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Holiday boredom? Here's a tip

Do you know what I hate? People that tell you how to “beat school holiday boredom”, like those pompous, self-righteous, upper middleclass gits that come on the commercial morning shows (Editor: Not Kochie, surely?). I hate the smugness of the hidden advertising and I hate the assertion that kids will get bored. I hate that this is a news service’s bread and butter during slow news times. Oh, and I hate how everything needs to cost money to these people - how they think that all kids want to do is sit on their devices all day and not interact with the world. They don’t … they will if you let them (that is for another blog) but the reality is; they don’t.

It seems that there are more and more memes popping up on social media that are glorifying my generation’s childhood:

“When I was a kid I didn’t have bottled water… I had a garden hose?”

I liked because I agreed (I didn’t really but, for the purpose of this blog, let’s just say I did). My favourite generation X childhood meme is this:

I love the commentary on how we are so protective of kids now that we limit their experiences through self-imposed health and safety regulations. This, in turn, limits our kids risk-taking and then they struggle to learn boundaries and personal limitations and will never truly know what freedom and adventure are. Were we given so much freedom to get sunburnt, break bones and skin knees that we now do everything in our favour to save our kids from experiencing that pain and discomfort? Or is this more a commentary on parents wanting to avoid waiting times in A & E?

To be fair, we don’t need to fill up every minute of every day for our kids during the holidays. Kids should be encouraged to play, read and create independently from a young age but as a parent you can see when they need that extra input.

I am a teacher and I will unashamedly put my hand up and say I get a lot of holidays and I deserve them. A couple of years ago I got to the end of the holidays and sort of felt that I hadn’t achieved anything. I got back to school and people asked me what I did in my holidays and my response was, “Just hung out”. I reflected on this and, in part, felt that I had wasted my holidays. So I planned my next one and set myself some simple little goals or aims for my next set of holidays. It is also the guide I use for school holidays when I am looking to enhance my kid’s time away from school.

Here are the holiday enhancers;

Learn a new skill – even if it is ten minutes a day! My partner and I like to provide our kids with a number of experiences and then extend them through learning the skill. We then buy presents for Christmas etc. based on these skills. Our son recently got a keyboard for Christmas and we are teaching both of our boys how to play the keyboard and allowing them to compose their own music. My new skill these holidays is learning to ride a skateboard.

Build something (repurposing old products for new) to solve a problem or to pursue a “want” – whether it is Lego or box construction, building is great for kids. Creating is not just limited to building though, it could be painting a picture or writing a story. The other year, I built a cubby (fort) for my kids out of mostly recycled materials. I put a sandpit underneath … they hardly use it which bugs me at no end. They don’t use it because I didn’t build enough walls on it for hiding like spies and they thought that I should build more! The other day, I put sheets, clamps and zipties in the fort and then got the largest water pistol I could find and cornered them in the fort. They then had to modify the fort to defend against my attack.

Find something new to do that is fun but free – not everything has to cost money. We were camping recently and we went to look at a waterfall. That was free but the water was freezing and hardly fun. My oldest son decided to walk down the gorge. I went with him. It turned into a game. National parks are a great, free resource for exploring.

Take a risk– Pushing kids to reasonable limits. If a kid can do a skill, what is the next level of daring. It starts with the words, “Can you…?”.

Can you ride your bike down this hill?

Can you climb to that rock (back at the gorge?

Can you cross the river without getting your feet wet?

With the appropriate amount of praise set the next risk, “That’s cool, what are you going to do next?”. You don’t have to prompt all challenges.

Research something they love – My older son is 6, turning 7. He loves lizards and anything embedded in science amongst other things. We decided to get him a bearded dragon enclosure. Upon my own research I realised that I could repurpose our old television corner cabinet (this set me a holiday task!). I found a 15 minute youtube clip explaining everything needed to put into a vivarium. He wrote lists of materials lights, thermometers etc. It has been a great project and nearly at it’s completion.

I don’t wake up every morning and say, “Here are our 5 goals for today!” but, rather observe my kids, listen to what they like and then try and mould the goals around them. Yesterday, I was at loose ends with the boys and thought about the list. Free but fun; attached a sprinkler to the pole of the trampoline, pulled up the basketball ring, we then then put a canvas over the top from an old gazebo and made a water parachute game (hour done!). We then had a new experience; I took them to a free outdoor music concert in a nearby town. It wasn’t new, we had done it before but not for a long time (I reckon it was new enough). The great thing is that my holiday enhancers not only enhance the holidays, but family relationships as well. They generate conversations and problem solving. As you can tell, some are small activities that might last 20 minutes and others are projects that can be chipped away at over time. It doesn’t matter but it does “beat school holiday boredom”. I wonder if Kochie or Karl will be looking for me next holidays?


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