School holidays are something of a blessing (no more school lunch panic in the mornings) and yet also a curse (what to do with the kids??). Here are a few tips to help survive the holidays:

  • Planning really does help. Working out a rough schedule of playdates, activities and excursions in advance is essential – particularly when trying to coordinate with other families. Make a quick calendar each week with your kids to pin on the fridge so they know when they are visiting Granny, or going to the movies with their school friend or whatever. Setting expectations is a big part of holiday sanity.
  • lets you book tickets to activities or attractions in your local area a day or so in advance – at a substantial discount (NZ-wide). It’s a bit like but for local activities like Ten Pin Bowling.
  • Digital entertainment inevitably becomes part of the school holidays. Knowing which apps have In App Purchasing, and still provide some education and entertainment can be challenging. This Guardian article is one of the best I have found with 50 apps that parents can trust (any cost is in GBP currency of course, but you get the idea).
  • To balance out the digital devices, stock up on a few good activity books like this one which challenges your child’s imagination with questions like ‘What colour is Tuesday? Draw it!’. The results may surprise you!
  • Games like pick-up sticks, card games, Twister, making a fort, and jigsaws are all good for rainy days. Visiting your local indoor swimming pool is also a good wet weather activity, and baking is a popular option too!
  • If you are stuck for ideas, get your kids to write down suggestions and select the best (and most appropriate) ideas to put in a jar for a lucky dip. Also use Google and Facebook to see what is on in your local town. If you are in Auckland, Silo Park often has family events on during the holidays – and free as well!  Auckland Council has loads of suggestions including events planned at MOTAT, Auckland Museum, Stardome and plenty more. Seedling Store runs some holiday workshops, and Corbans Estate Art Centre has great art classes for kids which are subsidised by The Trusts Charitable Foundation so are less expensive than some alternatives.
  • Pinterest is a surprisingly good source of inspiration for crafts or kids activities to do at home. Sit down with your children for 20 minutes and scroll though the Kids category to see what catches their eye. Spotlight is your friend for craft supplies. This easy triceratops paper craft activity was a winner with my kids. Download the PDF, print, colour, cut and glue.
  • Throw a towel, a spare change of kids clothes and some non-perishable snacks in the back of the car for the duration of the holidays. You never know when an impromptu sandcastle session at the beach might turn into a quick dip, so having a dry set of clothing and some food keeps the grumbles away.
  • Declutter the mountain of unwanted toys by getting the kids to list them on TradeMe. Taking photos, writing a description, answering ‘Do you have a Buy Now price?’ and watching the bids tick up is a good lesson in commerce. Plus there will be money at the end of it all! A great holiday project.
  • Lastly, this iPad app brings your child’s colouring-in to life, in 3D! Watch the video to see a demo – very cool. The Pukeko is free, use In App Purchases for more designs.

Do you have any other tips you have found useful over the holidays? Share them in the comments below.