As much as I hate school holidays myself as a homeschooler (all the cool places we frequent are now super busy!), I’m also happy for all the free kids running around. Stress free, enjoying their holidays, choosing how to spend their own time. Imagine my dismay then whenever another article pops up in my newsfeed titled something like ‘school holiday survival’ or ‘summertime chore charts and rules’. What now? Really? So far these are some of the suggestions I have read…
- Set screen time limits. They can’t just sit around all day doing nothing on their holidays you know!
- Lists of things they must complete before they get screen time. Including reading a book, playing outside, writing a story, colouring in, imaginary play. There’s no play like forced play people!
- ‘Boredom jars’ filled with chores and things that kids don’t want to do that they must pick whenever they say ‘I’m bored’. Apparently saying you’re bored is something to punish now? After very effectively teaching them to spend their time doing what other people say, we’re now going to punish them for having trouble entertaining themselves.
- Strict waking and sleeping times.
- Chore charts (because you don’t want those slackers getting away with anything on the holidays. Get a chart happening STAT!)
- Set meal times so they don’t just eat whatever they want, whenever they want. You know, like adults can.
Take a deep breath with me before my head explodes.
It is bad enough that they spend the majority of their time during the year living according to other people’s schedules. Waking, eating, sleeping, pooping, playing, standing, sitting when they are told. Thinking, listening to, reading, writing, learning what other people think is important for them. Even out of school hours there’s homework, sports practice, etc. Very little precious time is their own. Even though we know that’s what kids need to thrive. They are constantly being pulled in the opposite direction from what their instincts tell them they should be doing. By the end of the year they are understandably exhausted. And then holidays. But wait, tricked you, you’re still on someone else’s schedule kids! Sit down while I read you the rules.
The holidays have only just started here but in a couple more weeks the complaints will start. ‘I can’t wait for school to go back’, ‘My kids are being such brats!’, ‘They’re constantly misbehaving!’, ‘They don’t listen to me!’. Could these two things be linked? If I put myself in the kids shoes I’d be pretty damn resistant and grumpy too.
Kids are screaming out for a break! I know all the rules come from a place of wanting to have a trouble free holiday period. Wanting everyone to get along. Wanting kids to listen. But doing it this way is misguided. Rules, punishments, bribes, they’re all just reinforcing an ‘us vs them’ situation. That’s not conductive to enjoying this precious window of time together.
I don’t have kids in school, thankfully. We home educate so that they can take ownership over all of their time. But if I did, this would be my holiday survival guide…
- Firstly, stop thinking of it as ‘survival’. You get to spend all this time with your kids! Your kids are awesome people!
- Ditch the schedules. Does it really matter if they want to sleep til noon? Who cares? Let them if that’s how they want to spend their time!
- Let them eat when they’re hungry. That’s how you learn to listen to your body and develop good eating habits. If you don’t want them to eat unhealthy food then don’t have it in the house.
- Ditch bedtime. Who cares.
- Forget punishments, rewards, and bribes. Find out what’s really going on instead.
- Don’t be a dictator. Instead ask for help, negotiate, open up a dialogue, come to an agreement on household chores.
- Value however they choose to spend their time. If the worst thing that happens is they lie around watching TV all day is that so bad? Do they have to be constantly doing something that others deem worthwhile?
- If you want them to get outside and do things then get outside and do things with them. Take them on some adventures.
- Have FUN! Wake up with a smile. Talk. Laugh. Enjoy each others company. Life is way too short to spend it fighting. Childhood is even shorter. The amount of time they aren’t in school is even shorter than that.
Give the kids a break this holidays. That’s what holidays are supposed to be for.