Friday, 14 June 2013

Surviving the school holidays

If the very thought of the school holidays fills you with dread then read on for some survival tips from our psychologists.

  1. 1. Make a plan: what do you need to do to have a great holiday? Try to plan ahead and look at options that allow you to spend time together, but also give the kids a chance to spend time with other kids. Include your kids in the planning stage by asking for their thoughts and integrating them into the family plans. And remember to have some rainy day options up your sleeve!
  2. Create a routine: during the school year, our days are highly structured. The holidays are a good time to loosen these routines and generally slow down, however both you and your kids will benefit from some kind of structure such as set play times and meal times. Spontaneity is great, but without any structure at all, kids can feel a bit lost and bored.
  3. Build up a support network: check with the kids’ school or nursery for a holiday programme. Community centres also sometimes offer activities and events that allow kids to try something new, learn different skills and develop interests outside of their school curriculum.
  4. Family is key: if you’re lucky enough to have family members close by, include them in your holiday preparations for day trips, sleepover, etc. Visiting family members is a great opportunity for kids to bond and have fun with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Your family will appreciate spending time with the kids, too, and it takes the pressure off you as a parent.
  5. Mind your work: most working parents are unable to take time off work for the full duration of the holidays and even with flexible working arrangements, there will be times when you need to knuckle down and work. Make sure these times are part of your joint holiday planning so you don't end up more stressed than you would be during the school year.
  6. ‘No parents allowed’: most children love socialising with their peers and the holidays are a great opportunity to arrange ‘play dates’ with their friends. Speak to other parents and your neighbours about taking turns in hosting the kids. This will allow you to retain some ‘me time’ while giving your kids a chance to develop social skills and enjoy themselves.

Tips based on original comments supplied by psychologists Professor Ewan Gillon, clinical director of First Psychology Scotland, Dr Maria Gascon and Dr Ian Connor