Get creative, unplug and reconnect these school holidays.
School holiday lockdown ideas for all ages
Can you believe that the 2022 summer school holidays are already here? For all the parents wondering what you’ll do with your kids these school holidays, we’ve created a list of creative unplugged ideas for you to draw upon.
Technology is a marvellous invention and has helped us remain sane during these past few years, considering the many periods of lockdowns we have experienced. However, there’s also such a thing as too much tech time. It’s too easy to use tech as a tool to relax, have fun, connect, and manage boredom, but we now know too much screen time can negatively affect children. Australian Institute of Family Studies, recommends “no more than two hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day for children and young people aged 5–17 years (not including schoolwork). Screen time has negative effects on weight and diet (TV viewing), and behavioural problems [like]: anxiety, hyperactivity, self-esteem and psychosocial health.”
Recommendations for children younger than 2 is zero screen time. And between 2-5 years, no more than one hour a day. That is a lot of time to fill in right?
I also think it’s fair to say that most people, including our kids, are feeling a little screen fatigued and bored from using devices to stay afloat. So taking some time to get creative and back to basics offline is vital during this time to help balance our well-being.
If you reflect on your happiest childhood memories, what are you doing? I know it may be tricky to think back to those times and re-create similar experiences for our kids, but try and be creative with what you do have or what you can do. It’s likely to take a real mind shift to consider how you manage your time without screens, especially if still working during the holidays, but it’s a wonderful way to boost mood and reconnect with ourselves and those around us. Being actively present increases your chances of feeling calmer and experiencing more joy.
Many of my clients, including myself, have found that the regular stuff we would do for ourselves or as a family is starting to get a little old. So here are a bunch of unplugged ideas to inspire you to try something a little different. This list will be a great reference point now and for the future.
- Try to take some time off work, a day or even a week, whatever is achievable. We may not be able to get away at the moment but taking some time off work can be just as valuable during lockdown to lessen the pressures and demands of juggling work and family. It can be a great way to have some uninterrupted down time to reconnect with your kids. When you’re ready to start an activity, I suggest turning your phones off to be 100% present. Then make fabulous memories together. Maybe turn your phone on right at the end to capture the moment with a photograph.
- Create a box called “Tech time out”. Before any family activities, all family members need to place their devices into the box until the agreed time.
- Plan for Romance. Remember, the kids aren’t the only ones who get to have fun. Organise a romantic date when the kids are in bed. Order in a dessert, diffuse some essential oils, swap back massages in candlelight and see where it takes you.
- Plan for you time. This might be a walk with a friend. A DIY facial from your local beautician. A soak in a bath with a good book, or time in your man cave to tinker on a project.
A recent client told me that a camp out in his backyard made him feel like he’d had a weekend away. Getting creative and back to basics can really improve your mood and mindset.
- Dress ups. Perform a concert in front of the family
- Puppet shows
- Teddy bears picnics
- Play shops
- Making mud cakes in the backyard
- Paint rocks and drop them in a local park for others to find
- Sprinkler time in the backyard
- Find 10 different shaped leaves in the garden
- Thread pasta onto a string
- Play doh fun
- A box of toy balls on a trampoline
- Play in a sandpit
- Finger painting
- Scavenger hunts
- Make bath bombs – you can order DIY kits – the link is a local Hills District small business supplier.
- Bake cupcakes or biscuits and decorate them
- Build a marble run
- Create an obstacle course
- Create an outside gym with workout stations.
- Collect flowers and make a posy OR press them, and glue onto home-made cards.
- Write a letter to all the loved ones you miss. They will LOVE to receive your homemade cards, and you may even get some mail in return.
- Fly a kite in the park
- Create an indoor or outdoor fort or cubby.
- Make daisy chains
- Design your own shirts (get your parents to buy you a white t-shirt or hat) and paint it
- Write a children’s book or illustrate your favourite story.
- Create your own beauty salon, paint nails
- Practice hammering nails into planks of wood. When you get proficient, create a planter box or a box for your toys.
- Learn to braid hair
- Make play doh
- Create slime
- Make paper planes
- Make some macramé
- Create your own yoga or gym work out station and get the family involved.
- Paint your bedroom (with permission)
- Learn calligraphy or brush writing
- Create jewellery
- Mindfulness colouring book
- Gratitude journaling – Consider 3 things each day you are thankful for.
- Renovate a piece of old furniture (search for Council clean-ups if you have none at home).
- Find a bike track for a bit of out-door adventure.
- Learn to cook a new dish – Perhaps choose a random Country and research and prepare a popular recipe.
- Go for a bushwalk and photograph nature.
- Good old fashioned crosswords or Sudoku
- Create your own comic strip
- Wash cars
- Shoot basketball or netball hoops
- Play handball
- Make a treehouse
- Learn a Tik Tok dance
- Declutter and Organise drawers / storage / handbag /
- Re-design bedroom
Family activities for all ages
- Plan a family dinner party –write up your own menu, use fancy table settings, come up with an impressive entrée, main and dessert. Each family member is responsible for one part of the dinner party. Have music playing, or if kids play musical instruments, have a little concert between dishes. Include conversation starters in the middle of the table or jokes to share. No one wants the wash up duty, so maybe draw straws for who does what, or better yet, have one person clear, another wash, another dry and another put away! Team work.
- Design and create your own family board game
- Create a family time capsule. Each member of the family contributes an item. Add some joint items like: a family photo, the front page of the newspaper, a list of your best friends and favourite music, whatever is important to your family.
- Camp out in the backyard. Add a fire pit and marshmallows for the full camp experience.
- Board games. Enjoy a day of board games.
- Kayak or Paddleboard. If you’re lucky enough to have a body of water nearby.
- Create a veggie patch
- Hold a Family dance party
- Family karaoke. Pull out the microphones or hairbrushes, put on your favourite tracks and take turns singing your heart out. Have voting cards for best performance, like on a TV talent show
- Play Marshmallow engineering challenge – Grab toothpicks and marshmallows and see who can build the highest or most creative construction
- Make a family daily gratitude diary for 21 days. (It takes about this long to create a habit). What are you grateful for today? This could be written, drawn, or photographs etc.
- Go and feed the ducks or fish at the local lake (if there is one nearby).
- Spotlight at night for wildlife. Get the torches out and see how many wild animals you can identify
- Look at the stars through a telescope together and identify what planets you can see.
- Discover new walking trails – take a different route each time.
- Set up a picnic on the lawn. Then play badminton, soccer, Frisbee or backyard cricket
- Interactive story time. Rather than reading a story, get the kids to act out a story each, parents can join in too. Depending on how many kids you have you could pair up to make it more like a show!
- Tackle a large puzzle together
- Learn a new skill. Each family member needs to learn a new skill or create something by the end of the day, and share it with each other after dinner
- Go for a bike or scooter ride – lots of wonderful tracks and places to explore. As restrictions ease, try and explore some new spots as adding variation can be a great way to boost mood
Whether it’s a short experience or not, if it brings a smile, a giggle, a sense of peace or joy, then it’s served a purpose during this time. One day we’ll look back on this time, but how will we remember it? Whether we like it or not, this pandemic is history in the making. It’s a period in time our children are not likely to forget so coming together where possible and building some fun filled and loving memories is an opportunity we can try and cherish.
There are also many opportunities and lessons that you can take from this time, to grow and to use well into the future. From the way we care for ourselves, function in our relationships and within our family unit.
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Kylie Lepri is a registered Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter below.