Planning for school holidays can make them smoother.Â We have useful tips for planning school holiday breaks including activity ideas and budget tips.
School holidays mean different things to different people. For some itâ€™s a chance to have a break from school routine and enjoy quality time with their children, and for others itâ€™s a manic few weeks of juggling work commitments with holiday care and pangs of guilt. Love them or hate them, school holidays roll around every couple of months and itâ€™s a good idea to be prepared. Here are some useful tips for planning the next school holiday break.
School holidays have a habit of sneaking up on you, and if youâ€™re not prepared they can become a real headache. School holiday programmes start booking up about 3 weeks before the end of term, so if you need holiday care for your child, make sure you think ahead. If you use the same programme every break, ask them to phone you when their roll opens. That way you know your childâ€™s space is secure.
Flights and accommodation also get busy around school holiday time, so it pays to book early if you want to have some choice. While leaving bookings to the last minute can often get you cheaper deals, being stranded with 3 children and nowhere to stay isnâ€™t that much fun.
Know Your Budget
Nothing sucks the fun out of holidays like financial stress, so make sure you know your budget, and be prepared to stick to it.
If your child needs holiday care, investigate your options carefully. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for an OSCAR subsidy through Work and Income, but only for affiliated programmes so make sure you check it out. If you have more than one child, it may be cheaper to hire a caregiver who can look after your children in your own home, or see if you can trade babysitting days with a friend. Many parents who work part-time are happy to look after other children on their days off, provided someone will look after their children when itâ€™s their day to work.
If youâ€™re planning activities to do with your child, donâ€™t think the days have to be jam-packed with expensive outings or trips away. There are plenty of fun things you can do at home, and there are some great places to visit which wonâ€™t cost a cent.
Time and Energy
I know school holidays are supposed to be fun, but they are also meant to provide children with an opportunity to rest and relax. Doing one hundred and one things may seem like a fun idea at first, but eventually everyone will get tired and grumpy â€“ you included. Balance big days out with lazy days blobbing at home, and donâ€™t feel like you HAVE to have every child in the neighbourhood around to play.
If your child has to attend full-time holiday care, check that the programme includes some down time. If it appears to be full-on everyday, make sure your weekends are relaxed and give your child plenty of time to sleep in and be lazy. Children need time between school terms to recharge their energy levels, so an all-day-pyjama-fest wouldnâ€™t be such a bad thing.
Research has proven that children donâ€™t necessarily remember the most extravagant activities, but instead the small things that happen routinely as they grow up. For me it was visiting our cousinâ€™s farm every holiday, and for my children itâ€™s the routine sleepover with homemade pizza and stretchers in the lounge.
Your family tradition can be as simple or as extravagant as you like, but it is in knowing that it will happen, that makes it special for your child. Maybe itâ€™s a trip to the movies with an ice cream from the same place every time, or perhaps itâ€™s a routine trip to Gran’s place. Whatever it is, holiday traditions make memories for life.
Unless youâ€™re willing to visit Disneyland three times a year, I donâ€™t recommend giving your child open control of the holidays. However planning the holidays together can be fun, and it saves a lot of unnecessary disagreements once the holidays actually start.
If your child has to go into a holiday programme, try to provide them with two or three different options. Older children especially will have specific likes and dislikes, or they may want to attend the same holiday programme as a friend. If they have helped to make the decision, you are less likely to be greeted with â€˜I donâ€™t want to goâ€™ on the first Monday of the break.
If you are lucky enough to be at home with your children during the holidays, you can have lots of fun researching activities and events to attend. As the parent, you could provide your child with two or three overarching ideas, and then let them decide on the details. For example you may offer one trip to the movies, a day trip out of town, and one night for a friend to sleep over. Your child can then choose which movie to see, which town to visit, and who they would like to have spend the night.
Some families have a holiday calender where they can write and plan activities together. If youâ€™re a parent who splits school holidays between a little work and a little down-time, then using this calender to plan ahead will help you make the most of every day.
Above all else, try not to panic. The holidays will be over soon enough, and then youâ€™ll have all the school term activities to organise again â€¦â€¦and you thought the holidays were bad!?