Summer a time
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.