In our home we call when your kids argue all school holidays ‘Holiday Adjustment Syndrome’ (HAS). We notice it kicks in at the start of every single school holidays. This is how we fix it.
School is very routine and so term time tends to be quite busy and predictable. Kids don’t have to think too much about what to do next and sub-consciously they know the drill. Each day follows a similar pattern and even weekends tend to have some regular timed activities. Hint one: kids argue all school holidays because this structure is kicked away from them.
At the very time that we want the family to be having some downtime, fun or recreation we find that our kids struggle to adjust to the freedom. Sometimes we’ve paid considerable amounts of money to be somewhere awesome doing amazing things, yet the kids lack enthusiasm, are irritable and seem to argue all school holidays!! It makes it all seem so futile and then I remember: Holiday Adjustment Syndrome.
A few days into the holiday, the crew adjust to the new pace and freedom and we start to actually enjoy the break. Just in time for school to start again haha … So what can you do to avoid it?
Not a lot can be done before school finishes because assessment tends to be loaded into the end of term. It’s almost always a very busy and stressful time for everyone. You can however do a few things to help your family adjust to the holidays from the first few days. Obviously it depends on whether you are all on a break or just the students but here are some ideas.
1. Celebrate the end of term
Kick off the holidays with a big celebration or another way of marking that we are moving to a new phase of the year. We often do something simple like inviting a few friends around, heading out for dinner or even just a picnic/BBQ or ice-cream.
2. Talk about it
Discuss the fact that we aren’t used to all being together all day and making our own fun. We even laugh about it with the kids and tell them that there is a bit of HAS that we have to endure. Obviously this could become a self-fulfilling prophesy if you make too big a thing of it. You might be lucky and avoid it 🙂
3. Plan a few adjustment days
If you are heading away consider not going immediately. Give yourself a few free days for the kids to unwind, catch up on some screen-time, sleep in and do some of the things that are harder to fit in during term. There will be a bit of bickering, but they won’t feel the need to argue all school holidays if you give them some space to do so at the beginning.
4. Separate the siblings
Chances are that planning a few separate activities or play dates could help early on, rather than leaving them with only each other to interact with.
5. Set the rules
Almost all conflicts can be avoided or reduced by clear expectations. Have a discussion about the ground-rules for the holidays. Things like what the morning routine will look like for wake up and activities.? How much screen-time will we have each day? When and what do they eat (as in who makes meals, what snacks are OK to get)? What I don’t want is to be faced with 15 questions each hour about every small aspect of their life!
6. Structure their days
Most people actually relax more when they know the plan. Even adults in our family get more irritable when nobody knows what is happening next. If you don’t want the kids to argue all school holidays, it’s a good idea, especially in the afternoons, to have more planned time. Even if you plan to do nothing for hours at a time 🙂 This way, everyone knows that after that we are going to the movies, etc.
Great tips here: Ideas to keep the kids busy in the holidays
At the end of the holidays, intentionally re-focusing the kids back to the school routine and managing their expectations can help too.
It might not be a thing in your family but we definitely notice that having more freedom and time to fill, along with much more time with siblings, can create tension. Maybe some of the above ideas could help you ease into the holidays and survive Holiday Adjustment Syndrome.
Do your kids argue all school holidays?