Asha from Parent Hacks sent us this great hack
Today is Day 1 of my kids’ school holidays (which, in America, is generally two weeks). And while we’ve got plenty of holiday-related plans with friends and family, there are still many unfilled hours in the days ahead. I, for one, am happy to shelve the backpacks and early mornings for a little while, but I know that, without a little structure to punctuate our pajama-lounging, fireside-reading afternoons, we’ll all go stark raving mad.
Here’s what I did over the summer to balance our free/busy time, and it worked well, so I’m repeating the process in a smaller way for the winter break. I sat down with my kids (7 and 3) and made a list of everything big or little we wanted to do over the break. Everything.
Our list starts out like this:
1. Go to the snow
2. Make a gingerbread house
3. Build a fire in the fireplace
4. Make a pinecone birdfeeder
5. Walk around the neighborhood looking at lights
After we had a good list, we took out the wall calendar and penciled each item in. If you have more ideas than days in your vacation — no problem. This is a good exercise in prioritizing. I then decided on a basic rhythm for each day. I hesitate to say “routine” or “schedule” as it’s more flexible than that, but having a predictable sense of what to expect each day makes it so much easier for my kids to transition out of (and back into) school.
In our case, the “rhythm” looks a lot like it does when school’s in session, with the exception of an extra blessed hour of sleep in the morning. The day begins with breakfast, bed-making and tooth- brushing, and is then followed by an activity from the list. Then lunch, quiet time, possibly another short activity, dinner, family playtime, then bed. We try to schedule day-long activities (such as going to the snow) between shorter, at-home activities to maintain our sanity. And we toss the schedule completely when something spontaneous and exciting comes up (impromptu visits, last-minute parties with folks we care about).
I find that mapping out our vacation in this way makes us all happier, and, in the end, better rested and ready for a new year.