This is about the ongoing school vacations. My wife and I possibly one of the few parents who haven’t felt the heat (not referring to the temperature here 😊) of dis-engaged kids pestering their parents during the dream period of the year for them.

While I may just be lucky to be blessed 🙏 with two children who are the least possible trouble, on introspection, there be a few things we have done right and in advance to be free of the stress of having to “manage” the kids during the vacation.

Some of our long-term measures include:

·         Having my parents live with us.

·         A separate, well facilitated, well-equipped, well-stocked kids’ room.

·         A monthly budget for their books, toys and stationery.

·         A happy open environment where we share everything with each other (my kids even know my earnings and savings 😊) and we know the worst dreams they have had, their career dreams, what kind of spouse they’d like (reaaally early planning eh? 😁).

·         A decision that my wife would not aim for a corporate job after we re-settled at Bangalore (though she had some marvelous achievements in her previous professional avatar as a Business Head)

My daughter is a wonder when it comes to being busy. She always has something to do like:

·         Art work with decorative stationery.

·         Participating in my wife’s Yoga class.

·         Making innovative dishes with “Choco-pie”, dry fruits, chocolate syrup.

·         Singing and dancing.

·         Drawing and painting.

·         Reading.

·         Writing a newspaper (it is called “The Times of C-303 Purvi Lotus”).

·         Organizing family events (last Sunday she had the four adults in the family join her drawing class and taught us calligraphy 😁). These are called FFTEs – Family Fun Time Events and held by her for 30 to 40 minutes on weekends.

My son had trouble in the last vacation and used to frequently flop on a bed exclaiming – “BORED!” 🥱
It was then that I got thinking. I suggested to him that he ought to make a list of things he likes to do and paste it on the fridge. Whenever he got bored, he could see the list and pick an activity to do. It didn’t work at that time L.

The issue wasn’t with the list but the way the list was proposed. This vacation, over the last 5 weeks, I haven’t heard him saying “BORED!” Thanks to my daughter who is great with plans and my wife who took the idea of the “Things-I-like-do-list” forward. She gave them a chart paper and my daughter sketched out a “Things-I-like-to-do-list” on half a chart paper and the rest was for my son. He joined (we have no choice when my daughter decides to get something done – she isn’t as lenient as her parents 😁 😁). Here is the chart they made.

Things i like to do chart

With this background (I’ll keep the rest short), here are my strategies:

·         Ask the children what they like to do – they would be generally full of ideas. They will come up with ideas, solutions, things to do. You just have to facilitate (like a library membership – Justbooks delivers to home, stationery, toys, books, plants, pets, etc.).

·         Spend all possible time beyond work hours with them. During this time, play with the kids. Be a kid for a while. If they get some time with you, they ought to be able to manage the rest of their time themselves.

·         They miss their friends, their play area, the outdoors – facilitate whatever is possible by way of toys, books, etc.

·         Don’t insist on classes – my kids said they would prefer to be free of all obligations and will do some extra learning along with school.

·         Take breaks during work (we do it at office anyway for over-coffee chats) and talk to them.

·         Gently have them make their “Things-I-Like-To-Do” chart.

I’ll emphasize this – LISTEN TO THEM. Kids know what they’d like to do. To keep them engaged, a parent needs only to know their likes and gently remind them of what they enjoy.

Hope it helps!!! Enjoy your kids’ vacation!!!

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Subhash Iyer

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