School holidays can be a challenging time for parents, especially when you’re trying to juggle work or other commitments as well as have fun with the kids. Our Child, Youth and Schools Education Coordinator Elisabeth Fraser has put together some ideas to make your time count with the kids.

School holidays tend to evoke mixed feelings from parents - joy over the extra time with our kids, stress over balancing work and childcare, and dread over entertaining bored children. But parents today spend more time with their kids than ever before* - so ditch the guilt and prioritise your own happiness alongside your kids. 

  1. Embrace Boredom. If last year’s lockdown taught us anything, it’s that a little bit of boredom does no harm. In fact, boredom is good for kids. School term is a busy time, and add on extra-curricular activities and busy weekends – school holidays can be embraced as an opportunity to slow down. With practise, kids get better at being bored, when it happens more often, they are more likely to get creative with what they’ve got. 
  2. Don’t feel the need to entertain. You’re a parent, and your own person, not an entertainer! Allocate time for play and activities with your kids, and allocate time for yourself and your own interests, chores or work. Your kids can join in if it’s suitable, if not they will make their own fun, or they will whine that you’re not playing – but they will survive! 
  3. Find common ground. Try to find activities that both you and the kids enjoy. I go crazy playing imaginative play with my daughter, but painting and craft is enjoyable for both of us. Maybe it’s working on a home project together, gardening, bush walking, kicking a ball, or baking – find something you both love to do together. 
  4. Make screens better. We all know the guidelines around kids watching TV**, but screentime can be made so much more valuable with active engagement and discussion. Before watching – tune in to prior knowledge by asking your child to make predictions about what will happen in that episode, talk about what happened in the episode afterwards – what positive choices did the characters make? What mistakes did they make and how were they resolved? Jump online and find craft activities for your kids favourite shows. Or even better – put your feet up and watch something together – nature documentaries are great for adults and kids alike, or choose a favourite movie from your own childhood to share. 
  5. Get outdoors and get moving. Fresh air is great for adults and kids alike, and winter is no reason to be cooped up. Head to an op-shop, and get everyone a raincoat and get outdoors. A winter walk at the beach is sure to yield lots of interesting treasures that the wild weather has washed ashore, or walk in the rain to your local café for hot chocolates.   
  6. Keep it simple. Quality time doesn’t have to involve lots of work and elaborate planning – everything is learning when accompanied with trial and error, play, exploration and discussion. check out our activity tiles for meaningful, fun and educational ideas for learning at home. 

*https://ourworldindata.org/parents-time-with-kids 

** https://www.who.int/news/item/24-04-2019-to-grow-up-healthy-children-need-to-sit-less-and-play-more