Does the thought of the upcoming summer holiday season fill you with delight or dread?
Apparently two-thirds of parents dread the holidays as they don’t know how to keep their children occupied. If you are a working parent, then your problems multiply from arranging leave at peak times to finding childcare – it means the thought of the 8-week school summer holiday for parents can be something that fills you with fear.
So, if you are already dreading, how you limit screen time,the extra cooking and cleaning from children being at home all day, how to get them outside during the weeks ahead, family arguments when everyone is together, not to mention the added expense or shorts and T-shirts, meals out and day trips of holidays abroad.
Then some advice – keep it simple but do plan with at least 1 key event every week. Sit down with your children this week, and brainstorm a number of things you are going to do this summer – a mixture or free or cheap things. You don’t need to break the bank as happiness is linked more to relationships than money. Anyone who says otherwise has never seen a child play with a big empty box!
Together write your summer holiday to do list and stick it on the fridge. Get the children to cross them out as you do them, it will be great fun. They will watch the list and keep you on track. Try a weekly event like a picnic or a day on a beach or a treasure hunt for sea glass, shells, rock pools seaweed etc. Don’t compare what other children are getting. Some parents spend thousands on foreign holidays and argue for 2 weeks while others have their happiest days in the park or gardening together, so what if it turns into a water fight with the hose. Happiness is linked to outside and nature and getting fresh air so don’t watch your children having fun, join in and laugh and smile, They will always remember that!
Remember that even though you have a busy schedule, setting boundaries in our lives is the only way to ensure we stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually. Jesus Himself set boundaries around his time. In Mark 4:35-40, it tells us,
‘That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?‘Mark 4:35-40
Lastly, remember the phrase, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Playdates can be a great way of parents supporting each other and avoiding, ‘I’m bored’, ‘can I watch TV?’ When your relatives or friends offer to help, say ‘Yes’ and take an odd break. You will deserve it and will return home to your beautiful children refreshed and very glad you have them. Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus spent time with those He loved. He spent weeks on end traveling with His disciples. Of course, they did ministry together and even performed miracles but Jesus also went to weddings, visited His mother and his friend Lazarus and Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus was a man who not only understood the importance of spending time with those He loved, He modelled it throughout His time on earth.
Canon Francis Brown and the clergy of Newry Cathedral Parish would like to wish you and your family a safe happy holiday this summer. May you return from any activities feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. God Bless.
Adapted from BBC Radio Ulster Thought for the Day.