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5 Tools to Help Your Family Thrive (Not Just Survive) on School Holidays

Updated: Dec 2, 2022


I’m going to put it out there - school holidays are a few weeks away and I’m already noticing the dread creep in!

As awesome as having so much time with the kids is, school holidays can be seriously testing. And if I’m completely honest, looking back at holidays passed, some days can really suck.

Of course, holidays can be lots of fun too – with loads of love, laughter, and quality time spent together as a family - that’s the amazing part of school holidays!

But with covid concerns still around, and purses tightening with the increasing cost of living, it’s possible that this coming Christmas holidays could present parents with some challenges.

So, I thought I’d share five things I did last school holidays with our kids that helped switch our family from surviving mode, to thriving. Hopefully they can assist you and your fam this upcoming festive season and be tools available to use if tensions start to run high.

Here are my 5 tips for family thriving during school holidays:

1. Gratitude Journaling

Take a few minutes first thing in the morning (or just before bed each night) and write down 3 to 5 things that you’re grateful for. Keep it simple. I literally write on a blank page the heading, “Today I’m grateful for:” and then proceed to dot point what I’m grateful for. It doesn’t have to be an essay (although if you’re feeling super grateful, go for it!) Do this even on the most stressful days (and especially when you feel like you don’t have any time). When you take time to hunt down moments of gratitude, it’s amazing what you can find…

  • Gratitude in the way your toddler hugs you with those little arms wrapped around your neck, pressing their cheek against yours.

  • Gratitude for being able to order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door (and being able to stay in your PJs all day - YAY!)

  • Gratitude for TV and popcorn kernels – being able to create a fun movie experience for the kids at home while you sneak in some work into the middle of your day.

  • Or maybe gratitude for drinking 8 glasses of water and hydrating your body.

  • Recalling these moments and writing them down can make you smile and instantly shift your mood – helping you to respond better in those moments when the kids’ behaviour starts to push your buttons.

2. Meditation Ten minutes of meditating works a treat. There are numerous podcasts out there that have quick and easy meditations that you can do. For those days when you’re time strapped, closing your eyes and taking a few deep, slow breaths works wonders too! I find that when I do this, I feel immediately centred and grounded - better able to handle the next instance when someone calls out “MUUUUUUMMMMMM!”

3. Get Outside, daily The other day it was pouring rain, but we didn’t let that stop us! I opened the back door, the kids ran out into the rain and got drenched from head to toe. They danced in puddles and splashed around - preoccupied for ages with the joy they got from being outside. Rain, blowing winds, or sunshine, just 10 minutes outdoors (sometimes simply sitting on the grass and doing nothing) can make a big difference to your mood and be a tiny dose of goodness that lifts you up on a crappy day.

4. Encourage ‘Calm Down Time’ (instead of time outs) For those days when the kids wake up in a mood - repeatedly playing up, or they’re flat out cranky and throwing tantrums left, right and centre - instead of putting them in time out, we offer them ‘calm down time’.

On particularly hard days, I know I certainly need time to calm down. When I find myself overloading, I practice calm down time too (and I make sure to do it in front of the kids so they can see that I need it too, and to show them how to do it themselves).

I’ll say “I’m feeling angry right now. I just need some calm down time.” Then I’ll stand there (or sometimes slump on the floor against a wall, if it’s one of those days), close my eyes, and take as many deep breaths as I need until I finally calm down. Sure enough, the kids have now picked up on it and when I ask them “would you like to have some calm down time?” they readily accept the invitation. The kids are still small (three and five years old), so sometimes I’ll sit or stand with them as they calm down - to help them regulate and feel supported. It’s working so well that now I rarely need to ask them, they’ll just tell us “I need calm down time!” … winning!

5. Use the Reset Button

On those days where nothing seems to be going right and I can tell that if it continues the day will be a complete disaster, I’ll take a moment and say to the kids something like:

“things aren’t going so great right now. We’re all angry with each other and fighting. Shall we press the reset button?”

The imaginary reset button invites everyone to safely air their grievances - to say what’s been upsetting them, to be heard and feel understood. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge how everyone is feeling, and then actively choose to redirect the day down a more positive path by saying, “okay, let’s now press the reset button!”

The reset button can be anything. Our reset button lives in the middle of my palm. Whenever we need it, I open and flip my hand upside down, and invite everyone to press their finger on the pretend button in the middle of my palm.

At this point (after pressing reset) we’ll ask each other, “what kind of day (or night) do we want to have now?”

It’s fun to choose who you want to be and what kind of experience you want to have as a family once the reset button has been pressed. The kids usually say, “I want to have a happy day!” or “I want to have a unicorn party day!”

If tensions start to rise again later, it’s a fantastic accountability tool too where you can say, “hey guys, remember we said we’re going to have a XYZ day today?! Come on, let’s get back to that and not be cranky.”

Raising a family and living in a post-pandemic world can be challenging. Thankfully there are things we can do to feel less frazzled and more grounded in our homes. Ho

I hope you’ve found something helpful in these tips and can apply them in your home, so your family can thrive and not just survive too.

Jaleesa x


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