Sunday, 13 December 2015

Surviving the Christmas Holidays

Christmas Tree decoration
Photo by C. Durling, 2015

First posted as part of the 2015 #12DaysOfParenting

The school holidays always seem to come as a bit of a surprise to me now that I've been away from teaching for 5 years, and when they start I suddenly find myself unprepared for the lack of activities to attend. All the preschool-age groups stop and it's up to us  parents to be the sole entertainers of our children, or to brave very busy soft play areas, full of much bigger kids. No sipping a latte whilst the younglings run and climb - I have to start supervising!

I've found that saving the bigger Christmas activities and crafts for the last week of Advent maximises the fun and stops us from missing our groups. When I was growing up, my parents didn't put up our Christmas tree until just a few days before Christmas. Now I understand why, and we've continued that tradition in our home now. I think this makes the last week of Advent more exciting, and marks it out as different to the rest of the month, helping in the build up to Christmas Day. However, it has also had the added bonus of
making the days when groups aren't running more interesting at home. Decorating the tree is an event in itself, involving Christmas tunes, spiced biscuits, and sometimes grandparents. The girls get a new ornament each year, so that adds to the fun.

When it comes to surviving the Christmas school holidays with our 2 year old and 4 year old, we try to increase the home based activities towards the end of Advent. While we still have groups to go to at the beginning of December our crafts and activities tend to be fairly small and simple, and we don't do them every day, meaning that the fancier, more complicated things - like gingerbread houses, mince pies and ornaments can be left until we need to fill up more time at home. 

We also try to have some wintry walks in the days before Christmas. A chance to burn off some energy and enjoy the fresh air, watching our breath come out in clouds. 

For the days after Christmas, when Daddy has gone back to work, but the schools are still on holiday, we've found that saving a few presents to open has been a saving grace. There are always so many to open on Christmas Day, that it gets quite overwhelming for the little ones, and so spreading out the opening helps with that too. 

And, of course, the lack of groups to attend leaves plenty of time for writing thank you letters! Now that B is learning to read and write, I encourage her to write in her cards herself, and that takes a good long time. We usually do a bit of painting or drawing to make thank you cards - always useful to get the craft box out!

How do you fill the extra time in the school holidays?
Please do leave comments - I love to read them, and try to respond to every one.


For more on surviving the school holidays at Christmas please hop on over to Tales of an M.E. Mummy.

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