In many households, children break up from school before their parents stop work for the festive season. Some children stay at home with a caregiver during this time while others are looked after by relatives such as grandparents. Holiday clubs and aftercare centers are proliferating to meet the need of working parents to keep their children well-cared for and stimulated otherwise they are likely to end up in front of a screen.
The advantages of holiday clubs
You can introduce your child to new activities that they don’t usually have time for during the school term. Some of the holiday club offerings include:
- Programming or coding
- Horse riding
- Outdoor adventures, and much more
Check out your local Child magazine and sites such as www.jozikids.co.za for listings of holiday club programmes.
Advantages of holiday care at their school
Many preschools and private schools offer a holiday care facility for working parents. The advantage, especially for little ones and preschoolers is that they are generally being cared for and stimulated by people they already know and trust. This means that there are no emotional wobblies to contend with. They stay in the same routine and are dropped off and collected at the same time every day.
The school creates their own holiday programme of fun activities. At this time of the year this may include festive crafts that the children will be able to bring home for Christmas, some form of baking and adventure obstacle courses.
Family to the rescue
Grandparents often step into the breach when parents can’t be there. What would we do without them? This can be wonderful bonding time for grandparents and their grandchildren. Some activities to do:
- The major shopping malls have some great holiday entertainment in their center courts that make for a good outing
- There are festive light shows in malls and at hotels
- New kids movies are usually released at this time
- Help children to make home-made gifts for their parents
- Show children how to make Christmas gift tags
- Make old-fashioned sweets together such as fudge, coconut ice in preparation for Christmas
- Decorate the family Christmas tree together
- Make festive paper chains to decorate the house with
- Make an Advent calendar together – you put the little surprises in so that they get a surprise every day before Christmas (just Google Matchbox Advent Calendars for some lovely ideas)
Making your caregiver the holiday hero too
For those parents with full-time domestic help, your life continues as normal but now there is more to do at home. Encourage your helper to:
- Include the children with the cooking and the chores
- Leave a recipe for making homemade playdough together
- If you live in a safe environment encourage a daily walk to the local park
- Make sure everyone knows when they are allowed to watch TV and what programmes they are allowed to watch
- Make sure the pantry is stocked with healthy snacks and a few treats
Get together with other children
Your children are used to being part of a group at school so do organise some play dates with other children. If you have other full-time working friends with domestic help, the helpers can visit with each other during the playdate too. Host some play dates in your home and allow your children to visit in other homes in which they will be safe and feel comfortable. Changes of scenery are necessary for children to avoid getting cabin fever.
This is a great time for young people to:
- Get their community hours done (my son has often used this time to get 25 hours under the belt). Visit www.communityhours.co.za for volunteering opportunities that you can match to your child’s interests.
- Get work experience done to get an idea of what your child is interested in.
The bottom line is that you need to keep your children just busy enough that they don’t spend all day glued to a screen. Keep in touch during the day and make sure you plan to spend a bit of quality time with the children at the end of the day. You can play the Sweets & the Sours Game at the dinner table to catch up with what they have been doing.
On weekends make sure you do unusual things such as some of the items on the grandparent’s list, especially if your children are home-bound during the week with a caregiver or domestic helper. They will need to get out from time to time and you need to be easing into the holiday mode.