Among parents of school-age children, 23% of moms and 14% of dads say that having their kid at home during the school holidays causes stress. Can you relate? Spanning 25 days (including weekends), the July school holidays is the second longest break of the school year after the 35-day stretch between December and January. “It’s no wonder then that most parents are left in a holidaze – a state of utter exhaustion – following the winter break. But with some survival strategies in place, they can make it through without going mad,” says Daniela van den Berg, a mom who is also the Head of Creative at OneDayOnly.co.za.
With the upcoming whirlwind of chaos, noise, and endless demands, she advises parents to adopt the motto of the United States Coast Guard: ‘Semper Paratus’, meaning always ready. “A little bit of planning now can help you hold onto your sanity just long enough for the kids to go back to school.”
Below, van den Berg shares some tips to help take the stress out of these school holidays:
- Put yourself in time out: Chauffeuring little ones to and from playdates, keeping tummies fed and coming up with creative activities to keep boredom at bay, can all add even more pressure on already-overwhelmed parents. Make sure you earmark some time for yourself to indulge in self-care, whether this is screaming along to heavy metal music, raiding your secret chocolate stash or savouring a glass of wine to cope with all the whining. There of course are the more traditional options like taking aromatherapy baths, journaling and meditating – but best you invest in some noise-cancelling headphones if you decide to go this route.
- Stacks of snacks: Full mouths mean less moaning and groaning so make sure you’ve stocked up on all your kids’ favourite foods. You’ll also need to ensure that you regularly replenish your personal supply (see point one).
- Get out: Although screen time means less scream time, there can be too much of a good thing. And while it might be winter, it’s important to occasionally let your offspring loose in the backyard. Research has found a connection between exposure to green spaces and better health such as lower stress levels, better vision, and a stronger immune system (remember, no one wants to have to deal with a sick child during the holidays). One way of getting older kids away from the X-box is to pay them to mow the lawn. Not only will this keep them out of your hair for a bit, but it will also give them something productive to do. Who’s bored now, Junior?
- Go low-tech: While loadshedding has lessened (for now), it is still a part of everyday life so you might need to turn to old school solutions like books and games to keep the kiddies entertained. Plus, studies have shown that not only does reading reduce stress by up to 68%, but it does so better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. As horror and crime author Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic” – but maybe don’t give your children his books to read or bedtime battles will become an even bigger nightmare for parents.
“One in five parents acknowledge that their stress levels negatively affect their child’s enjoyment of the holidays. As the kids say, don’t kill the vibe! Try and use this time to relax, unwind and bond with your children. It’s all about snatching moments of peace and joy amongst the chaos,” concludes van den Berg.
Parents can access amazing deals to help take the stress out of school holidays at https://www.onedayonly.co.za.