I know we all struggle with keeping the kids entertained when they are on holidays, so I thought I’d give you my top 5 hacks to staying home with the kids and how not to loose your marbles in the process!
1. FORGET YOUR SCHEDULE
Of all the things you can do to preserve your sanity over the holiday times, this is possibly the BEST advice I got from another mom. Forget about your schedule. Keep the routine; breakfast, bath time, bed time etc, but forget YOUR schedule. You can fit your errands in around the activity. I say this because we all know that kids are unpredictable. Just writing this paragraph has been interrupted twice! My plans for the day chop and change as they play, get tired, need a nap, need a snack or need to just have a time out. Keep your list close by, but don’t have the expectation that you will get too much done, this helps you stops getting frustrated and keeps your priority on your kids.
2. KEEP TRACK OF THE TIME
Kids have a routine. They thrive on it, they even have a routine in homes that don’t have any. For example, if your kid goes to creche, play school or big school, there are things during the day that happen at certain times. Snack time, break time, play time etc. When they are home with you, they are used to these things happening at a certain time of day. I always notice that my kids get cranky at around 10h30/11h00 if I haven’t remembered that this is the time they usually have a snack at school. So I keep an eye on the time and we all have a drink of water/juice/tea with a small snack at 10h30ish. This keeps the crank down and alleviates a meltdown later on when they can’t understand why they’re crabby because they didn’t have their regular snack. So whenever possible, keep track of those important times of day, if you’re traveling pack a sambo lunch (I always have some in my bag in front with juice and water for this), if you’re heading out for an outing order their food first, this way you can keep the peace a little easier.
3. BED TIME, IS BED TIME
I know what you’re thinking, it’s holidays, let them stay up late! Sure, you can do this as long as you know that in the morning they will sleep later. In my home things can get a little unpredictable in the mornings with the little one waking up anywhere between 05h00 and 06h30, depending on his level of excitement affects the bigger one who then wakes up too early, grumpy. So I was given the advice that bed time should remain reasonably similar during holiday times, especially for kids under 10. This type of routine is good for them, it’s good for their cognitive growth and development, it’s good for them to get decent rest, and it helps keep the routine easy when school begins again. There’s nothing like throwing a young kids routine out to make your life difficult. Obviously there are times when this can’t be done, so weather it, but get back to “normal” routine as soon as possible afterwards.
4. PLAN PLAY DATES AND OUTINGS
Play dates and outings take the pressure off a little. I know you think I’m crazy cause it’s usually not like that, but I have found that when kids have other kids around to play, they burn up so much energy, they run around, they play together, they interact with people their age and connect with themselves while they’re busy. Especially kids who are used to going to play school/creche. They miss the interaction with other children, and it’s really good for their social skills to learn to interact with other children in their home environment or at their friends home. They have so much fun that bedtime is usually a breeze.
I try and plan at least two or three “outings a week” with or without other moms and kids, cause lets face it, we all need a break from being home all the time. If you’re budget strapped, pick things like park visits, beach visits, even a trip to the local garden center is heaven for little kids. We have a number of great coffee places that have excellent outdoor kids facilities so I plan ahead and go. I still pack their snacks from home to keep it familiar (and to keep costs down). We have a strong “no outings past 16h00” rule in our home cause I have one kid who is “routine driven” and one who is still establishing his routines, so we keep it gentle on the amount of hours we are out of the house just to keep things easy when we get home.
5. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, SMILE AND WAVE
Then you get those times when none of the above can happen because one, or both, children come down with some illness or other and can’t be outside or with other children for fear of infecting other households. This is when the adage “smile and wave” comes in handy. Adjust your plans, break out the Lego and get used to sitting on the floor. This too shall pass and memories can still be made on holiday at home with sick kiddos. Make the most of it and add fun games into the mix that everyone can participate in. I usually buy a tub of ice cream and then we get to have a treat every day we are at home.
Good luck moms! Holiday times are never easy, so I hope these hacks help you keep your sanity a little. I know they’ve helped me so much!