On school holidays, kids may find the lack of playmates and school activities hard to handle if they’re used to having all their time occupied.
While computers and electronic gadgets can easily take up days on end and eliminate the dreaded “I’m bored”, not everyone has access to the latest games. In any case, being glued to a screen all day and half the night is not recommended for kids’ physical and mental health.
So what should a parent do if kids are sighing loudly, rolling their eyes and complaining about having nothing to do?
Firstly, recognise that there’s a fine line between keeping kids out of mischief by making sure they have interesting things to occupy them, and on the other hand unwittingly casting yourself in the role of Chief Entertainer.
One really useful thing to do at the beginning of the holidays is to generate a list. I’d recommend it has at least 20 things on it, at least half of which don’t cost anything. You can use Google to search for free craft, cooking, home science activities and the like for ideas, as well as asking your kids to contribute. Things like sorting through the family photos, or even jobs like washing the car or cleaning mirrors can be some kids’ idea of fun! Then you put the list on the fridge and if you hear the words “I’m bored”, you direct them to the list. And of course, if they can’t find something they like, you choose something for them – or give them a chore instead. (This often works wonders and makes boredom disappear like magic!)
You’re trying to give kids the message that if they’re bored, they should find something to do, rather than automatically expecting mum or dad to take them shopping, to a theme park or the movies or on some other expensive outing every day.
The idea is that you provide kids with a stimulating environment – books, art and craft basics and such – and perhaps help them to get started on an activity if they need help, but also allow them to learn to amuse themselves and develop self-sufficiency.
Being able to enjoy your own company is a life skill that can help kids avoid unhealthy friendships and relationships when they’re older, too, because they’re not bound to the idea that being with someone — anyone — is better than being alone.
Having said all that, holidays can also be a great opportunity for family connectedness and doing things together. For busy parents, it may be worth making time to plan some ways for the whole family to reconnect.
Have fun and enjoy your holidays!