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Break the Routine

It's vacation time-let your kids flourish and have lots of fun

BY DR SHELJA SEN  


I GREW UP
in the hills where  winter holidays lasted for three blissful months; we spent our time doing and being, in equal measure. Our favourite pastime was lugging books up to our secret nooks in the hills and reading through the day. There were times spent chatting, singing, dreaming, giggling, eating and finding shapes and stories in the clouds. We trudged back home in the evening to start all over again the next morning. It was uneventful, but wholesome.

Our parents were neither determined nor worried about making the holidays special for us. That job was left to us entirely.

The story is different now. Months before the summer vacations begin, our children's time is planned: adventure camps booked, overseas trips scheduled and multiple activities lined up-swimming, tennis, dance lessons. You get the picture. There are plenty of options to choose from to fill up their days. "At least, they are doing something constructive," we think, relieved after we're done planning. It also takes care of parental guilt, and we carry on with our lives.

The Art of Doing Nothing
I know, I know, times have changed-we cannot leave vacation planning to the kids. But I do think that we end up over-scheduling our children and robbing them of an opportunity to just be. I have deep faith in the approach that all of us, especially our kids, need that 'doing nothing' space where we can dream, create, think-without the pressure of doing something 'productive'.

In this age of 'hyper-parenting', we assume the responsibility of keeping our kids entertained. The result? Our children are not in tune with themselves. We dread that "I am bored!" refrain and jump in to do whatever it takes to make them happy. It is important for our children to understand that they are in charge of their own happiness and that they should know how to entertain themselves. So the next time they say the B-word, take a deep breath, relax, smile and say, "What would you like to do about it [boredom]?" It may be a bit tough initially, but you will be surprised at how well they cope with taking ownership of their lives.

Discover the Joy of Free Play

Get unplugged. School vacations seem to have become synonymous with excessive screen time. Make sure you monitor and limit the time spent on their mobiles, computers, gaming consoles and watching TV. The passive visuomotor ecstasy of the screen is hugely addictive and does not allow creative growth.
Give them the tools.Assign a creativity corner in the house for everything they need to experiment and mess around with-paper, pencil, paint, glue, sequins, sand, water, scissors, musical instruments, bat and ball and so on.
Plan 'green' time.City kids really need this. A trip to the park early in the morning is all it takes to get close to nature, to speak nothing
of a vacation in the hills or a reserve forest.
Put some routine in place. Make sure there's some rhythm to their days in terms of waking up time, breakfast, shower and working on holiday projects. If the day is completely unstructured, the chaos may cause stress to everyone.
Have fun.School holidays can be a great opportunity for you to connect with your kids, be silly and playful. See how it also brings you closer.      
        
The author is a Delhi-based child and adolescent psychologist, family therapist and author of All You Need is Love: The Art of Mindful Parenting.  

 

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