While children excitedly count down to their summer vacations, working parents who aren’t taking leave are likely to be found counting the days until school starts again. As working from home during the pandemic reminded us – it’s hard to reach deadlines, do your best work, keep the kids happy AND look decent for Zoom calls at the same time.
Whether your kids are spending some of their vacation at holiday camps or with their grandparents and friends, you will likely still need some skillful juggling and organizational skills. If you’re panicked or stressed about what to do over the vacation, here are some tips and strategies to help you manage – and even enjoy it!
Look around for any age-appropriate day camps or vacation activities that your kids can do. Ask around on local Facebook groups to see if anything is happening in your area – whether it’s at your church, school, community centre or gym.
See if any family members can help with holiday activities, or if there are any play dates with friends that can be arranged. You could also look at getting childcare on some days to watch your kids and keep them busy.
Prepare your kids
Explain to your kids what the holiday schedule is – what their days might look like and what has been planned (for example play dates, movie nights, quiet time and crafts). Tell them how you’ll all need to work together to make the vacation a smooth and fun one. Explain how you won’t be available all the time to entertain them or play, but that you’ll let them know each week what is planned, and when you can spend time with them.
It might be fun to create a calendar together of holiday events and activities so that everyone is prepared, and expectations are managed.
Keep it simple
Not every hour of every day needs a plan or activity – try to opt for something “cool” each day, whether it’s a movie night, baking cookies or swimming. Some of the most fun and memorable things don’t need a lot of effort or expense – just ask any adult who fondly remembers building epic forts from blankets and towels when they were young.
Speak to your employer
Chat to your boss about whether you can work more flexibly, take some afternoons off or even start work earlier to finish earlier. It’s important to reassure your boss that you can still be productive while trying to accommodate your kids.
Stock up on holiday supplies
Ensure you have everything ready for the next few weeks from crafting materials and baking ingredients to snacks and games. Your stationery and craft list could include crayons, kokis, string, paint, building clay, glue, activity paper, cardboard, beads, fabric paint, stickers, fun stick-ons, colouring-in books. Good ol fashioned games like Snakes and Ladders, Junior Monopoly, Twister, Uno, chess, backgammon and cards can provide hours of fun, depending on your child’s age.
It can be fun to give your child something as a “surprise” each day to build up excitement, whether it’s a cool pen, a new app, craft or book. These don’t have to be expensive, and they can make each day special – plus they can encourage good behavior while you’re working too.
By being stocked up, you’ll also be encouraging them to “self entertain”, whether it’s coloring in, doing a puzzle, reading a book or playing with an app.
Get some new apps and subscribe to a streaming service
We’re not saying that being glued to the screen all day and all night is a good thing, but there’s a place for age-appropriate entertainment that makes kids happy and keeps you working uninterrupted.
Some activity ideas for younger kids
Bake cupcakes and cookies – get creative with different cutters and colorful icing
Color-code books on the shelf.
Create fun science projects – there are loads of these online
Go camping in your garden
Have a tea party at home with treats that you’ve baked – you could even dress up for
Put together a family show
Host movie events – take turns choosing movies
Start a veggie patch or herb garden, or sprout your own plants from beans
Create a scavenger hunt in your house or garden
Play dress-up at home
Using fabric paint, decorate socks, old T-shirts and anything you’re happy to part with
Create an obstacle course at home for some exercise
Learn how to do kids’ yoga or martial arts via YouTube
Make jewellery – paint pasta shapes and string them, or use an assortment of beads
Wash all toys in a bath or washing bin – add bubbles, sponges and cloths
Have a pyjama party and make all the food for it
Print out the photos from your phone and create a physical photo album
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