The holidays are coming, and you’ve got family to entertain-what do you do?
Summer is fast approaching. The weather is doing its now all too familiar topsy-turvy, keep us all guessing game of ‘will it rain, snow or have tropical temperatures today?’ However, for many of us the bigger question than do you need a coat, Wellie boots or sunscreen, is ‘what can I do with the kids?!
If you have school age children the six week summer break can seem like a massive and impossible void to fill. However, with a little forethought and planning you can take to it like a breeze – even if there’s a gale blowing outside…
• Planning a vacation – whether you’re going abroad or having a stay-cation, factoring in local activities for any children you have with you is always worth doing. Alleviating the inevitable stress that comes with travelling with young family members is, of course, difficult. Repeated declarations of ‘I’m bored’ or THAT question (you know the one…’Are we nearly there yet?) can make the journey feel like a trip to hell and back. Much of this can be lessened with a bit of planning and a shift in mind-set. Try to see the journey as the start of the holiday, the beginning of the fun. As tempting as it is to just let the kids play on their iPads the whole time, it is also quite an isolating pursuit. Instead, bring distracting activities for kids such as colouring or quiz books. Create a playlist of everyone’s favourite songs for a car journey. Organise fun little competitions such as spotting particular makes of cars, planes in the clouds, cows in a field etc.
If you’re staying at a hotel see if there are kids clubs offered, find out what facilities are available and the age ranges catered for. Many places now offer a babysitting service. This could be a great option if you’re a couple or a single parent and fancy a night out on your own being an adult! Remember you are supposed to be on holiday too, so finding ways to have a break from full on responsibility mode is important if it can be arranged.
Accept that during this time many routines may get disrupted – staying up later, travelling, meals etc. All this has its impact on people’s mood. Bare this in mind and try to accept it and not let it affect your mood too much. It is the holidays after all!
• Kids’ activities – depending on your work and financial restraints you may need to look into summer playschools and camps. Many of these are really well organised now, with lots of amazing activities. They do get booked up quickly though, so you may need to book relatively early. There are plenty of apps out now that can help plan day trips, with many options for those on a tight budget. Then again, children often want nothing more than to go to the park or local playground. Remember, it doesn’t have to be full on action and variety every day. Find out what other parents are doing – some may be able to offer ideas or even help out with play dates and days out. Most children do actually miss their classmates over the prolonged break, so organising times to meet up could offer emotional relief.
It’s a nice idea to try and plan family activities that involve everyone in the decision making. This is particularly useful if everyone has different interests. Time table events so that everyone knows what is happening and when. That way everyone knows what is expected of them and has things to look forward to and plan around.
Accommodating the different needs and likes of family members can be difficult. One way to tackle this is to dedicate individual time to spend together. One to one time with a child, various siblings, or a partner is crucial in keeping the connection and communication strong and tension free. Planning quality time together, both as a family group, and with its individual members, will do wonders for the dynamics during the holiday period and after.
• Teenagers – the somewhat old-fashioned idea of the stereotypical, moody teenager who does not want to spend any more time than is necessary with their family, still prevails. However, this should not necessarily be taken at face value - even if their face is apparently full of disdain! The key here, once again, is planning and communication. Perhaps agreeing a particularly day or even just a regular mealtime that you all spend together will suffice. Showing interest in their interests, asking to attend events together, can all contribute to strengthening the bond whilst still acknowledging a teenagers growing sense of independence. Yes, most teenagers want to spend the majority of their time out with their friends. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t’ value and enjoy time with you. It just needs to be discussed, mutually agreed, and so, valued.
• Downtime – just as important as planning ways to keep everyone busy and happy, is allowing for time to do nothing. Feeling like you should always be ‘doing’ something creates its own stress. Sometimes just relaxing at home, reading, allowing the kids to get a bit bored, is actually just what is needed. Children are so used to be being instantly and constantly stimulated that their innate imagination can become stunted. From boredom can spring many of the best ideas. Leave kids to their own devices for a while and many a den of blankets and chairs will end up being made!
Ultimately, how you tackle the holiday period comes down mainly to the make-up of your family dynamics, your resources (both in time and money) and what you want to get out of the time. Embrace the time together and the change in routine as it won't last forever. Change your mindset from having to endure and survive to one of enjoying and relaxing. Why not have an uplifting call with one of our Psychic Readers who can help get you in the right mood.
Taking the time to plan, to think about the needs and interests of all family members (including yourself!), involving everyone to whatever degree is suitable, should lead to a much more enjoyable holiday time for all.