How To Structure Your Day During The School Holidays
Have you noticed that as soon as the holidays hit, kids go from eating structured meals to just being constantly hungry – all the time? Despite the hit to your pocket and the pantry supplies, it can be mentally draining to feel like you constantly need to entertain kids.
They’re hungry, they’re bored. They want to know what the time is every 5 minutes so they can tell you that ‘at this time at school they’d be in library,’ or assembly, or sport. And they want to do everything.
So don’t be surprised if at 4pm when you’re starting to wind down for the evening routine, one child will suddenly decide they really want to go to the zoo – like now.
Most times, this happens because the children are lacking structure. Because as exciting as it is at the thought of having 2 to 3 weeks without school uniforms, packed lunches and school traffic – children actually respond seriously well to routine.
So whether you’ve got multiple mixed ages and need to accommodate nap times, or whether you’ve got active, excited kids – one of the most important things during the school holidays is to maintain structure.
With the July school holidays here, we thought we’d share some tips on how to keep your day running smoothly. Here’s how to structure your day during the school holidays.
7 Guidelines To Structure Your Day During The School Holidays
Have A Plan
Think about your plan for the school holidays ahead of schedule. Discuss with your nanny family and find out if holiday camps are on the cards, when the family day trips are happening, and when the in-laws are descending on your doorstep. Most importantly – make sure you’re all on the same page.
Do Your Research
Find out what’s on for kids, when, and where. Make a list of things that might interest and appeal to the kids. And know which ones are free, paid, require pre-booking, and age appropriate.
Create A Schedule
Bonus if you create a schedule that the older children can be part of the planning process and show an interest in. Map out the days and weeks, block off any pre-planned events, holidays and appointments.
>>> Tip: have the children tick off the activities as you do them. Break the day into segments to mimic a school day. That way you won’t have them asking what time it is every 5 minutes. Even better, stave off the school holiday learning slump by incorporating it as an educational activity and help the children with learning to tell the time!
Nap time and quiet time is sacred. Protect it. You can let it go for 1 or 2 days here or there, but not all holiday long.
Plan For Lazy Days
It’s really important that you don’t burn out too quickly – and that goes for the kids too! Plan for the lazy days and allow you and the kids to have quieter days around the house, lazy mornings and casual afternoons at the local playground.
Remember that weekends are usually busy days with lots of rushing to and from appointments and activities as parents spend more time with their children and family. So Mondays and Fridays are good quiet, slower-paced days to buffer the weekend life.
Make sure you allow for naps and down time, because whether you’ve got little ones or big ones, you always need time to slow down.
>>> Tip: stock up on board games, movies, library books, kid friendly recipes (like these easy Banana Muffins), crafts, and other creative activities. You don’t need to make every day a massive outing (this will help stretch the holiday funds kitty too).
Book Those Playdates!
If for your own sanity as much as the children’s fun, embrace the humble play date. You could offload one child to free you up to spend some quality time with the other child. Or offload all of them to give you an hour or two quiet time to have a cup of tea and prepare dinner in peace.
Even better – arrange a playdate where you can enjoy a nice conversation with the other parent / nanny / carer as well. Play dates can be as much for your benefit as the kids.
>>> Tip: don’t forget your manners. It’s always polite to bring a snack or a small gift as a gesture of thanks and appreciation when going on playdates.
Maintain Your Boundaries
You’re not the street babysitter. If parents are going to drop their kids off for an all day play date (repeatedly), then invoice or handle accordingly.
If you simply can’t make it to the dry cleaners with 3+ kids in the car, a sleeping baby and the rain – say so. State your reason, proffer an alternate solution, and move on. Don’t shoulder more stress or expectation than you need to.
Just because you might spend more time at home, don’t fall into the trap of blending your duties with the cleaner’s or housekeeper’s duties. That being said – the more time you spend at home, the more mess you and the kids will make, so it’s natural to need to do a little bit more, and more frequently.
Know The Budget
Manage your holiday expense budget and be transparent with the family about the expenditure. If outings are coming out of your pocket, and you received the go ahead to participate, ensure you’re properly compensated and reimbursed.
Most importantly, during the school holidays, good 2-way communication is key – keep an open dialogue at all times.
Communicate expectations, performance, daily happenings, and emotions – both as the parent with the nanny, and the nanny with the parent.
Fact is – holidays can be tiring on the nanny – there’s extra kids, more activities, tired children, and seasonal weather. So there’s a good chance these changes can cause emotions to run high at times, and feelings to be more sensitive.
It’s important to communicate during this period now so more than ever. Negotiate your hours, arrange for a half hour early mark here and there, or a day in lieu if a parent is taking an extra day to be with the kids. Or simply treat yourself to a cafe outing for a proper coffee whilst out and about with the kids. Plus, don’t forget to get lots of sleep!
When it comes times to structure your day during the school holidays, make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your cup full. Because you can’t take care of others with an empty cup.
>>> Do you have a school holiday play to prevent burnout and overwhelm?