Making the most of school holidays

With Angela Lockwood, Occupational Therapist, parent and teacher educator.

School holidays can cause parents worry about keeping kids entertained. In this episode Angela reminds us about what school holidays are really about and how to change from feeling like an activities coordinator to enjoying the down times as much as the fun times with your kids. Enjoy!

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Episode Transcription 

 Angela Lockwood 0:04

Welcome to A Kid's Life Podcast. I'm Angela Lockwood and for the last 20 years I have been working in schools, supporting teachers to build inclusive classrooms. Through A Kid's Life Podcast. My goal is to help us adults better understand the complexities of life as a kid, my guests, and I share stories, reflections and simple strategies to support kids of all needs as they walk through life. So whether you're looking for inspiration, direction, guidance, tips, or just a laugh, a kid's life podcast is the place for you. Enjoy.

Angela Lockwood 0:42
Hi, everyone, welcome to A Kid's Life Podcast, I'm Angela Lockwood and thanks so much for joining me because it is school holidays. For most of you parents, you're either well in the thick of school holidays, or you are about to start school holidays. So I thought it'd be a great time for us to have a little chat really about what school holidays are all about, and how you can use your school holidays, so that you can actually get the rest that you need. If you are working during the school holidays, how you can support your child to have the rest that they need. You know, let's face it this year has been a really, really big year for so many of us, actually, let's face it, it's been a big year for all of us. And particularly for our kids, it has been a year of lots of interruptions. It's been a year of a lot of negativity that's come through our media. But it's also been a year where, you know, every each year is actually a big year for kids in terms of their growth and transitioning to a new year learning new things. But for many people this year, it feels like things are slowly moving back to whatever normal looks like. But one thing I've also noticed is that there's a lot of sickness around I myself have been facing a little bit more sickness, actually than what I would like in the last few months. You know, I have had COVID, the last couple of months, I've had the flu, head colds, all of that sort of gross stuff. But it's really important when we're seeing this sickness coming into our lives, no matter where you are, it might be winter, it could be coming into summer. But no matter where we are, when we see sickness start to arise in our bodies, it's usually a really good indication that things need to slow down. And a lot of the times for our little kids as well. You know, they get sick too. And it's not just, you know, that's kids, they get sick. But usually when people get sick, it's an indication that their immune system is feeling flat, their immune system is compromised. And often it's a sign that we've maybe been pushing it a little bit too hard.

Angela Lockwood 2:47
So school holidays is a perfect time for us to stop and take a little bit of a bit of a check, really to see are we pushing things a little bit too hard? How do I want these school holidays to look for me and my children, and just take the time that is needed. Now if you're a teacher listening to this, wow, my hat goes off to you. It has been a big year for you too. And school holidays are perfectly designed to allow you to press pause and do those things that bring you joy. Now, how do we make the most out of school holidays now? I can't really remember when I was a little kid doing too many things other over our school holidays other than, you know, we might have just been relaxing at home just sort of chilling, we might have been catching up with our friends we had, we would go on little holidays, we would go camping. And sometimes I can remember those big holidays where you know we might we were going overseas or we'd go and see relatives. I always had just had the most fondest memories of my childhood and school holidays were always times that were full of adventure, full of socialising, going and doing cool things. But there was also moments that I can remember where we weren't doing anything at all. And sometimes they weren't the most fun to just take a moment as a parent and think back to what your childhood was like. What were your school holidays like? Was it that you were hanging around with your parents at work? Yeah, I can remember getting going to school my mum was was was a teacher, but she was a teacher in an adult education setting. And I still love going to work with her and helping her you know door marking or maybe this is where I get my organisational love from. I would help her in you know, office manager office and clean it up and go and do errands for her. I used to love it and made me feel really needed. But also it was a really different break. It was a different environment to what I was used to as a kid and that was going to work with my mom. I can also remember doing some of the same things are going to work with data as well. And so, school holidays will be an individual, you'll remember things that really light you up about your school holidays. And I know I've consciously as a parent, tried to find that balance between activity and downtime for my kids over school holidays. But let's face it, sometimes it can feel like school holidays drag on, I know, you know, those six week break holidays. And I know that some schools have even longer breaks.

