People photo created by cookie_studio - www.freepik.com
School holidays are always the most awaited event on the calendar for every school-going child (us included when we were that age). The reasons are pretty simple for that little mind -
No school –> no classes –> basically no studies!
The fun time that they eagerly await after finishing school and home assignments is barely a few hours. Now with the school closed, that time gets extended to…well…the whole day! What luck, they think.
While the kids are rejoicing and planning in their heads all that they would do during school break, this is what moms are thinking -
No school –> no classes –> few hours of fun time (TV/games/self-play/with sibling) –> boredom setting in –> constant complaints of “I’m bored” or “Why don’t you play with me?” –> fighting with sibling/mom –> yelling/crying
A common and perfectly normal scenario in most households where kids are on school break. And this time around, things are bound to be slightly different. The COVID scare still looms over our heads. In some parts of the world, temperatures have dropped to an all-time low.
Kids might just have to manage staying indoors for most part of the day. After the initial excitement of a break from school wears off, they would start feeling bored, dull, tired and lethargic; extended hours of TV watching and gaming only adds to these problems.
How to limit screen time for kids? How to keep them engaged all through the school break? With limited outdoor trips and activities this season, how to ensure that the kids stay happy sitting home?
5 Tips to Engage Kids This Winter Break
You definitely don’t want them to be watching too much TV, play games on the mobile, or worst, fight with the sibling all the time. So here’s how you can avoid all of this and try ensure that both you and them have a peaceful and happy school break:
1. Set a schedule
I know this is the last thing your child would want during the school holidays. They’re fed up of following the same schedule every day - waking up early morning, getting ready for school or attending classes from home (in case they’re learning online in the current scenario), taking short breaks in between and getting back to studies.
They must be so looking forward to enjoying life without a schedule! So this time you can make a schedule for them but without letting them know.
Try and ensure that they wake up around the same time as usual in the morning (perhaps an extended half an hour of sleep should be fine). Waking up early morning has its own advantages for both children and adults. Make them start their day with some physical activity/exercise.
It could be any activity of their choice - jumping jacks, skipping, on-the-spot jogging (if at home). If you have a garden/terrace, engage them in playing some football/any of their other favorite sport.
Physical activity early morning charges up the mind and body so it actually works great for both you and your child. Besides, include this activity in the evening also.
When they’re exposed to the TV/phone screen for a long time during the day, you might notice that they start getting irritable/feel lethargic. This is when they need to release that negative energy and refill positive one. Physical activity helps here.
Apart from exercise, schedule times for other stuff they enjoy through the day (again you don’t have to let them know that there’s a schedule in place). Include time for TV watching and gaming too (limited as per your choice and what you deem is enough for the child).
Keep time for creative play - give them colors, paints, paper, or any other craft material, and let them explore, imagine and create.
If you can sit with them, great! If you can’t, no problem. Just let them think and create stuff on their own. Give them clay, ask them to make something and come show you. The moment you say, “Make it and Mumma’s waiting to see what you did!", they’d be so excited to finish the task quick and flaunt their creation.
You can make your own schedule depending on what your child likes doing and anything that you know will keep their mind off the screen for longer. But a schedule actually helps so you know what to do after what and they wouldn’t come behind you complaining, “Oh! I’m bored.”
‘Me time’ for kids is equally important. It puts their imaginative and creative mind to play.
2. Give them some tasks to help around (trust me, they’d love helping you)
The biggest compliment you can give a child is how helpful he/she is in the house. You say this and see how a big broad smile comes on their face. They start feeling so proud in their hearts of how good a child they are to their parents when they hear the latter complimenting them before others.
What else do they gain in the process? Something to do! Something which will keep them off the “I’m bored” track for some time in the day. And it’s a complete win-win for you because you get a helping hand, your work finishes faster and maybe you’d be able to spare some time to spend with them too.
