Actually with Karina and Damus being so young, it doesn't really matter if it's the school holidays or not. They are at a point in their lives where FREE TIME is experienced in abundance. I hear "Mom, I'm bored!" almost everyday. I know there are many parents who over-schedule their children with tons of extra-curicular activities. However, I'm not into that practice. First of all, I don't have that kind of money to spend. Second, I believe children need their free time. Hey, isn't that the joy of being a kid? Don't you sometimes wish you could go back to your care-free days too?
Anyway, I must also admit my children usually get into mischief and do all the annoying things when their free time is overly UNstructured. So, what I'm saying is, even though children need their free time, they also need occasional guidance and ideas on what to do.
I know many parents are in the same boat as I, so I thought I'd share some of the things I've done, are doing, and wish to do. (Just for your information, my kids are 2 and 4, so the list below caters more for that age group.)
1. Water play (especially on very hot days). Either put out a kiddy pool or just fill up a pail of water and give them lots of cups and containers.
2. Blowing bubbles.
4. Disco time. Just put on some dance music and let them "Shake Their Booty."
5. TV time. Although a great "quiet time" option, but must be monitored and have limits to viewing hours. I usually limit to 2 CDs a day.
6. Computer time. Refer to my previous posting titled "Am I Too Young To Be A Geek Mommy?" and my article published at the Parent Weblog.
7. Trip to the park. Swings, slides, and running free are good ways for them to expand their neverending energy.
8. No park nearby? A walk round the neighbourhood is a good alternative. Sometimes I make it a little more interesting by having them collect things along the way (e.g. leaves, flowers etc...) and have them make a "nature collage" when they get back.
9. Reading and story time.
10. Play ball. Kids just love throwing, kicking, bouncing or rolling a ball. It's good for their coordination too.
11. Teach them a sport. This is more for older kids (aged 4 and above). Planning to get Karina started on golf. Introduced a little badminton to them too. Thinking of getting them into some sort of Martial Arts later on as my kids seem to be the aggresive kind. Better to teach them how to be properly aggresive:)
12. Eat stick ice creams, and then use the sticks to make stick puppets. You can have "family puppets" where you mount photos of yourself, the children, grandparents etc.... You could also have "animal puppets" to liven up your rendition of "Old McDonald Had a Farm."
13. Creative hour. Sing nursery rhymes and have them put in their own words. For example, my kids had dinosaurs, lions, and monsters on Old McDonald's farm. Make up stories that begin with "If I ...." You could use the following examples:
- If I had a pet dinosaur...
- If I could fly...
- If I lived in the jungle...
- If I was a princess...
If they can't write yet, write the story down for them and have them do the illustrations. Sometimes, it doesn't need to be so structured. My kids are just as happy scribbling, coloring, cutting and pasting just for fun. All they need is the materials and they create they own fun. BUT it must be very clear that cleaning up is also their responsibility.
14. Pretend play. Kids don't need adults on this one. Just let them be and they will come up with their own stuff. You just need to supply them with "stuff" e.g. boxes, cups, bottles, toys, etc....
15. Teach them to use the digicam and see what fun and weird photos they come up with.
16. Let them spend a few days with the grandparents. I know this may not be an option for everybody. If it is, DO IT.
School holidays is also a time when you see the mushrooming of "special" programs by the commercial sector. Here are a few for your consideration. Warning... they usually cost money, are mostly for older kids (age 7 and above) and are catered towards those in the Klang Valley.
- Petrosains have interesting stuff for kids. Here is limited information on their School Holiday Program. Here are their hours and rates.
- BeST & BiTS Holiday Camp for Form 3-5 students.
- Young Artist at YMCAKL
- Children's Theatre, Puppet Workshops and more at the KLPAC
- Dance, Drama, Music and Martial Arts at the Talent Hub
Well, these are just my limited suggestions. Anybody please feel free to add to the list and help other parents survive the "Mom, Dad, I'm BORED!" dilemma.