School holiday survival 101

Not bored ... sleeping

It’s started.
As you read this we’re on day eight of the school holidays – just 27 days to go (minus the weekends).
Not that I’m counting.
My sons are thrilled at the prospect of six weeks off school and kindergarten.
I wish I could share their joy. Sadly for me – and many other parents – the extended summer break means six weeks of scheduling hell.
My husband and I both work and like most working couples we each get limited holidays – he gets four weeks, I get six.
But our children enjoy about 12 weeks of holidays throughout the school year, which leaves us with something of a problem.
Sure, we could tag team the holidays – he does four, then I do six – but that would mean we never get to holiday as a family.
So over the next 27 days I have created a bumper schedule of extra curricular activities to keep our sons busy while we work.
The schedule features tennis lessons, soccer clinic, acrobatic classes and some school holiday care.
In between there are days to be spent with mum and dad, as well as grandparent days. Ahhh grandparents. Where would we be without them?
In big trouble apparently. According to the ABS, 660,000 Australian children were in grandparent care in 2008. Much of this grandparent care is unpaid … which of course is part of the attraction.
School holiday activities, holiday sports clinics and movie outings are great but they’re also expensive so the promise of free care is attractive..
There’s two words – I’m bored – that I don’t want to hear these holidays. I see it as a challenge to schedule so many exciting activities that the kids won’t have time for boredom.
But action-packed holidays is not what our children need. A while back I interviewed Dr Margaret Brechman-Toussaint from the Triple P Positive Parenting Centre and she said free-play days were essential.
Let them make their own fun, amuse themselves, she advised.
As parents she says we should help our kids learn to relax, unwind and entertain themselves.
Managing expectations are also important. I’m as guilty as the next parent when it comes to this. I want to make the most of every minute and try to organise life-changing, memorable events and moments for my kids whenever I can.
But sometimes the most cherished moments will be those spent, lazing about the house. No expensive stage show, no electronic games, no elaborate zoo outing.
I learned this the hard – and expensive – way when I shelled out for Wiggles Christmas concert tickets.
Fifteen minutes into the show and our youngest son asked if we could go now.
I do believe the boys would have been just as happy watching a Wiggles DVD in the comfort of our home.
But if you are looking for inspiration, here’s a few of my go-to holiday activity websites:

Active & Healthy Gold Coast, free and low-cost activities organised by the Gold Coast City Council –

Scenic Rim Council’s Blast into Arts

Soccer X Holiday Clinics

Gallery of Modern Art

Spotlight Theatre Benowa

The Arts Centre Gold Coast

Art Classes

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Thunderbird Park

Drax 4 Kids

Police Citizens Youth Club