Planning for a Great School Holiday

Yesterday I wrote about all the things that I love about summer holidays – both the busy, joyful moments and the quiet ones.

But as much as I love school holidays in general, and the (longer) summer holidays especially, I do get a bit nervous about having so much unstructured time with all the kids at home.

Isn’t that weird? I love the unstructured time with my kids, but it’s also what stresses me out.

I guess I worry that the kids will get bored, then I’ll get stressed, then the house will get trashed and by the end of holidays, we’ll all just end up in a big ball of chaos and angst.

So. I did what I always do when I start to worry about things…

I prayed about it, and then I took out pen and paper and made a plan.

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I haven’t included my full mind map in this picture to protect the privacy of my kids, but my plan for the summer holidays has three basic categories:

  • Ideas and Activities
  • Home management
  • Personal focus areas

Ideas and Activities

This is where I write out all the things the kids and I might like to do for fun in the holidays. For some of you, this might include special events or displays aimed at kids. For us, we prefer more low-key activities that are based in our home or where there are not likely to be large crowds.

I’ve also listed ideas for crafts to make or things to cook with the kids.

Some of these things will be for when my husband has time off work, but most of it will be done with just the kids and I.

Here’s some of the things on our list:

  • baking muffins
  • making paper chains
  • wrapping presents for each other
  • making an obstacle course outside
  • water play in the back yard
  • climbing a local mountain

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Home Management

I like to use the extra time each school holidays to tackle those jobs that fall to the side in the busyness of normal life. Those areas that have accumulated clutter or that one corner that is too difficult to reach with the vacuum cleaner normally.

The “too hard basket”, if you like.

When I mentioned this to my husband the other day, he said, “How does that work – that you have all the kids with you, but you have extra time?”

I explained to him that there’s more time in some ways – we don’t have the school drop off, pick up and associated “leaving the house” preparation to do each day. But in other ways it’s harder – sometimes the kids get a bit irritable around each other, especially if we stay in the house too much. So there is a balance to be found. But yes, there can be extra time for house work in the holidays!

Here’s some things on my list for home management:

  • tidy my desk
  • check the kids have the correct uniforms for next year
  • do our annual toy cull
  • declutter and cull my craft drawers

 

Personal Focus Areas

This is the space where I wrote out, for my self and each child, areas for personal development I would like us to work on during the holidays. It includes things like an attitude problem that needs to be worked out with one child. Or a practical skill that another child might be behind on.

Sometimes I think these things get left behind in the normal routine of the school term (even though they shouldn’t!), so it’s good to be intentional about addressing these things with our kids. Everyone has areas they struggle, but the key is to struggle and work through it. We don’t need to just accept that a bad attitude is just part of one kid’s personality, and some practical skills really need direct instruction.

This is kind of like a smaller, more short-term version of the yearly personal goals I set.

Here’s some of the things I’ve included for myself:

  • exercise regularly
  • read 2 books
  • patience with the kids

As I mentioned above, I’m not going to mention specifically what my kids are working on for the sake of their privacy. These are not things I have told them they should work on, rather they are things that I try to work into the natural flow of our days.

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How do you manage school holidays? Do you make a plan, or do you go with the flow?

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Planning for a Great School Holiday

  1. Very nice!

    Our kids just got out of school, and while I am noticing that things get dirty faster and we have to put more effort into keeping kids active, one area that is lighter is that I’m not getting school emails and paperwork. There’s a big rush in the last 2 or 3 weeks before school gets out (we had an evening event just about every night for 2+ weeks), and then everything slows down and there’s space to do other things.

    I find I’m caught up on my emails and phone calls and nearly all of my “to do” sticky notes odd jobs have disappeared. Normally, I’ve got a dozen or so sticky notes that I’m continually executing, removing, and then replacing with new ones, but there aren’t as many new stickies appearing, so I’m able to make actual progress. Today I managed to reschedule a lesson, finally read through and finish assembling the packet of forms and documents for Big Girl’s confirmation, called our old parish to tell them they dropped the ball on something (although not in those exact words), tried to book a playdate, got a “gone to California,” had a friend over to pick up some books from our collection, booked her twins for a playdate (gingerbread houses!), put out a query for another playdate, and figured out with husband when he is taking the big kids to see the new Star Wars.

