Do you love school holidays?

Mothers of school-aged children have so many responses to this simple question!
Anita, one of my friends, a relaxed pre-school mother told me, “I can’t wait for school holidays! It means we can sleep-in. Take our mornings slowly. Eat when we feel like it, and chill out together.”

And on the other end of the scale Julie, a working mother, is much more bold saying, “School holidays are such a pain! I have to think about what the kids will do while I’m at work, and then at home every time I turn around they are there. There’s so much to do, and I can’t get a thing done! I’m, looking forward to term time, so we can get back to normal!”

Routine Changes

We all respond differently to a change in routine.

As a relational type person, Anita loves the break from the daily grind. Julie is much more “tasky” and hates her routine to be upset.

These two personality types – relational and tasky – are not talked about much. But there’s a lot to become aware of if you know about them. Read THIS BLOG about relationship preferences to find out more about relational versus tasky types.

There’s a balance to be achieved with adjusting to holiday mode. As usual, we mothers must consider not just our own needs, but the needs of our children – plus the greater over-arching needs of the family in the broader perspective of the year.

I made a slip-up about school holidays – and someone saw!

When my children were busily going through their primary school years, a friend caught me near the end of one school holiday time saying, “I can’t wait for the kids to go back to school!”

She made a short comment in response, and only then did I realise my attitude was not very helpful. It was easy for my children to misinterpret these words, “I really want you to go back to school”, as “I don’t want to be with you.” But nothing was further from the truth!

I realised, for the first time, that those short weeks when my children were home 24-7, were never-to-be-repeated weeks of family living. For them it was a haven away from the stresses and demands of school.

I began to ask a helpful question: What was I doing to make sure the holidays were great weeks, not just for them, but for me as well?  This was a blessed space – having them around for full days in a row was a time I could have more personal impact on them. In the end, my attitude could make or break the holidays. For all of us.

So, what to do?

I saw my response to holiday time could be varied: Pushing through like a control freak, or even hating the interruption to my routine. On the other hand, maybe I could love it, or at least manage to relax for my children. Would those weeks become valuable memories, or just lost in the everyday muddle of growing up?

I decided I wanted to get better at enjoying school holidays. I wanted to make days away from the school routine rewarding, not just for me, not just for the kids, but for all of us. But how could I look after them, AND look after me?

Some major changes were due!

1. I made an immediate attitude shift about school holidays

Straight away I chose to not see holidays as a waste of my time, but decided to look forward to them with expectation. Holidays are not a waste at all. If I am anxious, it rubs off on the kids. On the other hand, if I’m excited and see school holidays as an exciting opportunity, then guess what? The kids are much more likely to have a great school break.

2. I relaxed my expectations

I also decided to relax about my own agendas and expectations. For me, holidays meant getting my own things done. But not anymore.  Yes, yes, I admit it, I am one of those “tasky” people! But when I gave myself permission NOT to get stuff done, it made my life much easier. If I had to do things, I tried to schedule them into my days in ways which didn’t affect the children quite so much. Thankfully, I had flexible work hours and as they got older, I began getting up very early, and doing the bulk of my work before about 10 or 11am, while they slept in.

3. We made some plans

With SB, I began to plan for holidays in the context of the larger year. Our family budget could extend to a holiday away from home every couple of years. So how could we have a good time when we stayed at home? And how did the seasons affect what we might do? How often should we go and stay with grandparents or other family members. And how much is too much?

4. A trip down memory lane

I thought back to what my family did when I was growing up, because I’ve got some special holiday memories. While I never want to copy my childhood – that would never work – I did recall some of the highlights, and thought about what my parents did to make holidays special times. I took time ti learn from my past.

5. I remembered the important things

I discovered the most important thing about a break from school is the moment to re-connect as a family. Almost always, as the school holidays approached, everyone got more tired and crabby. It was easy for siblings to annoy each other. In the holidays, I loved providing a stress-free space where they could wind down and enjoy each other’s company again. (Actually, I still like doing that even now they are all adults!) By the end of the holidays the laughter was back, they could care for one another, “see” one another, and have fun.

There are quite a few things I got the hang of after that new understanding. To start with: Boredom is good! So don’t feel as though you need to plan every minute of every day. Here is a great article which says, amongst other things, “It’s actually more constructive to see boredom as an opportunity rather than a deficit.”

“Children need to sit in their own boredom long enough for the world to become quiet enough so that they can hear themselves” Dr Vanessa Lapointe

Remember to give some space for going slow.

What do you like (or hate) about school holidays? I’d love to have your responses in the Comments box below!

Download my PDF: 100 Ideas for the School Holidays