Angela Lockwood 5:31
My purpose for having a chat today about school holidays, is helping us press pause and really reconnect with what school holidays are about, and how you can maximise the downtime of it. But also have those opportunities to just spend time doing things with your kids. Now, whether or not you're working, or you have time off, or if you're somebody who needs to balance both. Wherever you find yourself, I want, first of all, for you to take the guilt away from needing to be your children's activity directors, I know I find myself sometimes feeling like I have to create this amazing experience every day for the kids. And the other side is feeling really guilty if I haven't done that. And it's, you know, mother's guilt, parents guilt, it's always seems to be there. But we don't need it to be because our kids don't constantly need to be entertained. Now, if you are needing to go to work, and I know that there's lots of different scenarios for all of you, and even the ages of your children will determine what you do during your school holidays. So rather than looking at the activities that you could do, let's have a think about what do you want your children to get out of their school holiday break? And that's a really important question. So what would you like your children to get out of their school holiday break? Now when you think about it, you look at the school year, and the school year is pretty hectic for kids. And I often see sort of term one of a school year, particularly here in Australia is all about transitioning and allowing the child to sort of settle in, find their groove, connect with their social network. And, you know, just find out what the lay of the land is of the new year they're learning new skills, sometimes they've they've increased the demand. So the year has gotten a little bit harder. And they're just trying to find their way, that's usually sort of term one.

Angela Lockwood 7:32
In a nutshell, term two is very much about sort of getting into the routine. And this is where kids will often it can feel a little bit like the hamster wheel for kids at school in term two, as much as it does sometimes for teachers as well. But this is where you know, school sports are usually going and outside of school sports have all started up. And that is homework and things can feel a little bit like sort of a little bit, you've sort of drudging along if that's I don't even know if that's a word. But you know, it can feel like you're a little bit of a hamster wheel that it's a bit like Groundhog Day, every day. And this term being turned to which is what we have just come out of here in Australia is term to can really feel it quite exhausting in a very different way to what term one can now turn to at this time of the year, it's here in Australia, it's winter. So we sort of feel like we need to go into hibernation. But it also is a is a time of the year about six months in where the fatigue is starting to sort of set in, we're starting to kids have had a lot of activity over the year. And if we look at the seasons, particularly here in Australia in winter, it's this beautiful time where we can actually rest and rejuvenate in in preparation for spring and summer. Now I know it sounds probably weird, hang on, and you're talking about school holidays, and now you're talking about seasons and but when you think about it, our bodies naturally go into a space of wanting to, you know, find calm at this time of the year, you know, we want to sit in front of an open fire or we want to have our own design or our blankets on and sit in the lounge and watch a movie. You know, it's time where we do sort of go a little bit more indoors. Now whether you love that space, there's all you know that's it's up to you. But sometimes people like to go outside as well. And this is often a time where people might go camping and they'll have the fire the fire on and you know, all wrapped up and it's a really lovely time of the year where we start to just naturally hibernate a little bit. And this gives us a really good opportunity just to slow things down a little. And because of that natural tendency over the year for things to be really sort of bad. settling in and finding our way in turn one and then turn to is about doing the work. This is a perfect time, if you are already feeling energetically flat, or if your child has been getting a sick a little bit more often. Or if you're noticing that, you know they're getting quite tired, these current school holidays are a perfect time to allow your children time just to have downtime to have those days if they want to where they're sitting in front of the TV watching Netflix all day. Or it might be that they do you go out and have a nice quiet lunch with them. Or it might be let them sleep in that little bit longer in the morning. Because this school holidays, if you look at it, it sort of marks the middle of the year. And it's a time where children can just breathe, and press pause. So think about some of those activities that you can do that allow your kids to be able to just stop for a little bit. Now it doesn't mean that we let our kids sit in front of the TV for two weeks, and you know, or on their phones and devices for two weeks and do nothing else. But what it does do is it allows, you know, it helps for you guys to think about, well, if they sleep in till 9.30 in the morning, and it's school holidays, and you know, there's nothing else on it's okay that they sleep in their bodies might be needing it, because during the term, they're up, you know, they're going they might have training in the morning trainings in the afternoon they might have before or after school activities that they need to get to. And things are often at quite a bit of a rush. So during the school holidays, it is it's an awesome time, just to allow them to sleep in a little bit. Even at nighttime, they might want to go to bed a little bit earlier, having those really nourishing meals as well. So giving them foods like stews, or you know slow cooker meals, I love my slow cooker. All of those things that, you know, it might be the pies that you that you make or that you go to the store and you buy, you know, the butcher some beautiful pies or whatever it is that however your family eats curries. It's those nourishing foods that allow your kids just to slow down. So what I'm encouraging you all to do is look at how can I support this moment that's in line with the seasons in particularly here in the southern hemisphere of nourishment, of sort of hibernation, and of pressing pause of just nourishing our soul that little bit because our kids, if they are exhausted now, if they're tired if they're getting more sick than normal, and they go into turn three after the school holidays, and they're still feeling like that, the rest of the year will be a hard slog, they will be trying to push through rather than feeling like they have the reserves. Because let's face it, term four is crazy. It's, you know, end of the year, people usually get pretty tired because they don't do the things that we're talking about now, and really making the most of school holidays.

