Do you dread school holidays? Are you overwhelmed by the prospect of coming up with ways to entertain your children? Don’t worry, you are not alone: Many parents welcome the first day back at school after long weeks of dealing with bored or rebellious kids, but there are ways to make holidays a happier time for everyone:
Safety in Numbers
Not a day goes by without some dire warning about our kids’ over-reliance on technology, so you might be surprised to hear that the old pastimes are still the favourites. A survey of parents of under-tens by the toymaker Chad Valley found that ball games, cycling, and games like chasing or hide and seek remain the top activities among children. Get together with other parents to organise trips to the park or each other’s homes, and just let your kids entertain themselves. Remember, children’s lives today have a huge amount of structure, so it’s good to let them get together with friends and just play.
“I’m bored!” So What?
Do you panic every time your child says she’s bored and instantly conclude that you are a terrible parent? An element of boredom is good for all of us. It indicates a need for change and a motivation to try something new. Watching TV and playing video games don’t help because they are largely passive activities that don’t help your child to develop strategies to avoid boredom and stay busy. Ask your child to think of things they could do to entertain themselves. Suggest that younger children try colouring or playing with Lego, but don’t jump in immediately to find things for them to do. Avoiding boredom is a lifelong skill they need to work out for themselves.
Go to the Library
A visit to the library is a great way to keep your children’s minds busy for an afternoon. Let them choose what they want to read—they will avoid anything too advanced. Once they find an author they like, children will often read everything by that writer, so ask the librarian for advice about similar books if they’ve reached the end of a series and don’t know where to go next.
Tech Is Your Friend
No child should spend every waking hour in front of a screen, but you don’t have to ban all technology. Use it to support other activities. For example, if you are baking with your brood and you’re looking for decorating ideas, you could set up your laptop in the kitchen and browse suitable sites.
If you are worried that your child has too much screen time, agree limits and stick to them. Set an example with your own screen behaviour: That means not using screens at mealtimes or during conversations with your children and not bringing screens to bed. Find activities you can do together without screens, and enjoy your time together as a family. It goes far too quickly.