Holiday breaks mean many things for different families. Some families travel near and far, while others use the holiday break to kick back and stay in. No matter if you’re on the move or creating your own staycation, holiday breaks result in a lot of downtime for kids. This means there are lots of opportunities for parents to get their family reconnected and rejuvenated.
My family is always on the move during the regular work week, so we’re really excited about all of the possibilities that holiday breaks provide us. Here are a few of our tried and true ideas to make sure your child finds time for family, learning, engagement, and of course relaxation:
- Sleep in. It’s recommended that school aged children get between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night with teens getting at least 8 hours. With school activities, extracurriculars, full family schedules, and early school start times, many American children do not get enough sleep. Holiday breaks are a great opportunity to allow kids to ignore the alarm sleep. I encourage my kids to keep their regular bedtime and wake up naturally. Pro tip: Make sure you remove distractions like television or electronics from your child’s room.
- Read. Holiday breaks are a break from the daily school routine. A great way to keep your child’s mind fresh without inundating them with school work is pleasure reading. Find a few enjoyable reads for your child and encourage them to read for at least 30 minutes to an hour each day of the break. Pro tip: To encourage literary understanding, ask your child to share what happened in the story or act it out.
- Reflect. Holidays bring about time for reflection and thanksgiving. Take time to allow your child to reflect on their personal growth, and your growth as a family. Take a moment to touch base on your family values, as well as, familial and personal goals. Pro tip: As you look back and look ahead, take a moment for gratitude. What are you most thankful for?
- Play. The school year is a serious, stressful, and focused time for many kids. Use holiday breaks as an opportunity to allow your child to play. Give kids a balanced variety of play options to ensure their learning, having fun and relaxing mentally. We fill our breaks with organized sports, video games, unstructured imaginative play, and family board games. Pro tip: It’s okay for your child to be board. Fight the urge to turn the electronics on. Encourage them to use that energy toward creative and imaginative experiences.
- Flexibility. No schedule! For some that sounds amazing, for others it might be a daunting experience. My children have a moderately regimented school week schedule, so I use holiday breaks to free them from time and schedule constraints. Pro tip: Realize that you’re not going to be able to squeeze everything in. Schedule some activities but leave space open for spontaneity and mental or physical rest.
- Family Time. The holidays are a great opportunity to build lasting memories. We play family board games; take road trips; shop ’til we drop; or cook meals together. Spending time as a family unit strengthen family ties. Pro tip: Make it an annual tradition! What activity will you create that gets your kids excited each year?
- Explore. Take a moment to explore. Every city has cool civic, cultural, or artistic spaces. Use the holidays to visit some place your family has always wanted to go. Take photos, engage in conversation, share your different perspectives and opinions about the experience when it’s over. Pro tip: Keep an open mind when trying new experiences. Remember not to over schedule the time.
The holidays are a special because they provide us with a huge opportunity to create lasting memories and traditions. We encourage you to get creative with all that potential downtime- go exploring; create a new family tradition; check-in on family values and mental health; or get caught up on sleep. No matter how you plan to use your family’s holiday break time, we hope it’s time well spent!
How will you fill your family’s time this holiday break? Share your advice, tips, links, and ideas in the comments. Happy holidays!