what are we doing today, mum?
One way to keep your child well-entertained during the school holidays is to let her decide and plan her activities, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.
It’s the school holidays, and you know from past experience that hardly an hour is likely to pass without your six-yearold asking: “Mum, what are we doing today?” She just takes each day as it comes, passively waiting for you to do everything for her, whereas you feel she’s old enough to start planning her time and activities.
Get your child to think about her holiday schedule early. Explain that she will have a lot of free time over the next few weeks and that you want to make sure she has an enjoyable time. She is likely to be agreeable – and excited.
Ask her to think about activities she might like during the school holidays. Go through places you have visited that she might like to go again (museums, playgrounds, parks, cycle tracks, and so on) and new ones she has in mind.
Ensure that she doesn’t simply include the most expensive or most complicated activities (for instance, a trip in a helicopter). Facilities in your neighbourhood, such as the pool, park or cinema can be just as much fun.
She can also enjoy herself at home with activities like art, games and puzzles. Together, you can come up with a long list of ways to keep her amused during the holidays.
Let her choose
Once you have agreed on the activities, divide them into categories like “Home”, “Indoors” and “Outdoors”.
After that, sub-divide these activities into “Free”, “Cheap”, or “Expensive”. Now ask your child to choose two or three from each. Alternatively, she can pick more from “Home” and only one from “Outdoors”.
What matters is that you both identify a range of activities that is achievable, realistic and enjoyable.
Create a timeline on her wall, with a space under each day during the school break. Sit with her and fill in each space with one or two of the chosen activities from your list.
Let her make some decisions, but prepare to guide her if, for example, she includes all the expensive outdoor activities on the first day. She may take a day or two to do this. Write all entries in pencil until both of you are satisfied with the plan.
Each evening, as she goes to bed, encourage her to look at the plan for the next day and the week ahead. Suggest that she thinks about the clothes she will need to wear for each activity, snacks she might want to bring, transport options (if it’s not at home), and equipment or toys.
Such involvement gives her some ownership of her schedule and sets her thinking and planning ahead. She doesn’t do everything by herself, but she has some responsibility.
Not only will it stop incessant questions, but she’ll also develop more enthusiasm for the plan since she was involved in its creation. And once she sees that planning works for this holiday, the next one will become easier.
Involving her in planning gives her some ownership of her schedule and will get her thinking ahead.