while you put it together. You could write the activities up as a list to choose from, or do as I’ve done, and make a lucky-dip jar of activity ideas.
I’ve used crafting sticks to write on, and blacked-out the jar with tape to stop any sneaky peeking! Having a lid makes it easy to store the jar without losing any of our precious ideas.
I’ve found the idea jar works best if I let my children select no more than three sticks at a time, from which they can then choose one activity.
Add or remove sticks to suit the day or situation. And maybe even mix them up from time to time with fresh ideas to surprise your kids.
What ideas would you add to your jar?
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