    From now until Christmas, we’re going to be in Christmas prep mode, though.

    It probably makes the most sense to do Christmas cards and emails AFTER Christmas, not before. Right before Christmas is BUSY BUSY BUSY, so it’s the worst time of the year for that particular job, but I’m thinking the post-Christmas lull will be a good time for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. seriouslyserving said,

    “Wow, you’ve been productive!
    We’ve got a vomiting bug at the moment, so all our planned fun is on hold.”

    Thanks! It helps a lot that I haven’t had a lot of other responsibilities today, beyond just basic personal services for Baby Girl, some laundry, and some sous chef responsibilities.

    The twins’ mom said something about them being “like a tornado” when together, so we shall see what happens when they and Baby Girl try to decorate gingerbread houses together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So, one of the twins who was supposed to come got sick and they didn’t come. Our girls wound up doing the gingerbread houses by themselves. (Big Girl’s had an exquisite alternating red-and-white iced roof and green fondant door and took FOREVER, with each roof tile being piped individually. Baby Girl’s involved lots of smears of hot pink icing.)

    I’ve done a few more unusual tasks today. It is a big advantage that Baby Girl doesn’t require constant vigilance these days, and it’s also an advantage to have everybody home and not have other responsibilities. For example, Big Girl and I were going through some of her stuff today (a job on par with painting the Golden Gate Bridge in terms of how long it takes) and because everybody was home and unoccupied, it was easy to ask the smaller kids if they want this or that. I even taught Middle Kid to load the dishwasher and husband and I prepped the living room for Christmas. Middle Kid and husband are doing some sort of woodworking project right now. (Husband is on an academic calendar.)

    Aside from Christmas stuff, my other two irregular household tasks are to do the other 75% of Big Girl’s room and negotiate with Baby Girl for her to dispose of some of her paper treasures, which are beginning to overflow. I also need to teach Big Girl how to load the dishwasher.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Is your husband a teacher? It must be nice to have him home for school holidays 🙂

    I cleaned the car out this morning with the middle child while my husband mowed the lawn with the other two. Middle child was meant to be helping me, but instead spent the whole time climbing through the tree in the front yard (and really – being cheerfully occupied is it’s own kind of help!).

    We don’t have a dishwasher, never have (yet!) – so shed a tear for me! I don’t actually mind hand washing dishes, but the ages of the kids mean there are constant interruptions. I am learning to wash it in several small attempts over the course of the day.

    I used to be a paper hoarder too, and now my daughter is following in my foot steps.

    Like

  5. SS said:

    “Is your husband a teacher? It must be nice to have him home for school holidays 🙂”

    It’s GREAT!

    He’s a professor, which is better and worse. It’s better because the calendar and the hours of needing to be at work are even shorter than K-12 teaching, but it’s worse in that because there’s some travel. We live near the college, husband walks to work, and we hope that the kids will study there eventually.

    He has a fair amount of academic work during the summer, but he is able to help a lot with the kid shuttling and exercise.

    “I cleaned the car out this morning with the middle child while my husband mowed the lawn with the other two. Middle child was meant to be helping me, but instead spent the whole time climbing through the tree in the front yard (and really – being cheerfully occupied is it’s own kind of help!).”

    Yes!

    “I used to be a paper hoarder too, and now my daughter is following in my foot steps.”

    When she has days at home, Baby Girl often crafts all day long. The volume of projects is enormous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha! We try to get the kids to help (even if it’s not super helpful when their little) just to train them in thinking about others.
    We had a heart-melting moment in church this morning when the kids were asked, “What’s the best part about Christmas?” and our daughter answered, “Giving!” ❤

    Like

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