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How to Stop Feeling Like a Guilty Parent in the School Holidays

By: Rachel Doherty

The parent guilt of letting teenagers and children spend the school holidays glued to a screen is real. But what’s wrong with letting our kids be a little lazy?

Our school holidays seem to follow a predictable pattern. My husband and I work, and the kids hang out at home on the couch watching television or playing computer games. It’s hard to avoid feeling the guilt.

Why do I feel guilty?

When I stop and think about it, this guilt comes from comparing myself to others. I see those photos on Facebook, or hear what friends are doing and realise we’ve got nothing planned. Well our kids don’t.

Parents, we need to stop this comparison game. We need to get on with living our own lives. Not everyone has a fabulous trip every school holidays. Plenty of other families have a day ahead just like yours.

Guilt is a negative emotion that comes from doing something wrong. But what’s wrong with kids having some down time, being lazy for a few days and doing things they enjoy?

How to let kids live a little in the school holidays

With a little thought, I’ve realised the school holidays should be all about balance. But not the sort of balance where kids do an equal amount of everything. We want our kids to do a mix of things, but if they do one thing a lot, we don’t need to beat ourselves up about it.

It’s called a holiday after all.

As kids get further through high school, the work is harder and the school day is more demanding. It does them good to be lazy in the holidays and have some choices about how they spend their time. But we still do have some limits.

The 5 S’s to keep in mind during the holidays:

Sunshine. We need to push our kids outdoors for a while, even when it’s overcast. If it’s raining, they can find somewhere to hang out under cover that still gives them some fresh air. Apart from all the health benefits, the change of scenery is good for their mind.

Sweat. My kids are active during term time, but I know that they also need to keep moving during the holidays too. 30 minutes is a good number to aim for, but it doesn’t have to be all in one hit. And the more vigorous the activity the better.

Socialise. School holidays are a great time to catch up with family and friends. But it’s also a chance to make time for one another. Dig out a board game, head off for a bike ride or meet up at the shops to break up that screen time.

Snooze. Make the holidays a time of rest. Whether they sleep in a bit or have an afternoon doze. Slow down the pace of life so kids have a chance to get ready for another big term of school.

Serve. There’s a lot of jobs that need doing to keep a house running and these usually fall to the parents. My days aren’t any less busy in the school holidays, yet my teenagers can spend all day doing nothing. I have to get better at reminding them to help out more. So many simple but time-absorbing jobs could be theirs. Hanging and folding the washing. Cleaning up the kitchen, which seems to fill up with all their plates and cups. Tidying their rooms and sorting through all their papers. Even giving the floors and bathrooms a once over would all help.

There’s nothing wrong with kids being lazy in the school holidays. So let’s ditch the guilt and stop comparing ourselves to everyone else. I bet they’re feeling just as inadequate and overburdened too.

And before you know it, we’ll all be on that ‘back to school’ treadmill. If you’re needing some inspiration, check out my article on how to get ready for a terrific term.

What do you think? How do you make holidays work in your house?

Article supplied with thanks to Tweens 2 Teen.

About the Author: Rachel Doherty helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.

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