Can you keep calm during the dreaded school hols?
You’d think school holidays would be easy and you’d be able to keep calm as the kids will be off playing while you get on with doing stuff around the house. But no, it’s really not that simple. There’ll be sibling squabbles to referee, lost toys to find, bumps and bruises to deal with, not to mention the food prep merry-go-round of snack time, lunch time and then snack time again.
We need a plan, Stan
During the Easter holidays, I discovered a way to make life a little easier. My eldest, Boo, who is 5, finds it hard to just go and play. He likes structure and guidance and when he doesn’t get this, aggression and fighting bubble up all too often leaving a fraught time for all in his wake. He’d also been away from school thanks to chicken pox, extending our school holiday by a week. And he really had missed being there. I realised one of the reasons he loves school so much is that they have a set schedule. He knows what he’s doing and when.
Taking this idea I decided to set up a daily holiday schedule – nothing fancy but flexible enough to accommodate any changes if needed. I got Boo involved too as he likes to feel in control so getting his input was important.
First off I made a list of activities that the boys like, including crafting, colouring in, playing in the garden, baking, Lego building, dancing and reading.
I split the day into three with snack and lunch times as a guide. Then I put in a couple of activities per section. One of our days looked something like this:
9 – 9.30 free play
9.30 – 10 colouring in / workbook time (writing practice and counting numbers)
10 – 10.30 crafting
Snack time (and tea time for mummy!)
11 – 12.15 playing in the garden
Lunch time and free play
1.15 – 2 games
2 – 2.30 dancing / music time
2.30 – 3.15 baking
3.30 – 4.15 free play
4.15 – 5 DVD /cartoons
I left some activities purposefully vague. Dancing and music time for instance meant we did some singing (nursery rhymes) or played musical statues – the soundtrack to Despicable Me is a favourite! Sometimes we got out toy instruments and had a good bash for a few minutes followed by dancing to some kids’ videos on YouTube; The Learning Station have some lovely ones even if they are a little cheesy.
Keep it relaxed
Keeping things relaxed meant that although we had a plan we could be flexible about it and change things depending on the boys’ mood or energy levels. Even during free play times I tried to get the boys to decide what kinds of things they want to do. If they were in the garden I’d get the outdoors toys in place. Boo had great fun with the mud kitchen equipment (wooden spoons and plastic bowls), he decided to make a ‘cake’ with grass, leaves and twigs. Once he has an idea in his mind he then tends to get on with it.
I was always nearby to help out if needed or to redirect things should they be flagging a bit. I knew when they were losing interest as they started jumping on each other or they’d invent a game our local soft play would be proud of involving running across the sofa and jumping onto cushions. The schedule helped me to keep calm too as I knew roughly how much time I’d have to get housework done or to bash out a new blog post. It also helped me prepare in advance for what we were doing next and meant I wasn’t caught off-guard when the boys wanted to change their activity. We simply looked at the schedule and changed things around. It worked so well that Boo began asking at breakfast what was on the plan for the day.
Lots of activities needed to stave off boredom…
It was still tiring having to keep coming up with fresh activities constantly, I don’t know how teachers do it day in day out! However, I’d cannily found The Weekend Box club activity membership for kids prior to Easter thanks to another blogger and had signed up. The Weekend Box Club create and send quality activity packs for 3 to 6 year olds straight to your door.
We received our first boxes half way through the holidays, just in time too! Boo and Tiddler’s first boxes were rainforest themed (thankfully they both received the same theme, I dread to think of the squabbles if they’d got a different themed box each – the company knows children well!). Their boxes included:
- Make a bubble wrap snake
- Bake oat and raisin cookies
- Grow your own rainforest
- Make a parrot mask
Each activity was in its own bag with an instruction card containing a fun fact about rainforests. Though the instructions were a little basic (causing me to lose my calm once or twice when the boys were eager to get going and I was still trying to work out what to do!) we still had lots of fun. We tried the bubble wrap snake first during one of our crafting times:
The materials are mostly the sort of stuff you’d find around the house but it was nice to have an activity idea on hand with all the bits ready without having to snuffle around in the craft drawer first. The lovely box packaging and theme made it a nice idea too and the boys were very excited about getting their own post.
Try your own Weekend Box for free!
If you have a 3 to 6 year old, try your own Weekend Box completely free (usually £7.50 for a 4-activity box).
The holidays might be drawing to a close but I’d still recommend these boxes for a weekend too and there are lots of bank holidays coming up when the kids will need something to keep them busy.
I’m glad I came up with the holiday plan. Aside from helping me to keep calm, the boys loved deciding what fun to have each day. Getting their input gave them a sense of control too, which I think is important. Also, we didn’t have a schedule every day of the holidays, sometimes the boys were quite happy to just play together without me getting involved. Today they’ve got their pop-up knights castle and have been playing knights having a picnic for the past hour (a game they made up themselves 🙂 )
A schedule can still be useful to reduce fraught weekends or bank holidays. Just plan away then relax and give yourself a pat on the back when you finally slump onto the sofa after another fun-packed day!
Do you use any tricks to keep calm during the school holidays? Have you tried a plan like this? Let me know by commenting below!