Anne Goldsmith (Parenting & Behaviour Specialist #TeamADL)
With the school holidays not far away, you might be thinking what will I do with my children during the holidays? How do I keep them occupied? How do I distract them from wanting to play on their XBOX or PlayStation all day and every day? In this thought-piece, I share 5 top tips to extend your thinking and help plan a more productive leisure time.
It’s often easier to find activities to do with younger children, although I am sure you have realised, that this becomes more difficult as your children head towards their teenage years. I have two teenagers myself – a 15 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. When I do find things to do with them, I am mindful that their idea of fun differs from mine and my choices may not be something that interests them.
Top tip #1 Whatever you decide, ensure there is a balance. Like meal nights, it’s about ensuring everyone has their choice considered, at some point. Planning together is great fun, and children often become quite creative in presenting the plan for the holiday period, knowing they have had a say in the planning and their favourite activity is included. Look online at activities and events on in your local area.
Obviously, there are places to go, such as the cinema, VR Rooms, trampoline parks, which are great and children often enjoy these too. Going for family walks and bike rides can be lots of fun and involves fresh air and exercise. Again, taking this further could be stopping at the local park. This was something I did quite a lot in the summer holidays with my teenagers. We would go for a bike ride, stop at the park and then cycle onto somewhere local for breakfast/lunch and then cycle back home again. This also makes the fact they want to play on electronic devices for a couple of hours more acceptable, as they have had some fresh air and exercise for the day. Baking with your children is another fun activity to do together. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, it’s a great way to bond and of course you can make some yummy treats too. This is one of my daughter’s favourite things to do with me during the holidays. A top tip from my daughter, is to be flexible with the recipe and give your child the chance to improvise with a recipe, instead of you taking over!
Spend time talking to your child about their favourite XBOX/PlayStation game or their favourite group/music. If you’re feeling brave, you could take it one step further and spend some time playing with your child on the PlayStation/XBOX or listening to your child’s music and sharing with them, your music or outfit from ‘back in the day.’
It’s important to let your guard down with your children and have some fun too 😉
Top tip #2 It’s a holiday from school, so whilst being active, it’s also important to make time to rest, just chill out and do their own thing. Whatever that means for them. This might be staying in their room, reading a book, having a lie in until lunch time, meeting up with their friends, watching TV and yes – I know – playing on their XBOX or PlayStation! A tip from my 13 year old daughter here, is to leave them alone – unless the house is on fire! This is their time to recharge their batteries and take time out from the routine. The tail end of the holiday, it’s always good to start preparing them for structure, routine and early morning starts.
Top tip #3: Invest in quality time for connection. Spend some time with your children bonding and deepening relationships. If you have more than one child, I would recommend giving each child some quality one to one time with you and/or your partner. It doesn’t have to be for hours, or anything expensive or adventurous. Sometimes just playing a game of cards together, board games, watching a movie (of everyone’s choice) with a favourite treat food or just popping to a local coffee shop for a catch up, is effective. These ideas work for younger children and teenagers. It shows them that you are willing to take time to stop and think about what they would like to do. I have these times with my own teenagers and they are ‘mobile free’ times for them and for me!
Top tip #4: If the holiday is followed by school assessments and your child needs to revise during the break, help them to find that balance and to be organised. Give your child the chance to organise themselves too and try not to be too overbearing and ‘force’ them to revise. A great technique to motivate children to complete their homework or revision, is to sit and do your own work alongside them. They appreciate the company and feel happier doing it, as you are doing something too.
Top tip #5: As well as activities and things to do, plan sit down meals with your children and your family. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the day and gauge how they’re feeling. This is a great way to connect and re-connect with each other. It’s often a time when your children are quite open, chatty and responsive. You can learn so much about your children at these times.
I’d be interested to know how you build connections with your children during the holidays. Do share your thoughts, ideas and experiences.
One final thought, no one wants to hear the constant moans of “I’m bored!” However, I believe it’s good for children to feel bored at times. It encourages them to use their imagination and often results in them doing something creative, practical or active.
About Anne Goldsmith
As a member of #TeamADL, Anne, our Parenting and Behaviour Specialist is supporting and providing behaviour management guidance / training for children, young people and their families, as well as educators. To find out more visit: https://www.anitadevi.com/team-adl.php