The Easter midterm is looming and children are on the countdown to two school free weeks. Along with the fact that most shops now look like miniature versions of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, can present a challenger for parents. While a break in routine usually means that the pace slows down a little, it can also add other stressors such as childcare. Perhaps the biggest issue of all is that new phenomenon; ‘must keep the children entertained all of the time’.
Holidays from school used to mean staying in pyjamas until lunch time, playing in your own garden and looking forward to more chocolate treats than you were usually allowed. Today, those holidays are quite different. Easter camps provide a solution to childcare issues and ensure that your child won’t encounter the one thing we seem to have become so afraid of – boredom. There can be a tendency to shuttle children from one activity to another and, as a result, their time for free play has been significantly reduced. Here’s a typical scenario for me that will resonate with most parents: You’re driving home in the car with your child, having just picked him up from his weekly swimming lesson. He asks what you’re having for dinner and you realise you have yet to even think about that so you tell him that he can watch TV or use the I-pad when you get home, while you prepare something. I realise (too late) that I could have done that differently. Instead of suggesting an activity to him that would put us both in separate rooms, I could have suggested that he could help me make dinner. In addition to giving him some responsibility and teaching him life skills, it would allow me time and space to find out about the highs and lows of his day. Sometimes we’re so eager to keep them occupied, we forget to let our children ‘just be’.
Over the Easter break, there are plenty of ways to connect with your child that don’t require planning (I never remember to look into camps until they are fully booked!), money or gadgetry. For younger children, painting eggs and organising a hunt around the garden always goes down a treat. With longer evenings and better weather, walks in the woods, picnics or a family cycle or walk on the new canal pathway brings that lovely balance of being outdoors and spending time together. You might even encounter real rabbits and chicks, which would be a very welcome break from the chocolate variety!
This article was contributed by a member of Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.