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Barely surviving school holidays? Here are my tips

by Leo Wiles
05 July 2019

Early starts, late nights and speedwriting during naps were all strategies I used when my children were little, in order to punch out copy and meet deadlines. And I was rather proud of myself for making it work, right up until Bear my youngest went off to kindy (cue sigh of relief).

That feeling lasted right up until the first chasm of school holidays – and now, with my eldest in year six and able to stay up in my night owl space, and Bear waking before first light with no nap time to save me, surviving school holidays has entailed creating a whole new bag of tricks.

The planning form

One thing that has saved all of us is my school holidays planning form. It all begins with a family meeting two weeks out from their end of term. Each child fills in a form that asks the following: what they would like to read, one meal they would like to eat, two play dates, a sleepover they want and one experience they would like to have.

I’ve found my ‘form’ reduces the meltdowns, and enables me to show them a tangible wall diary that has vacation care (my workdays) punctuating the fun stuff: an outing to the latest Spiderman film, the Big Boing and what feels like an endless round of high octane catch-ups.

Organising our time this way also shows me where I need to be fully present, such as yesterday’s Lasertag. It also helps me carve out time for paperwork, phone calls and writing – while surrounded by a gaggle of children conducting various Nerf wars and Lego competitions with friends.

Boredom busters and snacks

While my ‘form’ isn’t failsafe and I still find myself umpiring arguments and holding multiple conversations while trying to unwind in the shower, it certainly helps most of the fractious behaviour.

But I also rely on a large jar of boredom buster ideas that include things like: ‘read your book’, ‘do a drawing’, ‘play Dragonquest’ and ‘build a Lego city’.

I also lean heavily on a cupboard and fridge full of prepared snacks – all in the hope of being able to stay in the writing flow (if I actually manage to get to my keyboard).

How are you surviving school holidays with the kids underfoot? I’d love to hear your strategies in the comments.

Leo Wiles

Leo Wiles has worked as an editor, journalist and PR for over 20 years before recently retraining as a photographer. These days, she spends her time behind a lens, juggling her own clients with her work at Rachel's List, and her three gorgeous but lively kids.

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