School Holiday Survival Kit – In a Wet, Chilly Autumn

Photography: Fran Jorgensen Photography | www.franjorgensen.com

By Lucia Laubscher

Throughout New Zealand kids are on their first term break, two weeks of sleeping in and late mornings begin for stay-at-home mums around the country…or so we wish. I will be clear from the start – I have no perspective or opinion on how to survive the holidays for mums who work. I know that it must be just as hard and/or fun for working parents everywhere to get through holidays, but I don’t have the first clue as to what those would be, so please, understand that this specific holiday kit is for the parents that are able to take off work during the holidays or who stay at home full- or part-time.

For someone who recently migrated from South Africa to Auckland, autumn weather over here feel very much like winter weather in South Africa, so our family is still in the process of acclimatizing to life in wet, chilly weather. In South Africa we pretty much hibernate for the couple of days a year we get chilly and wet weather together. Not all of South Africa really, but Nelspruit is a rather warm town throughout the year. So, I’ve had to come up with a bit of a list of things to keep mummy or daddy and kids sane and happy while we acclimatize…

  • Stay in bed! As a stay-at-home mum it really does mean that I can sleep in a little bit longer than usual, as I don’t have to do the school run. I’ve got 4 girls, aged between 10 years and 20 months. I’ve taught my kids to help themselves when it comes to breakfast – I’m just not a morning person before a decent cup of coffee, and they’re hungry before I’ve had coffee. Hey, they are more than capable of helping themselves to some breakfast, so I can get an extra hour to read/sleep in bed. And that’s one of the first things I do in miserable weather during the holidays…take that extra hour in bed in the mornings. Because it makes for a more prepared me for the rest of the day with kiddos at home.
  • Don’t feel guilty. As mums, we all feel guilty for some reason or other, whether it is because we feel like we have no clue how to parent, or someone has a different way of parenting than us and tells us so. It’s a natural phenomenon that parents judge parents across the world. It is the most difficult thing you’ll deal with, but when you’re responsible for another human being’s life, people tend to have strong opinions on what is right or wrong for your children. People tend to forget that most parents’ most important priority is their children. I’m assuming if you’re reading an article about parenting tips, you care about the wellbeing of your children…So I’m telling you, don’t feel guilty for taking a bit of time for yourself, and also be in holiday mode while your kids are on holiday. Have a bit of a break from the normal routine. Lie in. Don’t do the laundry on a wet, rainy Monday – it can wait one more day. Enjoy a pajama day with the kids, watch a movie, play a video game or just be in their space reading a book or relaxing.
  • Go with the flow. Generally I plan out every day – shopping trips and excursions revolve around my 20-month-old’s sleeping schedule, because we all know how pleasant a tired toddler can be. My youngest gets a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and if we’re out and about, she will not have a nap until we are back home. And if it’s later than her normal nap time, then she will either not settle easily or she will altogether skip a nap and go to bed super early, which means an early wake-up the next morning. But aside from trying to not do anything until she’s had her morning nap, planning too far ahead into the holidays can leave me and the rest of the clan frustrated when weather or circumstance interfere with what we had planned. In general I try to have a loose idea of activities that we can do all throughout the holidays, checking in with my kids in the mornings as to what the majority feels like doing. It’s not fun trying to do a fun activity with the kids when they are all in the mood for something else. So I generally make a couple of suggestions right up front and see which activity goes with which mood/weather for each day as it happens.
  • Don’t overspend. There are really awesome free parks and activities all around Auckland. We’re not that used to that in South Africa, so we make full use of all the free activities around here. A couple of things on our list of things to do for free is: go to the museum/art gallery/library. Go have a picnic in one or five of the many parks around, packed with food from home. Spend a couple of hours on a beach – if the wind and rain clears up. No need to swim, just play in the world’s largest sand pit. All kids love sand right? Not. Go to a skate park. Granted, most of the free activities are weather reliant.
  • If weather ruins any outdoor plans, arts and crafts! Yes, having four girls is probably a big influence on putting arts and crafts in my survival kit, but honestly, boys love painting and making things as much as girls do. We’ve got jewelry kits, paint by numbers, sewing and more…one activity a day, so no rushing of getting things done. There are some awesome science kits or craft ideas on Pinterest (yes, like everyone else I am also a wannabe Pinterest mum).

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