Planning for the holidays

Asha from Parent Hacks sent us this great hack

Guest Post

Asha Holiday plans

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.

6 Responses to “Planning for the holidays”

  1. Susie

    Thanks for all of your suggestions! I love it so much when my kids are home from school for the holidays. In the fall when we get the calendar, I scan it just to see how much time we have off for Christmas break!

  2. jen

    It’s the beginning of our summer holidays here and unfortunately I have to work part of them, but my son is really looking forward to putting the tent up and sleeping in it. That will take up some of the time. I’m sure he’ll play in it also. And little does he know that ‘Santa’ is bringing him some camping bits and pieces.

  3. Nutmeg

    I love this idea! We need to do everything on that list too. Thanks so much for such a wonderful site!

  4. Veronique

    Excellent timing for me to read this little bit of advice. My vacationing kids are both just a little bit under the weather — making a list of activities is the perfect, um, activity.

  5. Marykz

    one of my daughter’s friends did the pinecone bird feeders as a birthday party activity. It was fabulous. The kids had a great time making them, they were practically free (pinecones from back yard, jumbo jar of penut butter, cheap birdseed), and the birds loved it. It is bare already and she wants to re-do it! (Thanks to my Mom for finding this site for me- Love it!)

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