How to enjoy the holidays with your pre-schooler
With the summer holidays nearly upon us, we parents need a break to unwind after a busy year, and so do our little people. But without the routine of preschool and term time activities, how can you keep them entertained and still get stuff done without parental guilt breathing down your neck? Read on for a few handy tips.
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Write a holiday activity list to put on the fridge
Some activities will take most of the day, such as a trip to the beach or the local pool. Others require less time, like having a picnic on the lawn, running through the sprinkler or baking cookies. Make a 'holiday bucket list' and each morning pick one activity from the list and plan your day. You could even invite some friends along to make it a social event. Get out and have fun! My boys love contributing to our list. At the end of the holidays it’s a reminder that we’ve had lots of fun together!
Don’t obsess about keeping a tidy house
Pre-schoolers are champion mess-makers. Nothing highlights this fact like the holidays. You could spend your entire break following them around with the Dyson and a mop, but they will undo all your work in a flash. You need better work stories, so step over the matchbox cars and get out in the sunshine. You have permission.
Remember, social media is a ‘highlights reel’.
Over the summer, social media is swamped with images of families in resort pools on tropical islands. It may look like they are having more fun than your family, especially if you are having a ‘staycation’. Remind yourself that people tend to share their picture-perfect highlights rather than the (sometimes hideous) unfiltered reality. On the way to Waiheke Island for a wedding, my toddler filled his undies travelling along the Auckland motorway. I had to clean him up on the floor of a service station toilet. I didn’t put a photo of that on Facebook.
Maintain routine when travelling away (where possible)
While it’s tempting to let your pre-schooler stay up late or skip a nap when you are on the go, you run the risk of overtired feral behaviour. Keeping regular bedtimes is better for everyone. Driving during your little ones’ nap times can make for a peaceful journey as many are lulled to sleep.
Have plenty food on hand so they can eat at their usual meal/snack times.
Because telling a hangry child they must wait until the next town to eat, doesn’t cut it. And meltdowns cause driver distraction. Check out this article on snacks for when you're on-the-run
Use screen time to your advantage
We all know too much screen time is a bad idea but, used wisely it can help busy parents get stuff done. If you need to put on Ruby and Max for 15 minutes to take some deep breaths and scrub the toilet, take that parental guilt and flush it away. Just don’t allow yourself to get talked into another 15 minutes and another…. Remember who’s in charge. Balance with physical activities.
Share the childcare
Call on family or friends when you need to get jobs done. If you drop your child off at a friend’s house, return the favour another day so they can have time out too. Invite nan or pops around for a cuppa. They’ll enjoy time with their grandy and you can get stuff done while your little one is safely entertained. Everyone wins.
Sit with your children and marvel at them
Kids need downtime. You need downtime – don’t spend the entire holidays on the go. Sometimes all little people want is for you to sit with them and colour-in or read a book at home. Drink in the way their chubby hands hold a felt pen, the way they giggle when you put on funny reading voices. These are the golden times that make the challenging moments worthwhile. Slow down and feel the love.
Renee Murphy is a writer and mother of two cheeky school-aged boys. Bushwalks and picnics are at the top of their family holiday activity list.