Utilising the school summer holidays
Rest and relaxation are hugely important for our children and I'm a great believer in allowing them the time they need to do this. I encourage a healthy balance between rest and exploring other ways to make use their free time. The summer break from school can seem like a long few weeks!
For the last six years I've sat together with my children at the beginning of the summer holidays to discuss and plan what they would like to experience and achieve during the weeks ahead. As you'd expect, these discussions have evolved over the years as they have grown.
I'm not a pushy parent by any means but I don't want my children to sit with phones and laptops all day. Believe me though when I say that the struggle is real! If they were left to their own devices they would definitely consume too much screen time and they sometimes do. But this is about not wasting the time that they have when not at school. After all, the older they become, those long summer breaks will be all but a distant memory. My goal is for them to really embrace and enjoy their summer holidays so that they can look back on each one with a sense of satisfaction, achievement and bundles of great memories. And lets not forget, our mental and physical wellbeing as parents is just as important and I've found this exercise positively contributes to this.
What we do may not work for all kids but mine have been very receptive to it. So I thought I'd share this for anyone that may be feeling daunted by the prospect of entertaining their children for weeks at home or frustrated about how the holidays are panning out so far. I don't profess to this being a magic wand but it might just provide some respite in the weeks ahead.
What you'll need:
A piece of A4 or A3 paper
Access to the internet and a printer (not essential)
We look at each of the following areas and they make a list of everything that they would like to do that falls into each of these sections. I encourage them to make each area specific so that they know if they have achieved it. I've added a few examples:
Walking for fifteen minutes each day, swimming once a week, working out at home for twenty minutes, water the garden plants every day, cycling around the block, practicing mindfulness, mowing the lawn, yoga, meditation.
Learn new skills/try something new
Attend a Rookie lifeguard course or get to the next swimming level, climb to the top of a climbing wall, beat their highest number of keepie uppies, learn to crochet, learn three new recipes for dinner, learn to save money and budget, climb a big hill/mountain, attend a drama class, try new foods.
Take photos of wildlife/landscapes/people, build lego, draw portraits of the family, write their CV, keep a diary, paint pictures, send postcards to family and friends.
Are there areas they want to work on that you can help them with? i.e. confidence, determination, inner harmony, fun, acceptance, strength, discipline etc.
Reading for pleasure
Reading a certain number of books or listening to the audio versions.
Avoid gadgets or set boundaries for their use
They set their own boundaries and, as the parent, check these are realistic. Some negotiation may be involved. It could be 1 hour before lunch and 1 hour after lunch.
Camping (in the garden), staying with relatives, free activities in the local area, going to the beach, taking a picnic to the local park, visiting a museum/castle etc.
Meeting with friends/family, going to the cinema, going for a meal out.
Help at home
Hoovering, cleaning bathrooms, dusting, keeping bedroom tidy, washing, ironing, bins.
Morning and evening routines
What will their mornings and evenings look like? Wake up time, wind down time, bed time etc so that good quality sleep is forthcoming.
Any other areas
Anything that doesn't fit into the above
Time to get creative by putting together a visual 'Summer Plan' on paper. If available, they can print out images, draw pictures, write words, decorate their vision board to match their plan. Mine often keep different focus areas to different sections of their vision board so that it is easy to look at. I try to motivate my children to take the lead on this. To work out what is going to be part of their vision board and ultimately part of their summer break. They are much more likely to take ownership for their decisions and see them through. It helps to focus them, build excitement and purpose.
If you haven't tried this before and decide to give it a go with your children I'd love to know how you get on.