Today’s post is brought to you by Kate from Meetoo. Kate has her finger on the pulse of all the great things to do with kids in Melbourne. Here’s her top tips for planning ahead for the school holidays. Over to you Kate…
PLANNING AHEAD FOR SCHOOL HOLIDAYS SPENT AT HOME
As much as travel and holidays away from home can be exciting and full of adventure – there is something to be said for holidays spent at home. We love spending holidays in our hometown (and it happens to be one of the best places in the world so that helps – not that we’re biased). Time spent at home allows for down time and reconnecting.
If you’re the parent who (as I have been) is managing the day to day for an extended period, I can vouch that it’s not all sweetness and light. So these are my top tips for getting yourself ready for school holidays and making the most of that precious time where mornings can be relaxed and school uniforms can be packed away.
Stock your cupboards
Okay, this is probably an obvious one – but it’s the one I never never skip. Going to the supermarket with my kids these days is an exercise in hostage negotiations (where I am the Chief Commissioner). So I always make sure I have done a big shop before the holidays and stocked up on all the general supermarket supplies that will keep us going for a few weeks – that way the fruit, veg, meat and bread can be purchased at the grocer, butcher and bakery (all of which are infinitely smaller and not filled with 100’s of chocolates and random products we don’t need).
Have some emergency activities up your sleeve
After about two days of one on one play time at home my two start getting a bit antsy with each other – this is the time to pull out some distractions. A new activity book or a board game, maybe a new DVD or download (our local library is a great excursion to collect a few DVDs and books).
Making a cake or planning a DIY project at home (Pinterest is a brilliant resource for things to do at home with kids) can be a quick win when unstructured play beings to wane – for this to really work it needs to be lead by the child, so while I might plant the seed of an idea if the kids aren’t interested then I don’t push on (unless we actually need a cake).
Plan some play dates and catch-ups
We have “holiday” friends. These are essentially my friends, with kids of similar ages, who we catch up with during school holidays. We might join forces and keep each other sane at some holiday activity or we might just have a park date followed by a meal (sometimes we even spend a few days together). We’ve been doing this for about five years and these days the kids ask when will we get to see x, y and z – which is a win-win for me as it means I get to hang out with their mum while they all entertain each other.
Another bonus of school holidays at home is that we have time to catch up with other friends – both my kids have good friends they love to see who don’t go to their school, so playdates mean they can have plenty of time to reconnect and it gets them out of their siblings hair (and mine) for a few hours or a day… and the upside is that they then get invited to play at their friends house – so it’s a few hours kid free for me.
Build in time to recharge
Because I work a couple of days a week I get enough of a “break” from the chaos and whinge factor meaning I can make it through a two-week school break without having my own breakdown. But if you are the number one carer for 16 days straight I highly recommend building in some time out.
This could be in the form of playdates (as I mentioned above) or time the kids spend with extended family or school holiday programs. Half day or full day holiday programs might feel like a dent in the weekly budget, but if it buys you a few hours to go to the supermarket in peace or sit quietly with a coffee or go to a yoga class (whatever floats your boat) then it’s an investment in your sanity and could make the difference between loosing your cool and having a good week.
Reset your expectations
Golden rule – just because your think something sounds awesome to you doesn’t mean the kids will automatically agree. When it comes to events or outings I usually keep a few surprises up my sleeve (especially things I’m not 100% decided on or might be weather dependant) but where I can I involve the kids in some of the decision-making – obviously this varies depending on the age of your child, but at 7 and 9 my two are now vocalising what they want to do (or in some cases, don’t want to do!). Where we can (within reason) I will ask the kids if there is something special they want to do or see – and we try and include it in our holiday schedule.
Keep it simple
You might read this heading and think well that’s a bit rich given the kids and I appear to be going somewhere or doing something new everyday. It’s true that our reality, given we review events, is slightly different to most, buuuut what you don’t see on my social media is the hours they spend building forts out of couch cushions and blankets (believe me if there was a way to actually photograph it in a beautiful way I probably would share it) and the make-believe games they play and the LEGO they build and rebuild and so on. We might attend a few more events than other families, but I am always keen to let the kids spend as much time as possible at free play – there is nothing quite like it, and I fear it’s probably only going to last for a couple more years at best.
Get out of your house
The fastest way for me to go gaga is to be a prisoner in my own home. Two days in a row is about as long as I can go before I need to get out of the house and do something. A bike ride, a park visit, a coffee in a cafe, a trip into the city to visit gallery/museum/attraction, an outing to the cinema, a holiday activity, a day trip to the country – the options are endless.
It too will pass
School holidays are one of those things I both love and hate. I love not rushing, I love having real time with my kids that is fun, I love the fact that bedtimes slide a little, I love our conversations and sitting back and watching them solve problems, I love stopping and smelling the roses. But it can be exhausting. I find the whining, pestering, sibling niggles, the negotiations and inevitable tantrums get me down. But some days these things are a minor blip on the radar – and that’s the sweet spot…
Are you a parent who is filled with sadness when school returns or are you counting down the hours to that first drop off? Need some ideas for what to do during the school holidays in Melbourne?
Thanks so much to Kate for these tips. Something to look forward to for when Ava’s at school next year!