Surviving the school holidays

School Holiday Survival Guide

“Mum, I’m booooored!”

The reality of school holidays

It would appear that my children, despite having a room full of fabulous toys, are unable to entertain themselves, unless that entertainment includes things they shouldn’t do, with objects that are not toys. (Like cutting each other’s hair at 5 am in the morning for example. True story.)

Whilst other mothers wax lyrical about how fab the holidays are, having their little ones home 24/7 baking cookies and making craft, for me, it looms like a week-long stay at the Dentist. Give me a root canal any day over a bored child.

By the end of the holidays, our home looks like we’ve been ransacked by criminals who clearly couldn’t find what they were looking for and have just given up and left the place upside down. There seems little point in tidying up when your kids are literally two feet behind you undoing it all. Plus, they get a head start on you by waking at 5 am and going to bed at midnight, all because they have no school to wear them out!!!! AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!

My coping tips

  • Let go of the guilt – I mean it. It’s just making you a grumpy mummy anyway.
  • Vacation care – even if you’re a stay at home mum, consider putting your children in vacation care for one or two days a week to give you a break. The key here is getting the program in advance, and letting your kids choose which two days they would like to attend based on the activities listed. This way they may get to visit the Zoo or something special like that which you would never have had the time, energy or money to do with them yourself. (Especially those single mummies like I was).
  • Mix the days – I highly recommend that big or busy days be followed by quiet days at home. Children have rather selective memories, so don’t be trapped into conversations like this:

“I hate the holidays, we never go ANYWHERE!”

“That’s not true Hannah, we went to Jambaroo yesterday remember??”


“We never get pizza for dinner.”

“Well, actually Claire, we had pizza on Saturday remember?”


One time, after arriving home from a theme park holiday in Queensland (we drove up) I wearily dumped our bags in the house. As I headed for the shower my daughter piped up behind me, “What will we be doing tomorrow?”

In fact, I’ve noticed there’s a pattern, the more I give my kids, the more ungrateful they become. I don’t know if that’s just my own horrible entitled children (and yours are all lovely!)

  • Grab an activity book – Before the days of Pinterest, I had these helpful little books called, ‘101 Fun activities to do with kids’. My girls and I would pour through the activities and fill out our own weekly holiday program, which we would stick on the fridge. This included two days of vacation care each week and something fun to bake, make or do morning and afternoon on the other days. There was also free time where they were expected to entertain themselves. I had a list on the fridge that we all thought up together, of things to do without Mummy, so I could refer them to the list instead of exploding at them when I heard those two little words no parent cares to hear “I’m bored”.

It doesn’t always go to plan

“Mummy I don’t know what I can do.”

“Really? Did you check the list we made on the fridge?”

“Yes. But I don’t really feel like doing that stuff.”

“Oh. What do you feel like doing?”

“I’d like to go to McDonald’s.”

Ok. I never said the list was perfect. But it’s a start,  isn’t it?

In a nutshell

  • Keep it simple – doesn’t have to cost lots of $$ and be bigger than Ben-Hur to be fun.
  • Break up the big activity days with quiet home days.
  • Have a holiday plan you all contribute to, stuck to the fridge door.
  • Encourage kids to make their own fun.
  • If available, let family help out, this can be such a great time of bonding with Grandparents.
  • Swap babysitting days with your friends to give each other a break, or have combined play dates. It always seems so much easier when the load is shared, especially for single mums; I found I always enjoyed my kids more when I had a bit of support and company.

It’s not all bad

All jokes aside, whilst I found the holidays exhausting, I had some of the best times with my kids in those weeks. When I wasn’t breaking up fights or cleaning cake batter off the ceiling, I had moments of pure domestic bliss – and the common thread running through all of it? Simplicity. I think my kids once spent an entire afternoon spinning themselves sick on my office chair.

Many years ago, Oprah did a show on a young family who were losing their mum to cancer. She gifted them an overseas holiday doing a bunch of exotic things like riding camels through the desert. After the mum had passed away, Oprah interviewed the young children, asking them what their best memory was. Everybody expected it to be one of the many amazing experiences they’d had on their holiday but the little girl’s answer was swift and spontaneous, “Eating a bowl of Cheerios on the lounge room floor with Mummy.”

I think that says it all.

About the author – Leonie is mum to two lovely teenage girls. She loves to illustrate, write and be creative in her home in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Leonie has 4 cats and aspires to one day become a crazy cat lady. 

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