Nanny McTreehugger, guest blogger
Wow, the winter school holidays are almost upon us. What happened to these last two school terms? These days it feels as if the holidays are almost as long as the terms! So how do you survive them, the cost of school holidays? How do you survive the burden of economical commitments whilst also surviving three long weeks with kids? How do you survive the challenge of pleasing kids whilst also meeting the expectations of parents?
Further Reading: School Holidays: 10 Things The Kids Are Looking Forward To
Ok, maybe I’m a little envious of the kids. But wait, am I? I remember the holidays used to fly by when I was a kid. I would make the most of them and I didn’t necessarily need to be taken places to be kept occupied. I had the world’s biggest Barbie doll collection and a “floor-drobe” of dolls clothes that would make the Kardashians weep. By that I mean genuine tears, not the “paparazzi tears”.
The Cost Of Occupying Kids
My point is that while in no way do I begrudge my charges their long holidays, I have noticed that we often find ourselves half way through and the kids are already bored. It’s most likely because they are so used to rigorous school schedules and before, during and after school extra curricular activities. Their time is pre-organised and planned for them. Which means when they have time to themselves, they swing between moments of whining about being bored or hungry or feeling disenfranchised over the delegation of equitable leisure time spent on the computer, iPad and TV. Sometimes it seems they’re so upset that their actions look set to stage a riot.
The Financial Cost
What’s more, school holidays are expensive! Traditional kid-friendly activities such as movies, bowling, laser tag and shopping centre entertainment have one sole purpose, to leech your wallets faster than a Dyson vacuum. Think kids want to be taken to the bowling alley to bowl? No way, it’s more a matter of them halfheartedly tolerating one game of bowling in order to make their pilgrimage to the biggest money sucker of all; the games room. That mecca of addictive token-operated virtual speedways and other old school stuff like table hockey, foosball, mini basketball hoops, and the dreaded claw machine. This contraption, along with its buddies the gumball and small toy dispensers (which at least guarantee you something for your coins) are the scourge of the retail world, the Venus flytrap of shopping centres, movie theatres and play gyms.
The Cost Of Meeting Expectations
To be honest, in some ways it was easier when I had more say in what we do during the school holidays. Because in the past few months the kids’ parents, who are very goal driven, have been quite insistent that they [the kids] make use of their time constructively. They’re given weekly goals they must achieve. No TV is allowed during the week, there are expectations placed upon mandatory exercise and a strong push for them to pursue intellectual pursuits. This translates to me being obliged to pack up the kids and trek them through university campuses, museums and other ‘intellectual’ places of interest. Mind you, museums are fun. Ask the kids and so too is the gift shop.
The Cost Of Balancing The Books
Personally, I believe we should enjoy some balance between activities and “chill time”. I’m all for letting kids be kids. Do I want them lolling around doing nothing but whine and tattle for almost three weeks? No. More specifically, the answer to that is a clear “I’d rather be dragged off by my fingernails by a flock of hungry magpies”.
So how have I learned to balance the parents’ wishes whilst also appeasing tired children? How have I learned to survive the cost of school holidays?
The answer? Well it’s still a work in progress. But in the interim, I’ve attempted to find that perfect compromise between free entertainment and allowing the kids a bit of a concession. We’re on a mission to find material gain that does not cost the earth. Think two dollar shops for example. Although just make sure the one you visit has a quick exit to the car park so you can be on your way to the non-coin operated outside world.
So as we gear up for the upcoming winter school holidays, the majority of us frantically trying to fill three weeks of kid appropriate activities, I’m on a mission to help you out. Join me next week when I share my list of things to do in and around Sydney with kids. It’s set to be a list of kid-friendly activities to appease both kids and parents, whilst also keeping the supervising adults in good spirits!
What’s your usual school holiday routine? Do you dread them or wait with fevered anticipation for the long days no longer subject to school routines and extra curricular scheduling?
*Please feel free to email me at NannyMctreehugger@gmail.com with any suggestions, queries or just general expressions of empathy!
For more on Nanny McTreehugger, you can read her previous guest post adventures with kids in A Modern Day Nanny. For more on school holiday fun, here’s 10 Things The Kids Are Looking Forward To These School Holidays.