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I’m one of those mums who loves the school holidays and more relaxed days. Except somehow I filled up the first week of our holidays with school holiday camps and swimming lessons, so there were no lazy mornings for the first week. But lots of fun to be had by little ones.
We also had 2 trips to the doctors, one trip to the chemist (but just to get ears pierced so not all bad) and 50 million trips to the supermarket. The triple pack of cabanossi sticks lasted 24 hours, which is saying something. We go through a lot of food and especially when everyone is home, and a quick trip to the shops for a top up will end up with 3 or 4 bags of groceries.
my top tips for school holiday survival and enjoyment are
Spread out the movies and special outings
All the best movies come out in time for the school holidays but it costs us almost $100 for a trip to the movies so we space it out somewhere in the middle of the break. It helps a little if you can go to the movies on the cheap day, or buy your tickets through NRMA or using discount vouchers. A family ticket is usually $50 which is great if you have 2 or 3 children but not so great for bigger families. Taking your own food and drink saves money and temptation at the candy bar.
These holidays we were lucky enough to receive tickets to the Ice Age live show which was a huge treat for the family and smack bang in the middle of the holidays too. The kids loved taking the ‘new car’ as they call it, and we liked it because we could take 5 kids in our Nissan Pathfinder and park in the multi storey next to the arena, rather than taking our van and parking further away because of the height restrictions. Meanwhile, the kids were happy to have their friend come in the car and watch movies on the Pathfinder’s entertainment system the kids are loving.
School holiday camps are fun but expensive.
Look for camps that offer good value, see if your child’s friend can go with them, and if you are being pestered then tell them they’ll have to trade off something else like a movie etc. My little girl’s special school run a wonderful week long camp where you can pick and choose the days and activities. We did art, dance and music and she had a ball.
The kids all do swimming lessons, and if they are almost ready for the next class, or if they need some extra help, then a swimming school holiday program (5 days a week of swimming!) is a great way to get some exercise. Intensive lessons are also great for families who can’t commit to weekly lessons.
You could put all the kids in lessons at the same time and relax, or try and keep younger kids out of the pool, which is how it works for me.
You can’t beat the park
Text another mum and meet her at the park for an afternoon to tire everyone out. No one needs to clean their house or worry about having people over, plus you’ve got two sets of eyes to watch the kids.
De-clutter the house
Get some of those bigger jobs done like kids wardrobes, the playroom and kitchen cupboards. We are having a big clear out because every year we seem to get more stuff and this house was built for a family of 4 and not a family of 8. See if there are any local fetes that are collecting donations, or take them to your nearest charity collection centre. Top tip though is not to come home with things. I de-clutter with a bag to throw out, a bag for friends/ family and a bag for charity. Only good things I am happy to pass on go in the charity bag. In one afternoon I did my craft room and magazines and got all these bags out of the house, with some helpers. Luckily the Pathfinder has enough boot room to fit it all!
Put movies on in the car
When the Nissan Pathfinder arrived we put about 12 DVDs in the car. The kids are always excited to go anywhere so they can watch a movie. I have to tell you a funny story about this.
We were at a Saturday morning rugby game and my big boy was asked to stay on and play the next game. I was on my own with most of the kids, it was boiling hot, I’d already spent all of my money on the sausage sizzle and canteen so said to everyone let’s go sit in the car and out of the of the sun and watch a movie as daddy is on his way. Everyone walked with me nicely to the car. It was a pretty crazy morning and a mum later commented on how well behaved everyone was as she walked past. Ahhh, that’s because the kids knew Kung Fu Panda was going to be on in the car for the next 15 minutes.
Tip out the Lego tub.
Lay out a blanket and tip out the lego tub or every bit of lego that you own. Hours of fun there, but the deal is that everyone has to help you put the lego away. That’s the deal. $2 lego building competitions are also popular in this house.
My girls love to play florists. They set up shop and collect flowers and greenery from around the garden and then make little bouquets.
The library or new books
Back in the early days of family life we’d always visit the local library. Unfortunately as the family grew and the number of books being borrowed grew, so did the missing books. They always turn up but when we moved I just decided to postpone joining the library. It’s just one child that always seems to lose books and we turn the house upside down, pay the fine and then it turns up again. The kids borrow at school each week and preschool has a library too. I never finished books in enough time so I choose to look for the best price online or at my favourite bookshop. Check out the library story time and any school holiday activities too.
Baking serves two purposes in our house because it’s entertainment and it’s also making something to eat and fill tummies. Win win. Just remember that the kids’ idea of cleaning up isn’t yours, so teach them how to clean up as you’re showing them. If they haven’t done it right, call them back and encourage them to do it again.
Sleep ins and pj days
One of the best things about holidays is not getting up and dressed for school. So plan a PJ day and make the most of it. And hopefully you don’t have a delivery or surprise guest come to the door.
Arts and Crafts
Pick up some cheap packs of watercolour paints and butchers paper or pack of printer paper. Let the kids paint portraits of each other, what they can see, flowers, leaves or something else. I get hours of peace and quiet when the kids are painting and having fun on the back balcony. One day we had rain coming in and the girls weren’t bothered at all. The water paints wash out of everything easily and are fun to use as well. I stay clear of other paints that seem to go everywhere and don’t come out of clothes easily.
We also love beads, buttons and other crafts and they don’t have to cost a lot of money.
When all else fails and someone says they are bored tell them the dishwasher needs unpacking or the floors need to be washed. Works every time.
Oh and the fights. Look in every family there are quarrels and arguments over who sits where, someone is annoying someone else, someone wanted quiet time, someone hurt me (on purpose; never an accident apparently!) and so on. Time out, hug it out, attention to someone who needs it, quiet time reading, no screen time for an hour; whatever works. Sometimes, a little heart to heart that everyone needs to get along and love each other doesn’t go astray.
What’s your number 1 tip for school holiday fun?