Manage Family Stress – Happy Children Make for Happy Holidays
As the next raft of school holidays approaches it is important to think about what you are going to do with the time. Even a small amount of planning can make the time spent over the holidays much more pleasurable.
Forward Thinking can Bring Results:
– Investigate holiday clubs, football courses, local authority fun days. Many areas have got wise to the business opportunities of providing entertainment to keep children occupied during long school holidays.
– Then there are grandparents who may well relish the time taking the children out for one or a few days.
– Consider a swap day with another parent. Have her child one day and then she has yours another day.
– Some university students may want to child mind on a casual basis over the holidays. Look to your contacts for responsible students, home on the break.
– If you work, maybe you could work from home over the holidays. This gives you flexible hours to do your job and allows you daytime to spend with the children.
Set a Project:
– Children love being motivated to achieve a goal. So maybe set a challenge like learning to ride a bicycle or swim a set distance at the swimming pool. Doing exercise means that they expend energy and the competitive edge is a good way to motivate them.
– A creative project is good for wet weather. Maybe painting or keeping a log or a diary of the holidays can be an absorbing way to pass an afternoon.
Keep it Simple:
– Children often enjoy simple pleasures more than elaborate, expensive times. Think of the child happily playing with the cardboard box whilst the expensive gift is pushed to one side. They value time spent with them playing games, collecting leaves or shells whilst on a walk, recognising birds, making cards, having a picnic in the garden, making cakes and biscuits. These are the times recalled with affection by both parent and child. The times that money cannot buy.
– Sit down with the children and ask them to list all the things that they would like to do. Then discuss the list and find compromises that work for everyone concerned. The fact that it has been discussed will help the children to feel important, involved and considered.
– Get outside. Planting a corner of the garden with herbs, vegetables or plants can be extremely satisfying and absorbing to children. Even playing with leaves, sticks and stones can be fun. Maybe turn them into a painting or collage.
– Use your local park. They may have a petting zoo or crazy golf. Even taking several children and having an afternoon playing rounders or football can be a satisfying way to spend an afternoon.
Share the Responsibilty for Planning:
– Let each child take turns in deciding how to spend a day. Maybe give them a budget so that they know how much money they have allocated for the venture. That in itself can be an exciting task, finding out costs, arranging where to go, what they can afford. It can make budgeting more real as it is a complex task that they have to manage.
– There is no need to have every day filled with activities. Put a chart up that shows what is scheduled over the time. This can also show the quieter days where they can amuse themselves.
– Let the children have some flexibility. Relax some of the rules that they normally have to follow, so let them stay up a little later, watch more TV at times, take a break from homework. It is their holiday from work.
Use the Time to Make Changes:
– Resolutions can be made at any time, but when there is plenty of time available it can be a good opportunity to introduce positive changes, like them cleaning their rooms, having specific jobs each week, or the family taking time to cook and eat healthier meals as a family.
– Long school holidays can also be a good time to think of others and maybe fund raise for a particular charity. Take time to choose an important charity and then set about organising money raising activities.
Learn About Quiet Time:
– Children are often being stimulated. TV, computers, music, video games. Many children spend hours watching a TV or computer screen and often end up over stimulated as a result. Spend some time each day relaxing and being quiet. Learn to turn the lively, excitable switch down a little. Entertainment should not be constant. So turn off the noise and the flashing images and be still for an hour.
All these are ways to plan for a happy time spent with your children. It does not have to cost a lot of money, but by being organised and having a plan, you can manage stress and ensure that it is a time full of happy memories for all.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist