Come March and parents (well, mothers mostly) have a task on hand. How do we keep the children engaged for a meaningful summer vacation? The two plus months are challenging because mother’s usually need to work out a way to keep the energy and enthusiasm channelized. So here are some ideas that can help you do just that.
Set Ground Rules
Holidays should be fun days but with some very important ground rules especially when it comes to food, sleep and screen time. Likewise, travel holidays can be a very enjoyable time if planned well. “Start a holiday trip after one or two weeks of preparation and return one or two weeks before school begins. Avoid big changes in schedule and activities between school and holidays periods and involve kids in planning a part of the holiday like a list of things to carry for the trip and bring back or researching about the place of visit. This will teach them responsibility,” avers Pradeep G Gowda, Yoga format, Curefit. Also do ensure that children complete their school assignments in the beginning itself. Do encourage children to write about their summer experiences and ensure the same sleep and eating schedules are maintained. Also ensure that you set limits on screen time with mobiles, iPads, TV and video games.
Choose an Activity
Summer camps are all over the place during holidays so it is important to choose wisely. Parents can try and curate a range of activities for the summer. “These should include five key aspects – social development (activities that need team work or collaboration), physical development, sensory based activities (discovery and exploration), self-help skills (basic skills- stitching, cooking, organising etc) and creativity (performing arts, visual arts),” explains Noopur Kanchan, Founder and Chief Mentor, iLEAP Academy Pvt. Ltd. Nimish Kenia, Founder, Happy Planet adds, “motor skill development activities like rugged rock climbing, rope courses or any sport like swimming and cycling need to be on top of the list. Also engaging in these means staying fit especially in today junk food dominated obese world. A combination of physical as well as mental development activities would work best.” Alternately you can teach children good eating habits. You can start by asking the child of a certain dish that they would love to eat at home provided that they will be helping you make the dish. Then split the tasks and cook together. “Another way to keep them engaged is allotting one day of the week to trying a new food dish. It could be a new cuisine or a new dish of an already tried cuisine. This new food introduction helps in building the child’s palate and aids them in acquiring new tastes. You will see that they will spend at least a few hours searching for that new dish they would like to try,” says Neeti Sarin, Founder, Tiffin’s Etc.
Holidays are a time to and with family and visiting cousins and grandparents should be encouraged as this builds a sense of belonging, bonding and caring for the older people. Involve kids in the conversation. Priyanka Khanna who blogs at Fussy Hungry Mamma says, “talking to the children and telling them about their free time they have as school will be shut and friends will be traveling so they know what they have to look forward to. They can also express their wants and ideas to balance their time wisely. They could express which activities they are interested in and would enjoy through this conversation.” Avi Keswani, Co-founder and Director, LISAA School of Design adds, “community activities can keep your child engaged in extracurricular activities which are organized by the community or school. Organize some play dates where you can plan and invite friends over. While they spend time with their friends it may give you the opportunity to get some work done and perhaps even connect with other parents. Have a ‘chill day’ as kids will also need some downtime. Make sure you plan some days where you just chill, watch some movies, read some books and take it easy.”
Holidays are a good time to help children understand the need to care for the environment. Teaching kids about the importance of planting trees, composting, disposing plastic, water harvesting and water conservation are good life skills too. Dr. Ruby Ahuja, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Paras Bliss Panchkula says, “it is very important for children to connect with our natural surroundings. You can take the children to nature walk in nearby areas or picnic spots. Children can also connect with nature by helping the gardener grow vegetables and new plants.” Also use this time for periodic health checkups whether it is eye health, moving from spectacles to contacts, oral health or skin and bowel conditions. So well there you have it – have fun in the sun this summer!
- Children can make a list of ‘Must Dos’ that they want to do during the summer vacations.
- Too many instructional classes and camps should be avoided.
- Understanding the needs of the children is paramount.
- Be a mentor to your child.
- Avoid conflicts. Arguments are good, conflicts are bad.
- Ensure child safety at all times.
This story appeared in the April issue of New Woman Magazine here: 42-44 No Kidding- Summer Vacation