How to have stress free holidays, are they a myth or can they be a reality? Holiday time seems to fall into the marmite type of argument, people either love having their kids at home or hate it!
In some respects it can be easier, no rushing around to get out the door first thing in the morning but then it can also be harder with the break up of routine and the kids needing to be “entertained”… or do they?
5 steps to enjoy stress free holidays with the kids
ONE – Keep some kind of routine
Keep to your usual routine as much as possible. For adults, it is easy for us to eat an hour later than usual or handle not getting the usual amount of sleep but for most kids, this really throws them through a loop. So, whenever possible stick to your usual routine.
Eat at the usual time and make sure the kids are getting enough sleep, there is nothing worse than an over-tired, hungry child.
This doesn’t have to be set in stone and of course, there will be days when you stay up late or eat at a different time due to circumstances and that is fine but to help your kids overall, having a routine in place will make life easier for everyone.
Keeping a routine also helps when the kids go back to school, it’s not such a shock to the system.
TWO – Set expectations from the get-go
All moms know that a holiday for the kids is not a holiday for mom, in fact, it’s usually more work. We are a big believer in our home that everyone is expected to pitch in. That means kids too, unless your child is not yet walking, they can be helping around the home. (There is a printable available in the free resource library to help you pick the right job for the kids)
Make it crystal clear that they are on holiday from school, not life and that they still have jobs to do. Having a checklist (or use a personalized Montessori Daily Routine Cards) and encouraging them to do it at the start of the day, to get things out of the way is also a great productivity lesson for them.
Also, add in any rules here that will go for the duration of the holiday. That could be around the amount of screen time or whether they need to spend X amount of time outside etc. If you want to limit kids’ screen time, try this one golden rule.
What your budget is so that they understand they say, ice cream from the ice cream truck is a weekly treat, not a daily one. Or whatever expectation you need to have in place.
Just be sure everyone is on the same page. This will cut down on the whining and complaining, whenever a situation comes up you can simply refer them back to this conversation.
Three – Planning ahead helps reduce stress
Whether it’s an afternoon at the park or a week trip to Disneyland, if you have some kind of plan in place it makes things run more smoothly.
We are all wired differently, my go-to for keeping the chaos at bay is checklists on Google Keep. The reason I prefer Keep to a notebook is that I can add things to it more easily as something pops into my head. Because, like most people, my phone is rarely more than a metre away from my hand!
Kids typically have NO idea what it takes to plan something. So have them do it. Start with something low key, like a trip to the park. Get THEM to figure out what is needed, drinks, sunscreen, hats, toys etc.
When they have mastered that, get them to plan something a bit more adventurous. If they can use the internet they can research places to go, the cost of travel and entrance tickets. What budget they will need to feed everyone for the day. What you will need to take with you.
This is brilliant for so many reasons.
Firstly and foremost – it will keep them busy so you can get on and deal with whatever you need to do (that could even mean a cheeky G&T in the garden as you top up your tan!).
They will learn about money and budgeting.
They will learn about planning and thinking ahead.
And then you will all get to reap the rewards of their hard work.
And when something goes wrong. Inevitably we know something will, they then get to learn how to deal with the situation.
And finally, when they have had to do it themselves and they understand the amount of time, effort and work that goes into all this (that us moms make look so easy!) they start to appreciate the things we organize for them a bit more!
Four – Let them get bored
These days there is such a high amount of pressure to have Pinterest worth activities ready to go 24/7. Then add in the club activities and everything else served on a plate, and kids just don’t have time to get bored.
Yet getting bored is one of the more creative and inspiring things you can do, it is a great gift. It allows us to let our minds wander and follow our curiosity.
Five – Invitations to learn
One way to create that balance between boredom and curiosity is to set up some trays with interesting activities on them. BUT with no pressure for the child to engage with it. Some ideas…
- A tinker box – just of box of recycling and craft supplies to create their own thing with
- A sensory play box or any of the sensory activities from this page that don’t need much supervision
- A craft project
- A new book or toy
- An activity from one of the 193 Little Adventures packs
- A puzzle
- Scavenger hunt
- A treasure hunt
- A recipe (with ingredients at the ready)
- A challenge
By having a few activities like this available it gives the child the choice to engage and when and it also relieves the pressure of having to do it right now. It takes the “mom guilt” away because you are obviously a great mom having provided things for them to do. But you are also giving them time and space to do it at their own pace if they choose to do so.
Kids get very little opportunity to choose what they want to do and when so setting up activities in this way is a great way to give them personal freedoms.
You need a break too!
It is OK to slow down, to keep things simple, to take the easy route.
One of the things I loved as a kid was when my friends would come around to play. There would be kids everywhere, I have 2 younger brothers. So there would usually be us three and then on average another 4 to 6 kids, plus my cousins sometimes too.
My mom would make a huge pile of sandwiches, we’d get a bag of crisps and an apple each then we’d get to eat outside, in the garden WITH NO ADULTS!
Oh my, it was the best! We didn’t even use plates!
We’d fill our boots and then get on with the serious business of playing.
As an adult, I now know why my mom was more than OK with this plan. Zero washing up, kids out of the house and she’d get to sit and have a nice coffee/lunch with her friends.
I’m sure the moms did pop out on occasion to keep an eye on us but we didn’t really notice.
So don’t think that you need to fill every minute of the day. The kids are fine with free time and it takes the pressure off you too.