It could be as small as drying the dishes, folding laundry, pulling out weeds in the kitchen garden, cleaning dust on the dining table - just about anything you feel they can do appropriate to their age and which would ease off your load by finishing a few tasks on your to-do list for the day.
Assigning your kids tasks would keep their mind busy and they wouldn’t even find time to fight/quarrel among each other.
3. Give them a change sometimes
So your kids are going to be confined at home for most part of the day this winter and being in the same setting is bound to make them irritable. You need to change the scenery once in a while.
It could be something as simple as taking them to a park nearby when it’s sunny outside. If that isn’t the case (like places where it snows and the weather’s freezing), get the child out and just let them play in the snow.
Just stepping out of the house and feeling fresh air touch your face is enough to clear the head. So look for places where you can take them out comfortably (preferably at a time when there aren’t too many people owing to the Corona scare).
4. Spend just 10-15 minutes with your kids
I know this may sound difficult at times but just 10 minutes of your busy schedule can give your kids immense joy and recharge them! Yes, it works this way. So you’re either working from home or finishing household chores and your kid’s playing on their own or with a sibling. Now, if you take a 10-minute break and sit and play with them, it makes them feel wanted, special and loved.
The result - they’re happy. After 10 minutes when you say, “Mumma needs to get back to work but she’ll come again for 10 minutes later,” they might make a long face at first. You try this everyday and they’d understand. They’d even start looking forward to the next 10 minutes you can spare for them.
Also, if you have more than one child, make sure you have a one-on-one personal time with each of them during the day sometime. Each child is different with their different needs. So make them feel loved differently. Perhaps you can sit with both or all of them together the first time and the second time, when you’re relatively free for the day, give them individual time each.
Just talking to them, asking them how their day’s going, and also playing with them would keep their mind off unwanted evil stuff :)
And yes, don’t forget to incorporate some “me time” for your child in their schedule. This means the time they’re free to do/enjoy whatever they like, apart from whatever activities you may have planned for them.
Of course, this doesn’t always mean letting them watch TV/mobile. Perhaps they may just want to sit by themselves, read a book, sit in the balcony, or just do any other silly (but not dangerous) stuff.
Just let them be. ‘Me time’ for kids is actually very important just like it is for us adults. A time when they don’t have anybody nagging them or pushing them to do one task after the other. And you’d be surprised to see all that they can come up with in that time. Of course you might have to try this for a few days as a practice and then see the results for yourself.
That ‘me time’ nurtures the child’s brain and makes them want to explore stuff, reason things out, even ask questions. Or, it may make them want to do things creative like just draw whatever they feel deep within - basically vent out their innermost feelings through the expression of art. It’s actually amazing and I totally recommend this time for all kids.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
5. Keep some learning time too
How much ever your child would want to be away from books at the moment, you know that you need to keep that learning curve going. But here’s a fun twist. You don’t have to make them study from their school textbooks. Instead, keep the same learning intact through other fun materials.
You’d find plenty of storybooks with morals or even coloring books which come with some meaningful stories a child can learn from. Then there are worksheets available for free download online which have lots of interesting activities for children of all ages.
Get some puzzle books, lots of them actually. Trust me, you’d be tempted to solve one of them yourself! Actually, you could think of such activities in your 10-minute interaction time with your child where you could read books together or solve a quick puzzle, read a joke from one of the joke books or look at a riddle together.
This way, you get a break from your chores and your child gets to exercise their left side of the brain too. How’s that? :)
School holidays are meant to be fun, literally, and you can actually keep the fun going by trying out some of these tips for your child this time around. Let them have fun, enjoy. The points in this blog are meant to help out parents have some fun too! We too deserve it, right? After all, it’s the holiday season, guys! And yes, I know that moms never get a day off but we all can squeeze in to the fun times with our kids and enjoy too. Happy holidays!
(If you found the post helpful, don’t forget to share it with others to help them have fun school holidays with their kids. For more such posts, follow me on social media. And yes, do subscribe to my blog to receive regular posts directly in your inbox.