Let’s be positive, although it hasn’t been the greatest start to the Easter break weather-wise there is still something special about having a 2 week break. This is a time away from formal learning to let children relax and try something a bit different from their term time routine. It doesn’t have to cost anything or be exotic to make a positive difference to a child’s wellbeing. Here’s my happy holidays checklist for free activities which are not only fun but good for you. All are informed by research into wellbeing. So have not just a happy holiday but a flourishing one too.
Laugh – life can get too serious at times and we all need to reconnect with the lighter side of life. Tell jokes, watch a comedy or have a silly walk competition. When we get too busy or absorbed in doing our own thing the chance to connect and share laughter can take a back seat.
Get physical – a walk in green space lifts the spirits but if you can’t get out today put on some music and dance. A kick about in some open space needn’t take up too much of the day but raising the heart rate is so good for you.
Use your hands – there’s something deeply satisfying about making things. It doesn’t have to be artsy or messy play (both of which are fun) but could be cooking or planting something to create something useful or beautiful.
Use your head – enter imaginary worlds with a book or a listen to an audio book. Building up pictures in your mind of characters and places is deeply satisfying but also a skill which needs to be nurtured. Schools rarely have time to let children settle into something and stay with it. Watching TV or a DVD or using video games doesn’t count here because the images are ready made.
Take turns to choose – children value their independence and having some responsibility. The fast paced adult world risks sweeping children along with a well-intentioned “it’s good for you to do this now don’t argue”. Holidays are a great time for choosing and learning from that decision.
Learn to manage boredom – the ability to manage yourself effectively, known as self-regulation, won’t develop adequately unless there is the time and space to make decisions. Sometimes when nothing immediately comes to mind boredom creeps into the gap. Don’t be tempted to jump in with suggestions, equally do expect your child to make a decision and act on it.
Ignore the weather get outside – there’s no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothing. Not sure who said this but children don’t care as long as they are somewhere they can get busy. The National Trust’s 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4 is a good source of ideas.
Share chores – use the time saved by speedy completion of life’s necessities to do something together. Little ones probably need the reward of getting together straight after to play a game but older ones appreciate that working together all week can make more time for weekend fun.
Contact a friend – term time is very sociable but families can become a bit isolated in the holidays especially if you assume that everyone else is doing something out of the ordinary. Meet at the park or invite someone to play round at your home.
Give something to others– taking care of others outside the family can be linked to organised charities or be local support of an elderly neighbour. Children learn empathy, kindness and gratitude from regular small acts of kindness.
Boost your positivity ratio – we all need to experience life through a positive lens. A ratio of 3 things we value positively to 1 event which challenged us a little is the tipping point. More is better but 3 to 1 is a realistic goal. You may have noticed that I emphasised how we see life as the key, optimism or pessimism alters our interpretation of events. We all know someone whose glass is always half full and they are neither happy nor easy company. For more on positivity and building optimism this earlier post explores this in more detail
Try something new – holidays are about a break in routine and broadening horizons. It needn’t be a big event or cost money – walk a different way to the park, try a new food, play a new game or make one up. Novelty is stimulating and fun and encourages to think along different lines.
Revisit old memories – sometimes the new and the busy keep our eyes fixed forward to the horizon. Take time to share memories. Look through those family photos. What have we done that was fun? Where did we go that was special? Who did we meet? What made us laugh?
Savour what you do and take time to make new memories. Being mindful of experience makes it more likely we will appreciate what happens and that it will find a treasured space in our memory banks.
Happy holidays everyone