The school holidays are a great opportunity to spend quality time with our kids, enjoying each others company and exploring new passions. It is also a time of discovering adventure without the stress of having to pack school lunches for hyper-critical mini food snobs, whose food likes and dislikes are as consistent as Melbourne’s weather, the mad school morning rush, drop offs and pick ups, homework (oh, the homework!) and the numerous after school extra-curricular activities. The holidays are a welcomed and much needed relief that allow for lazy, slow mornings, flexibility, and plenty of rest and relaxation. However, school holidays can also entail an increase in – often irrational – sibling rivalry and arguments (“stop breathing my air!” ) as each child strives to reassert themselves and their boundaries. Add to this perpetually hungry kids whose mantra “I’m bored, what are we doing today?” starts to grate after hearing it for the 39th time. You realise very quickly, that without some pre-planning, school holidays can be all out warfare!
Below is a list of simple school holiday planning tips that will, In sha Allah, result in a positive, relaxed, and beneficial time for all.
1. Create a chart for kids with a list of roles and responsibilities that must be completed by the end of each day. This may include:
Chores such as dusting, vacuuming, dinner prep
Helping a family member or neighbour with a task
An arts and crafts activity
Spending time outdoors
You can add as many or as few as you like! However, it is important to stay flexible and take into consideration any outings you may have planned.
2. Remember that the holidays are a great opportunity to introduce new dua, hadith, surahs, and to revise. With no school or homework, kids have plenty of time to spend learning and revising. Be creative. Utilise the numerous fun, quality, interactive resources available online to teach and instill a love of the deen in our children’s hearts.
3. Book kids into a school holiday program with a focus on deen. Alhamdulilah, there are many quality programs available that include science, art, and sporting activities that also incorporate Islamic values and teachings.
4. Organise outings. You do not have to spend the holidays trekking around town all day, every day. Exorbitant entry fees and irritable, hungry kids, do not make for an enjoyable day. Have a discussion with the kids and find out what kind of activities the kids are keen to get involved with.
One of my kids favourite things to do is venture into the City. To make the trip even more exciting, we catch the train in and spend the day visiting numerous attractions. We walk around, point out the tall buildings, ride a free tram, visit the NGV, State Library, Federation square, Artplay, Birrarung Mar, BotanicalGardens, or any of the laneways to check out street art. The options are endless! Make sure to bring a packed lunch, plenty of water, and comfortable shoes, and you are set for a low cost, family friendly day filled with exploration and adventure.
A day out does not have to be fancy or involve spending a heap of money. Many kids are happy to ride their bikes to the park or down the road, or take their bucket and spade to a beach and build sandcastles.
5. I always like to incorporate activities that encourage sociability and community awareness. Contact your mum-friends and organise a garage or bake sale with proceeds going to a favoured charity. Kids can get involved by making signs, baking, and prepping the space for the sale. Alternatively, you can register them as volunteers with a local charity organisation. Halal Food bank and Community Care Network do excellent work within the community!
6. Let them be bored – this is a good thing. It encourages creativity and imagination and teaches them excellent life skills such as problem solving, inventiveness, and observation.
7. Enjoy your kids. Enjoy extra long hugs and kisses. Enjoy never ending conversations about nothing and everything. Enjoy the endless nonsensical questions. Enjoy deepening your love and connection with your child by listening – not talking, not answering, but asking questions of them. Ask their opinion on life, love, passions, and fears. Although it may be a cliche, in the big scheme of things, they are only this small for a relatively short period of time, and there will be a time when we will reminisce on the present with much fondness and nostalgia.
A group of mothers who meet up on a weekly basis to remember Allah SWT and help each other to navigate through the struggles of being a young Muslim mother in this society.