Holidays can be great times for reconnecting with our families and reinvigorating our passion for spending time together; whether we’re heading out of town, spending time with others or just hanging out at home. I particularly love having “jama” days with nothing planned and the biggest questions being which game will we play next or what shall we make for an afternoon snack?

Hanging out in the holidaysToday my girls and I had an appointment in the morning but then we went to the local pool – just a plain old indoor swimming pool, no slides or waves, just water and a $2 per child entry. Four hours and loads of warm, wet, winter fun later we were on our way home. We continued to talk and laugh and share our stories of this somersault and that handstand and of course the infamous game of pool tag with spongy balls, all the way home!

But to be able to make this happen, this prioritising of my girls over other needs and wants of mine, has taken some planning and commitment. Firstly, being self-employed, I’ve blocked out this time in my work schedule to spend with my young girls, popped an out of office auto-response on my emails and day after day (sometimes moment to moment) reminded myself to “let it go” – meaning the work I’d love to be doing but am choosing to delay for this precious two weeks.

Passionate about making everyday moments with my children count, I’ve not scheduled a whole heap of activities for this fortnight, rather letting most days unravel as they will. Of course there are daily jobs around the house to do but turning them into a list to be ticked off, or a rotating roster seems to do the trick: ok, who’s helping me chop the vegies for dinner and who’s folding the washing? Whoever’s left, you’re on clearing the dishwasher. No matter what ages the children are there’s always something they can do to help around the house and if we frame it well it can even seem to them as a treat! I’ve also got a good list in my head (and sometimes I write it down) of all the many things that the girls can do with me or on their own. My youngest has her own photo book I made for her entitled “Fun things to do”, however she hasn’t even needed to use that these holidays.

One day the girls were talking about how the story Red Riding Hood went. Next minute we were dividing up roles and scrounging for costumes in the dress up bags. By the time dad came home we had a practiced, somewhat polished, certainly playful, rendition to perform for him – complete with instrumentals for each character and an encore prepared. What a day of communication, creativity, crying and compassionate cuddles.

Hanging out in the holidays

Booking in play get-togethers with other children can be a great thing to do on some of the days, however I’ve noted it’s not been hugely asked for these holidays. My three have really enjoyed the time they have had to spend together and with me – now that they’re all of school age they don’t get so much opportunity for hanging out with family all day.

Perhaps grandparents also can get involved for special holiday opportunities. When I’m a Grandma I reckon I’d love to be the place that my grandchildren come to each holidays – with or without their parents. Oh the adventures we will have, the creative energy we can unleash… Yes of course I understand it’s not always roses and cream having young children at home all day but, boy, the holiday highs are worth the daily sprinkling of lows.

The other super cool thing about holidays is that the “yes”s seem to flow much more freely. Mum, can we have chocolate pudding for dessert? Yup, grab your apron and let’s make it. Mum, can you play Uno with me? Absolutely, your room or the lounge? Mum can we stay up a bit later so we can ride our bikes in the dark? Sure, just pop a warm hat under your helmet and, wow, check out those stars.

Loving it.

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Sarah Amy Glensor Best moved away from a corporate career a decade ago to become a stay at home Mum. Since then she has been learning alongside her three daughters at Playcentre; become a kaiako/educator for Brainwave Trust Aotearoa; written numerous articles and opinion pieces; published her first book “Changing the World is Child’s Play” and started an education business focussed on children, parenting and play – Children Change. Sarah lives in Wellington with her family.

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