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How to enjoy school holidays at home when there’s nowhere to go

How to enjoy school holidays at home when there’s nowhere to go

This year, huh? This #$%* year!!!!!!!! And we’re not even located in Victoria. Oh Victorians, we feel for you. Let’s hope it keeps on getting better for you, but in the meantime there are the school holidays and, let’s face it, they are already a bust. How can kids enjoy school holidays at home when home is where school days are spent too?

Here’s the thing – the main point of the school holidays (aside from giving those sainted teachers a much needed break from our cherubs) is to switch up the daily routine. Take the pressure off kids’ brains and let them have some down time, preferably outside.

Fair enough, it’s easier to do that when you’re road tripping to a week long vacay at the beach. No question about it. But even if we’re stuck at home – and possibly only home, forevermore – we can give the family a break. We can make the most of school holidays at home.

If you can get out: 50+ (mostly) free things to do in the holidays for older kids


Accept that it’s going to be a quiet one

Here’s where we demonstrate for our kids the important adage of accepting the things we cannot change. Best to settle in for a couple of quiet, slow weeks where not much happens. Sounds quite blissful, don’t you think?

The fact is, we are all too busy in our ‘real life’ anyway. It’s high time we learned how to go slow and simply let time pass without doing things.

There’s a really cool book by Rob Walker called The Art of Noticing. It was written to help creatives find their groove again, but it’s really about hitting pause and being more mindful in any moment. Click through to Rob’s Art of Noticing newsletter archives because there are a ton of fantastic ideas right there.

Quiet doesn't mean you can't enjoy school holidays at home

Keep to a mild routine

Days spent doing quiet pursuits can sometimes feel unproductive and meld into each other. Cue the “I’m boreds”. If you map out a basic routine, it will help the kids feel like they’re busy and have something to look forward to. Even older teens benefit from a bit of structure in their days, and not every kid is capable of providing that structure for themselves.

If there’s a particular activity that they love the most, schedule it for late in the day.

For many kids, this will be beloved screen time. Save that for the afternoon. So, your routine might be as simple as something like:

Morning – breakfast, chores, reading, kick a ball at the park, make something

Lunch – make lunch, eat outside, tidy up

Afternoon – walk to visit a friend, screen time, build something

Dinner – help cook dinner and set the table really nicely

Evening – watch a movie, play a game, go for a night walk, light the fire pit, read a book, start a new hobby

Light the firepit and enjoy school holidays at home

Have a list of activities up your sleeve

There’s actually plenty an older kid can do to enjoy school holidays at home. In fact, we wrote a list of more than a hundred of them

The point is, be ready with a list of at least five recommendations when you see your kid moping around complaining about how boring their life is.

Oh child, we will say, here are five things I wish I could be doing right now instead of folding this giant pile of washing.

A good trick for kids who can never find a thing to do that doesn’t involve a screen: set them up with a calendar that has three activities to do each day already in place. It will take you no time at all to do (or for them to do themselves, of course!!!), but it provides structure and ideas in one handy spot. When they whinge, refer them to the calendar.

Life is too short to do things that don't matter

Give yourself a break too

It’s all well and good for the kids to enjoy school holidays, but what about us? We need a break too – probably way more than the kids do (but not as much as the teachers, surely).  The trouble with an ‘at home’ holiday is that, well, we’re at home. All the mess and lack of organisation and flawed systems and all the junk we wish we hadn’t bought in the first place is right. there. holidaying. with. us.

The only way through it is to give yourself permission to ignore the lot. Or treat yourself to a cleaner a couple of times that week (we’re saving money on holidays, right?). Get takeaway every single night. Head to the beach, bush, river or park. String up a hammock far away from the house. Do what you need to do to get some proper holiday-like downtime. More on taking a week off in the middle of it all here.

How do you plan to spend the school holidays at home?

Feature image by Silvia Lanfranchi; caterpillar by Krysten Merriman; Fire by Michael Aleo; calendar by Manasvita S