Sum­mer a time

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - RE­BECCA BAKER

FOR kids it’s a glo­ri­ous six weeks of do­ing pretty much noth­ing — there is no home­work, no wak­ing up to get to school on time, no “early to bed” mut­ter­ings from Mum or Dad.

The Christ­mas hol­i­days hail an end to week­day rou­tines, re­placed in­stead with lazy days in the sun, pool fun, catch-ups with friends and a re­lax­ing of screen time rules.

Bril­liant if you’re a kid, not so much if you’re a par­ent — work­ing or not — with the task of main­tain­ing some kind of house­hold order amid your young­sters’ weeks-long chill­out. It can be par­tic­u­larly try­ing for par­ents of teenagers, or those on the cusp of ado­les­cence, who have out­grown hol­i­day care and con­sec­u­tive days at the grand­par­ents, if you’re lucky enough to have fam­ily liv­ing close by.

The Sun­day Her­ald Sun has spo­ken to par­ent­ing ex­perts and child psy- chol­o­gists for tips to help your fam­ily sur­vive the hol­i­days with san­ity in­tact, so ev­ery­one is happy and well­rested be­fore the new school year.

Psy­chol­o­gist at OK Psy­chol­ogy, Si­mon An­drews, says es­tab­lish­ing clear, hol­i­day-spe­cific rules and ex­pec­ta­tions early is the key, in­clud­ing what time kids are ex­pected to go to bed and how long they can sleep in.

“(It’s not about set­ting hol­i­days up as a) rigid mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion … but the pos­i­tives of hav­ing a struc­ture to fol­low means that ev­ery­one knows what is ex­pected from the start, in­clud­ing what needs to get done around the house to keep it run­ning,” he says.

“(For teenagers), the prob­lem of not do­ing this cre­ates an ex­pec­ta­tion that noth­ing is ex­pected to be done for six weeks, that you can just kick back and do what you like.”

He says a con­ver­sa­tion in the first day or two of the hol­i­days can avoid frus­tra­tion later on. “You’ve got to find the bal­ance be­tween al­low­ing kids time off and do­ing some of the things that are needed to keep the house­hold run­ning … (but) it’s not just par­ents dic­tat­ing what will hap­pen, kids have to have a say, too.”

Mr An­drews says an old-fash­ioned fam­ily plan­ner can be help­ful.

“We have one that lives on the din­ing room ta­ble show­ing ev­ery day of the school hol­i­days and ev­ery­one can write what they are do­ing on a cer­tain day. If there is a job that needs to be done you can plan ahead for that, if there is a hol­i­day in there, you can

need love, so stay close to your kids. They want us and need us to be in­volved in their lives, even if they act like they don’t. Cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, such as fam­ily meal­times or driv­ing to school, train­ing, work, or other ac­tiv­i­ties.

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