School is out for the Easter holidays, and I find myself probably more excited than the children! As a working mum trying to maintain, and grow a business, run a household and juggle children and their active social lives I am very much looking forward to the more relaxed pace the holidays bring.
My top 5 list of likes:
No school run – meaning snuggles and cuddles in mummys bed in the morning with extraordinarily bad kids tv on
Enjoying breakfast together – treats of pancakes with very bad for you toppings, rather than the usual throwing of cereal in a bowl with milk
No pressure on time – we can do what we want, when we want
No strict bedtime – kids get to stay up past their normal bedtime of 8pm, which sometimes (not always!),means that they might, just might sleep later in the morning!
Fun activities- We have rules – only 2 paid for activities per week, the rest have to be free – we are afterall like all families – on a budget. This is great, as it means we have to be inventive, the kids get to use their imagination and appreciate it’s the time together, not what we spend that’s important.
During the last holidays, I wasn’t too organised with things to do, and I got the inevitable ‘I’m BORED mum’ far too many times for my liking, there was a lot of frustration on my part, which in turn led to grumpy mum and grumpy kids, a fair bit of falling out, snapping at each other and arguments.
I read quite recently about a highly respected couples therapist called Dr. John M. Gottman who did some intensive research and came up with the ‘magic ratio’ in all relationships that it takes 5 positive acts to balance out 1 negative.
A pretty high ratio I thought! Heavens, for each and every time I’ve got cross, spoken harshly, dismissed my kids – I need to do 5 positive acts – that’s giving me quite a mountain to climb..in fact Everest sprung to mind.
The good news was that the positive actions required to counteract the negative ones don’t have to be grand acts of kindness. A smile, a loving touch or ‘I love you’ counts – PHEW! Its more about spending time doing the things they like to do – no matter if that’s playing peppa pig on the tablet for a while, baking buns or a trip to the park.
I figured that I am in quite some debt in terms of positive actions to counteract the arguments, yelling and rolling of eyes that took place during the last lot of holidays… but these type of things I can do.. afterall.. it’s the holidays – time to work of the debt
Occupying your children during the holidays is not always an easy task – especially on a budget and with our totally unpredictable weather. A day trip to the park with picnic is often postponed in favour of a Pyjama day when on waking you discover a down pour! So this time around I decided to get them more involved in deciding how we were going to best fill our time.
We’ve introduced activity jars – all containing FREE activities – one jar with ideas of what we can do in good weather, and one with ideas of what we can do if its bad weather. We pick one out (depending on our first look out of the window in the morning and deciding on what we think the weather might do). These activities are all things we’ve all come up with together – in the hope that the ‘I’m BORED’ response will be kept to a minimum!
For the paid activities-we have decided in advance what these will be, what days we are going to do them and the budget we have to spend – maximise of £15 each
So we started the holidays with a paid for activity – something we’ve not done for a while – a morning of rock climbing at Rokt in Brighouse with friends. Fabulous place, we’ve been going for a couple of years now and again. Excellently priced (only £4 per child), and they have climbing facilities for children (including a wall/boulders room for the under 5’s) My kids love to climb, and have done since they could crawl (much to my dismay and often fear as I witnesses them topple over the edge of the sofa for the 100th time). What a great sense of achievement they get as they climb, whilst I try my best to smile through the anxiety of watching and praying they don’t do themselves an injury – a trip to A&E is not in the activity jars! I often wonder what is it about my children and having no sense of fear – they see it, they go for it
Today – a chillax of day – I had to work – an unfortunate interruption to holiday fun, but a necessary one for most parents – so the girls decided on a pyjama day of DVDs and Netflix ( I am eternally grateful some days for the invention of Netflix!) I left the house with them spread out on the rug, cushions and blankets, a bowl full of dry cereal and the remote control – their idea of heaven I think. I returned a couple of hours later – yep, you guessed it – practically no change in position, remote still in hand, a few more cushions here and there – and they had of course taken total advantage of being looked after by Step Dad as they were surrounding by all the usual paraphernalia that goes with DVD watching including the remnants of popcorn and Haribo. I spend probably more time than I should worrying about the amount of TV they watch, and limiting their screen time- so they feel it’s a real treat to have unlimited viewing time.
Both my girls have quite a gift for imaginative play – which means I often have to order endless cups of hot chocolate in their café’s and Grandma has often had a dozen different hairstyles – including clips, bobbles, gel and hairspray in a trip to their make believe hair salon (I am often in awe at grandmas ability to inhabit any world they create and her sense of fun at almost 70 yrs old!). To make good use of their imagination we have a plan for tomorrow- we have checked the weather forecast in advance (and if it dares to be wrong!). A family day of going on a bear hunt! One of my kids (and mine) favourite stories – So we are off in search of the bear – we are going to find a big one, but we’re not scared (for those that haven’t read the book – please do and you’ll get the reference). We will have picnic in hand, wellies on for squidging through the mud on Ilkley Moors, and hopefully big smiles and lots of laughs.
We have two weeks ahead of baking, craft making, planting (if the weather stays good!), stories, dressing up and make believe, park trips, picnics, as well as our paid outings including cinema, Sea Life at Manchester and swimming. I am determined to keep the ‘I’m BORED’ at bay and have my mantra of 5 positive acts counter act 1 negative – you never know, I might even have some positive credits built up for reserves by the end of the holidays !
What are your favourite activities, where do you like to go and do with your family – please share your ideas
Happy Easter x