Angela Lockwood 13:06
So other than that hibernation time, don't forget that school holidays are also about maintaining those social connections with their peers in a way that allows them to have fun. Now, having fun is something that of course it most kids do really naturally. But there are times to where facilitated fun is important for us parents to do too. And what I mean by facilitated fun, it might be that you take them to the movies, depending on the age of your children, taking them to the movies with their friends, letting them wander around the stores, you might be there. Yeah, you might go and have a shop while they're in there, you know that they're safe. Or for younger kids and little kids that might be having their their friends over. And having, you know, a picnic outside, if the weather's if the weather's nice, or allowing them to build those forts or those cubby houses in the house. I do encourage all of you to just to have a think about and to monitor devices over school holidays. You know, yes, there is a balance, okay. And the balance, I will leave up to you. And there's a whole lot of really great resources you can go to, but on on this podcast, I have interviewed some really fantastic people and one is Dr. Kristy Goodwin, who talks about device use and what and what that really means and what conversations we should be having with our kids. So if that's something that interests you, please check out my interview with Dr. Kristy Goodwin here on A Kid's Life Podcast. I'll also link it to the bottom of the show notes of this episode. So it's easy for you to find.

Angela Lockwood 14:45
But what we're looking at over holidays is the opportunity for kids to press pause to have a break from school. So no homework over the holidays. It's it's not necessary. It doesn't do anything for the kids the homework and should be left in their school bag, put their school bag away and let them go and have fun, let them explore. Let them connect with their peers and let them have downtime. Now, if you're going away on holidays, then that is fantastic good for you. If you're staying at home, that is also fantastic and good for you, there are plenty of things that you can do. Now for your kids, as well. I mentioned this at the beginning, you don't have to be an activities director for them, it can feel like that. And if it feels like that, then the activities won't be fun. But what you can do is have some days in your in the holidays, where they are planned activities. You know, depending on the age of your child, again, it might be that they're going to school holiday programmes, it might be that they love tennis, so they're going to a tennis camp, it might be that they're going to stay with relatives, and just chilling with them and having fun with them. school holidays doesn't have to be like this never ending cycle of paid activities. That adds to your stress. Because school holidays become so expensive, trying to entertain your kids. There are lots and lots of opportunities that you can have, where it's free, that you're connecting with other people, it might be family, it might be friends, but also look at activities where you don't have to plan anything. So it might be you have days during the school holidays where you do nothing. And it might be come lunch that the kids go, hey, you know mum or dad, or can I do this. And it might be Yeah, let's go for a walk or let's go play a board game. Depending on the weather, there's lots of different opportunities that you can have just to have no plans that naturally evolve into fun family activities. Now, if you are at work, let's talk about that. Over the school holidays,

