Festive Season Planning
We all long for holiday periods and time to relax with family and friends, particularly in the turbulent times that we currently find ourselves. However, sometimes, once the holidays are upon us, work stress can replaced by home stress. This can often be the case when caring for young children with the added pressure of visiting family over the Festive Season, and no doubt some work pressure creeping its way in too. Here are a few tips that we hope are of help!
Holiday School: This is a great plan for keeping children busy whilst you are finishing up work or need to get errands done. Find out which classmates are going along and then the holiday school visit is like a play date that you do not need to supervise!
Routine and Ground Rules: The parenting tips for the last term have been around the theme of ‘enabling development’ through encouraging independence and promoting choice, all within a framework of clear ground rules. Without the routine of school in place children will be looking for a little structure, and I am sure you will too.
Even with young children you can have a family chat about the rules that you would all like to follow:
Put away your toys
Do your chores (even the smallest person in the house can have a simple chore.)
Eat at the table
TV and screen time limits to be set
Snuggle and story at bedtime.
Limiting screen time: this is central to your plan. Limits on devices need to be realistically set and enforced. There are many educational YouTube channels (we have recently been introduced to Mark Rober, a science and engineering enthusiast https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCY1kMZp36IQSyNx_9h4mpCg). TV programmes can even include cooking and travel programmes along with the wildlife favourites. It could be fun to make a list of classic family films to watch and have some movie nights.
Choose a book to read as a family over the holidays: there are so many classics of children’s literature, longer chapter books that lend themselves to a daily read together.
Chores: these can be adapted to all ages and can be done daily. Older children love the idea of earning money, so an extra chore can be great to encourage too, such as washing cars and windows, show them the skill and provide suitable tools.
Recycling: set up a recycling station at home if you do not have one already and start some eco-bricking or creating an aluminium foil ball for recycling. See what crafts you can make by re-purposing. Model the behaviour that you want to see: Children will quickly become disenchanted if you are not clear and consistent. Remember the rules and follow them too. A classic example is that of listening, we expect children to listen to us and yet are often distracted ourselves when our children talk to us.
Be present: When talking, walking, or playing with your little person, engage and have quality time together, put your phone away and enjoy the moment. A short period of quality time sharing a game is productive and validating for you both.
Fun activities at home: Spend some time setting up activity areas at home. A craft table, a relaxing book area, a gardening patch or a mud kitchen could probably all be created using what you already have at home.
Indoor soft play: This is great for a rainy day, pile up cushions and blankets and make some dens and forts.
Have a family games challenge: Find a game that you can all play and keep a running total of wins to see who ends up as the family champ.
Entertaining: Involve the children when you are having guests. They could help with a simple recipe, set the table or make decorations and help to serve snacks. Great for the development of social skills.
Sort through toys, books and clothes: The festive season is a time of giving, so it may well be the time to sort through outgrown things with your children and take them along to a local charity collection.
Tackle a project together: Children love a challenge, so involve them in a project over the holidays. Maybe you want to plant a herb or veggie garden, re-organise your garage, make Xmas decorations or cards, complete a photo album, the list is endless.
Learn a new skill: With a little more time at home this maybe the opportunity to help your little person to ride their trike of bike, learn to swim, maybe there is something that you could learn together?
Set up a tent in the garden: This is great for play and practicing camping!
Take regular walks in your neighbourhood parks: Outings can be simple and cheap just enjoy strolling, observing, chatting or having a simple picnic together.
Plan some bigger outings: Make a list of more involved trips and plan ahead for suitable opportunities to go to the theatre (Jack and the Bean Stalk at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre), movies, the Botanic Gardens, Ushaka, Tala Game Reserve, Burnedale, Sugar Rush, Flag Farm Just a few ideas for day trips around Durban. More ideas can be found at https://www.instagram.com/whats_on_durban/?hl=en
Handling change: Get ready for the trip, but check the weather and make the final announcement once you are sure that you can make it happen to avoid disappointment. Sometimes there are just too many moving parts to coordinate at this busy time of year. Handling change effectively is a developing skill for little people and whilst good to give practice in this skill, choose your moments!
Have your own time: These are just ideas that will make all or your time together more meaningful and help your little person feel more contented. With this, you will also be able to have your own time to re-charge and rest. Call in the visiting relatives for some babysitting duty! Parents have rights too after all!