School holidays are here! – Oh *(&*%!

school holidays, kids playing

I never rarely swear. So you have to take my title here literally. The length of time it takes to say ‘asterisk, bracket, ampersand, asterisk, percent‘, I would have to be really stressed. School holidays will do it. Every time.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Between myself and my wife, we are self-employed. To some extent we can schedule our work around caring for our 6 year old daughter. So there are relatively few times when we can’t manage to care for her at all.

We don’t have to feel guilty about foisting her off on some activity center. We don’t have to tell her she’s going to learn tennis whether she likes it or not, and we don’t need to worry about whether she is being properly cared for in a system where there is a financial incentive to provide minimal care for the maximum number of children.

What we do have to do, is spend the time with her wherever we can and do things that create memories. We have to avoid going half mad at the relentlessness of keeping a 6 year old entertained, fed, exercised and stimulated without resorting too much to the temptation of wiring her up to a technological device.

Everybody’s school holiday strategy is different. Everybody’s outcome is different. There are people out there, who love the holidays, and don’t want them to end. These are the lucky ones. For the rest of us, it can be anywhere from ‘love/hate’ to just plain ‘hate’.

Which would you rather be? Ask yourself that.

Throttle back and let them take more control of their school holidays

I think where most would agree, it would be good to think that our kids loved their holidays.

For the most part they probably do. They may tell you they’re bored, but they spend a great deal of time forgetting that they said it and filling their time creatively and imaginatively and hopefully not too destructively.

Think back, if you can, to your own memories of school holidays. What do you remember most about them? Do you remember the times when you were bored and irritable, or do you remember the times you played with your friends, or went for walks with your parents? Do you remember what you loved to do then? Maybe you even secretly quite like doing those same things now.

If you’re like me you’ll remember the holiday trips away, of course, and you’ll remember the simple pleasures of playing in the woods, or the garden. You might recall the favoured toys, the friend next door, and the rides on your bike. Possibly you will recall stuff you did with your parents too.

I wonder if we expect too much of ourselves as parents in the school holidays. I wonder if it really is so essential to be the holiday rep for our little loved ones? Perhaps we should just be the watcher in the wings, getting the occasional glimpse of their moments of pleasure, a gentle push here and there. Turning a deaf ear to the complaint ‘I’m bored’ may be one of the most powerful things we can do to kick start a child’s imagination.

Why not take a leaf out of my book and simplify your punctuation and asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, your school holidays!

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.