Angela Lockwood 16:55
I juggle work and spending time with the kids over school holidays. And I know what it's like to sort of try to quiet the kids down in the background while you're doing your work. And trying to make sure that the kids are not going to do anything crazy out while you're trying to work. Or you might be needing to go to a workplace. I want all of the school holidays for parents to be totally guilt free. So if you are working, then you are working. But please don't stress yourself out that it's about entertaining your kids as well as needing to go to work. Your kids have resilience. They have good coping skills where you don't need to be with them 24/7. Now, of course, this is age dependent. And there's lots of variables. But if we really go back to the basics of what school holidays are really about, and I want you to think about this school holidays is about giving your kids a break. It's about giving them an opportunity to press pause, and to start to find and regain their energy they need to help them thrive in the next term. Now, whatever that looks like for you, your family and your child, I'll leave that up to you. There are plenty of great things that you can look for online. I've got a free downloadable document too, that you could download that's in the show notes. And I'll also share it on my socials at Angela Lockwood and on Instagram and it will also be on Facebook and LinkedIn all the different socials where you can download. We're just activity ideas for the school holidays. But what I would like you to think about is if school holidays, particularly these ones is about pressing pause. Re energising and having downtime. What are some of the things that you could do over these holidays with your kids to allow that to happen? Is it a family movie night, one of the nights you know you might be coming home from work? You go and get some pizzas from the shop and you come home and you all chill in front of the TV. It might be that it might be could you sleep in on a on a Saturday morning and just let everyone relax. Everyone can stay in the jammies as long as they need. What does it look like for you. Because what we don't want is school holidays to be a stress for you. It is much about having the kids have a break and rest and press pause as it is for you. So if you are working, it might be the night times where you're pressing pause and spending time with the kids is the space to do that. Now if you have any activity ideas, please share it with us in the comments. And make sure that all your different ideas if you have a cracking idea that you do and you know that the kids loved it, let us know and I'll share it with my audience because I think parents are so creative we come up with The best ideas. But don't worry, if you haven't got them booked in every single day to something, don't worry about keeping them entertained every minute, because this is where creativity comes out for kids. When kids can find those downtime moments and the time that isn't scheduled, then days where we start to see kids go outside again and play in the backyard or come up with different ideas that remember that stuff we did when we were kids, when we would have you know, downtime, and we would we would do a concert or we would play with our, you know, teddy bears and doles and come up with a picnic or we would come up with creative ideas. And the only way we can only also do that is by having time off devices. So devices, school holidays doesn't mean 24/7 access to devices, put some boundaries around devices over the holidays so that kids can have that downtime that they can press pause. But then they can also come up with fun creative ideas, whether they're alone, being with themselves, or whether they've got friends over. Really important to give kids that time where they can just relax. And they can also come up with really fun creative ideas just like we did. So if you have enjoyed this episode, please let me know. Share it with somebody who you feel might need. Very nice suggestion, soft suggestion about how we can make the most out of our school holidays, but make sure that school holidays, you've got it by now

Angela Lockwood 21:33
I've said it a few times make sure it is about rest. It is about having downtime. And it's also about building those energy stores so that your child can thrive between now and the end of the year and beyond. Thanks for listening. I'm Angela Lockwood. Please share this episode and I look forward to talking to you next week about more fun things to do with kids. Thank you for listening to a kid's life podcast. To stay up to date with all new episodes. Please subscribe on Spotify, Apple podcasts and Google podcasts. If you want to know more about the inclusive classroom or any of the other programmes I provide. Please go to Angela And until next time, slow down. Have fun and enjoy