Holidays lives in our imaginations throughout the year because it nourishes our souls. The warmth….the fun…the sheer deliciousness. But mostly, the luxury of time, unbounded by school. Time to explore, to make new friends, to lie on your back and watch the clouds billow. The vivid aliveness and freedom of a child’s holiday can change her forever.
Does this sound like the holiday your child is having? Or is he glued to an electronic screen? Or maybe she just has to get up early for camp, so you can get to work. Or maybe he’s gotten so used to constant stimulation that he’s complaining he’s bored.
You CAN reclaim holiday for your family. In fact, you can make this the best holiday yet with your kids. It doesn’t take travel or a lot of money. And you can do it even if you’re working and your kids are in daycamp. All it takes is your time.
That’s right, your time. I know that sounds like the one thing you don’t have enough of. If you’re anything like most parents, you have a long list of things that need to get done and you feel a little (or a lot!) overwhelmed. But it’s holiday. Your kids won’t be kids forever. This is the stuff their childhood memories are made of… and childhood will end soon enough!
In addition to those lovely experiences that define holiday, children also need lazy holiday afternoons with not much happening. So finding that sweet spot of “just enough” activity without over-scheduling is the goal.
Why not decide now to make the most of this opportunity to connect with your kids? Here are simple tips to make this holiday your best ever with your family.
- Set aside some time every day to have fun with your child.
Whether it’s picking fresh flowers in the early morning or counting the stars on a blanket in the backyard before bedtime, do at least one thing each day to connect and have fun. Remember, what matters is always how it FEELS, not how it LOOKS. Your child thrives from a loving connection with you.
- Find the “sweet spot” for structure.
Research shows that kids get stressed during the school year from academics, homework, the social scene, and all the activities. They really need time to chill and relax. But they also need structure, meaning they need their day and week to have a shape, so they know what to expect. For instance, every morning after we pray, we do errands or pick up the house together for an hour, and after dinner we have reading time together and then quiet time in our rooms. Do anything that works for you.
- Commit to de-stressing and just enjoying your life this holiday.
Kids pick up our attitudes. If you’re stressed, they’ll be stressed, and they’ll fight with each other and drive you crazy. Even if you have to go to work, can you find a way to dial down your stress for the holiday? And if you’re lucky enough to be home with the kids, don’t you deserve a delicious holiday as much as your children do? Your positive attitude will create a relaxed, happy mood in your house.
- Help your kids develop a healthy relationship with time
…one that includes the important life skill of being comfortable with their own company, without technology. Time is, after all, what life is made of!
- Encourage your child to try something new this holiday.
There’s no time like the holiday to dabble, experiment, and play with creativity. Maybe she wants to try painting, or self-defense classes, or horseback riding. Maybe he wants to try writing a short story or learn how to throw a frisbee well. New activities encourage brain development and build your child’s focus, frustration management and impulse control.
- Strictly limit technology to certain times of the day.
When kids are bored and it’s hot/raining outside, screen time has a way of swallowing up all their time. It may be a good babysitter, but we all know that’s not what kids need. The more you limit screen time, the better kids get at finding creative things to do with their time — and the less they bug you to watch TV or play computer games.
- Institute daily reading time.
Books open the imagination, make time disappear, and give kids a wholesome alternative to screens. (Reading is also very highly correlated with school achievement.) Reading to your child develops a love of stories and books, which is what starts them wanting to read on their own.
- Plan some fantastic family memories, even if you don’t have the money or time to head off on vacation.
Don’t wait. The key is to get out a calendar and schedule the things you really want to do.
Start at dinner tonight by asking everyone what they’ve loved most about this holiday so far. Then ask each person to pick one thing for the whole family to do that will make their holiday complete. Set parameters before you start. For instance, no hotel stays, and the total cost of each activity must be under N5000 (or whatever your budget is)
Encourage your family to come up with their ideal scenarios and make a few of them happen. Be sure to toast the family member who chose the activity, and take lots of pictures.
- The last week of the holiday, print out all your holiday photos and make a holiday album.
Have a little family celebration on Worker’s Day (public holiday) where you look at the album together and talk about everybody’s favorite parts of the holiday. Remind each other of the things that seemed like disasters at the time but are now funny (every family has some of those!) If you do this every holiday, you’ll create precious family heirlooms, not to mention a family tradition that will have your kids bragging about how fantastic holiday was in their families!