The holiday season is drawing near. And for some, like us, it's already here! Yikes! How did that happen?
The good news is that it means everyone can take a break from the usual routines of running from sport and extra curricular activities to music lessons and concerts, and if we are lucky enough, we can hang up our chaffeur's hat for a couple of weeks. But it does mean that the days can feel rather long and slow and I'm sure the words "I'm bored" are not far from many teenagers' lips.
We are hanging around for the most part of the holidays and have been a bit concerned about how much time our kids will be glued to the screen. So we had to do put together a bit of a plan. Here are 5 of our top tips to a screen-free holiday with your teens.
#1 Set clear expectations
Explain to your teens that being on their screens all day, every day of the holidays is not an option. Ask for their input and get them to put together a proposal or have a discussion on what they think is a fair trade for some screen time. Our kids included things like finishing their music practice as well as their usual responsibilities that they need to do around the house eg. making their beds, keeping their rooms tidy, tidying their desk etc. We also discussed as a family that playing a game together on a game console or watching a movie or tv show together won't eat into their personal screen-time. In the end, all three of our kids decided that one hour was a fair amount of personal screen time each day.
#2 Have a plan
During the school term, kids' lives are filled with activity, almost from the moment they open their eyes until they fall asleep. So it's a bit unrealistic for them to know how to fill all those extra hours they have during the holidays. That's where we come in. Help them with ideas on how they can fill their time. Remind them about some of the things they enjoy doing. Give them examples of projects they could do. Book them into activities they don't usually get the opportunity to do during the term. Let them have a friend over. For example, one of our daughters has decided to sew an apron and to also make some little felt animals. Our girls will attend a workshop at the RSPCA in a couple of weeks and our son attended a song writing workshop. Our kids also started a tradition of individually cooking a three course meal for the family every holiday break, a challenge inspired by Masterchef.
#3 Get out and about
Even though we are home during the holidays, it doesn't mean we can't head out and sight see our beautiful city. Admittedly, the weather here in Sydney is not great right now as we are in the middle of a huge bushfire crisis (thank you to all the RFS workers and volunteers who are tirelessly fighting the raging fires) but there is still so much to see whether it's your city's tourist attractions, walking tracks, museums or art galleries.
#4 Find someone to help
We hit Christmas in two weeks time, so it's actually the perfect time to open our kids' eyes to just how much they have and all they can be grateful for. There are so many others who are less fortunate than us. Christmas is a great time to volunteer to assist a charity, who are often extra busy over this period, or to visit a nursing home to bring cheer to those who don't have loved ones to visit them. We have booked the family in to do some volunteer work, helping prepare meals for those much less fortunate than us. It may even be as simple as baking some cookies and writing a nice card to the neighbours in your street.
#5 Be an example
As someone with an online store, this is a hard tip for me to follow. But how can I expect my kids to be off-screen if I am constantly on-screen myself? Of course, they do know that sometimes that my screen time is work time, but I'm going to make an extra effort to set aside screen-free time to spend with the kids, whether it's to read a book or to hang out with them around a board game. Because the holiday season isn't really about presents, but rather being present with others.
How will you be spending your holidays?