Beating the holiday blues
Some tips and tricks for keeping your kids entertained during the winter holidays.
(Jade Photography)
I’m sure we can all relate to going on holiday and coming back exhausted, especially the parents. You end up spending so much time stressing about the arrangements, logistics and the kids that you are absolutely pooped by the time you get back. Well that’s no fun at all.

Holidays are a very important aspect of living and enjoying a good healthy lifestyle. For children it’s vitally important to experience that “trip away” whether it is to the coast or even just to another city. Just think back to your own special childhood memories of your time on holiday

However, the reality for many parents is that, especially during these mid-year holidays, they can’t get off from work. As a result their kids end up in the school’s holiday care programme or if they have teens, the teens end up spending hours alone at home.

It’s a fact of life and nothing to be overly stressed about, however, you have to do something to make at least some of the time during these holidays special.

If you can’t take the time off, try to at least take a day or two off and do something extra special, even if It’s as simple as giving them their first train ride, or first visit to the museum, first picnic, first roller coaster ride, first anything exciting and memorable. You at least want your kid to associate their holiday with something new and exciting.

The point is you don’t have to feel guilty about not spending loads of cash on a stressful holiday. Life is made up of memorable moments and the best thing you can do for your kids is to give them at least one great memory every holiday which includes you.

There are tons of things to do, and each city has a list of activities for kids and parents to engage in, all it takes is a Google search.

Dad’s role

In most conventional family set-ups, mom usually plays the role of the disciplinarian, the cleaner, the feeder and the protector. I came across a few studies online recently while researching a new column which suggests that Dad’s role should be the fun provider.

And again, it does not have to cost a fortune or involve massive planning and logistics.

Spending the night in sleeping bags under a home-made tent in the garden (in summer), hosting a fun cooking contest (involving viennas, cheese, marshmallows, and cucumbers), feeding the ducks at the dam, having egg and spoon or sack races etc. All of these activities are low cost but high impact interaction activities and goes a very long way to strengthen your bonds.

What about teens?

If you have teens it can be trickier. They don’t want you around all the time, but they do want you to be there when they need you. Obviously you have to, as the parent, insist on quality time even if they kick and scream against it. But remember to always make it fun. Sooner or later they will need you to take them somewhere or to pay for movies with friends or something.

So use it to your advantage, for example, you agree to pay for the next movie if they go bowling with you. Bribery or incentivising is absolutely allowed in the parenting game. Plan or experience a new activity together, like hiking, horse-riding, pottery, gardening, archery, I don’t know… whatever you both find interesting.

What I’ve discovered with my teen is that communication is vital. And it doesn’t have to be long-winded and serious. All you need to do is be able to chat and show interest in what they’re doing. Ask about their friends, their lifestyles, their parents. Ask about the movie, their interpretation of it, the book or magazine they’re reading, the clothes they’re wearing. What you’re doing is cementing that bond and creating the opportunity for them to approach you when the time comes that they need serious advice about a teen related issue, like sex or drugs.

If you already have this kind of relationship, it probably evolved naturally from when they were kids, however, most of us “give up” when they hit their teen years and we allow them to become reclusive and sullen. Don’t let it happen! And if it has, take action now and insist that they spend quality time with you, at least once a week.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

Do you have any suggestions for keeping your kids entertained during the school holidays?

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