How to keep the kids hap­pily busy

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - LESEGO MAKGATHO Lesego Makgatho

WITH the school hol­i­days upon us, many par­ents are at their wits’ end as to how to keep their chil­dren con­struc­tively oc­cu­pied.

But ex­perts say there’s no need to worry, given the many ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer. Cre­ative par­ent­ing ex­pert, speaker and au­thor Nikki Bush, says par­ents need to recog­nise that chil­dren need ac­tiv­i­ties and stim­u­la­tion to save them from bore­dom and lone­li­ness.

“Par­ents would then look at hol­i­day camps, en­rolling chil­dren in cour­ses such as cod­ing, crafts and con­struc­tion… You can find all sorts of things for chil­dren to do.

“If you’re go­ing to be home with your chil­dren dur­ing the hol­i­days, make the qual­ity time with your chil­dren count,” says Bush, adding that most work­ing par­ents spend no more than two or three hours with their chil­dren on any given day.

“This is the time we cre­ate rich, warm, fuzzy mem­o­ries, so take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to spend time with your chil­dren and to en­gage with them con­sciously.”

You can hang around to­gether, eat­ing meals and chat­ting, Bush says. Switch off your phone (and theirs). “Be pre­pared with a game. It can be a word game or any­thing, and play around the ta­ble or around the car.”

Bush sug­gests leav­ing gad­gets be­hind when you go to a restau­rant.

“If you’re go­ing to be with your chil­dren, be with them. It’s im­por­tant to do things to­gether.

“Even if it’s colour­ing-in, do it with your chil­dren; al­low them to tell you where they want you to colour-in.”

While food can be dif­fer­ent from one fam­ily to an­other, Bush re­flects on how her mother al­ways makes fudge for Christ­mas, and in­volves her grand­chil­dren in mak­ing it.

“Chil­dren re­mem­ber rit­u­als of how you go on hol­i­day. If you al­ways go to the same place for a hol­i­day, gen­er­ally you’d stop at the same place for break­fast.

“They re­mem­ber things like that. Never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of rit­u­als. Cre­ate thought­ful, fun, doable ac­tiv­i­ties for and with your chil­dren.”

There are also on­line re­sources avail­able such as www.jozikids.co.za for par­ents who feel they have run out of ideas.

The por­tal is an on­line direc­tory for fam­i­lies on ac­tiv­i­ties to en­joy over the fes­tive sea­son.

Jozi Kids owner and di­rec­tor Merle Di­eterich says the on­line in­for­ma­tion ser­vice is a de­tailed cal­en­dar of daily, on­go­ing and hol­i­day events.

“It’s a re­source for peo­ple to find any­thing to do with chil­dren in Gaut­eng. It’s a sup­port for par­ents. We want to be there for par­ents who need help and are look­ing for things.

“Par­ents can also find sup­port ser­vices too, such as cou­ple’s ther­a­pists and fam­ily coun­cil­lors.

“There are over 1 200 or­gan­i­sa­tions that use Jozi Kids to tell peo­ple what they have to of­fer,” says Di­eterich.

The ser­vice, she says, fea­tures a cal­en­dar for over 100 dif­fer­ent types of ac­tiv­i­ties, and it grows daily.

“It in­cludes a mix­ture of pro­grammes for chil­dren, such as cook­ing, drama, arts and crafts, and science.

“Sleep­over hol­i­day camps are also avail­able.

“And for par­ents who want to send their kids away, there is some­thing called hol­i­day care, which of­fers full­day care.

“We also have places to go with the fam­ily.

“If par­ents need their kids to be oc­cu­pied in the first two weeks be­fore they leave work, they can find places to send their kids then and in the last two weeks of the hol­i­days, which tends to be when even in­volved par­ents can run out of ideas or steam and need help,” Di­eterich says.

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