School holidays strike fear into the heart of many parents, but once they have tweens it peaks at a whole new level.
With Holiday Care no longer an option for many due to being in high school, options tend to be limited to an array of overpriced 'day camps'. Parents can't always take the whole holidays off with their tweens. Of course we value time with our children, but at the end of the day there are many hours to fill and our day jobs don't stop.
In our technology filled environments, I hate the thought of my tweens spending valuable and limited holiday time sitting on Minecraft. So here's 5 hacks to get them off the couch.
1. Plan a Scavenger Hunt.
It's not as hard as it sounds. Invite their friends over and you've also scored babysitting points with another school mum to cash in. They'll be happy to trade. Pick their kids up for the day, and trade for a home pickup and delivery on a day YOU need to be at work. Sites like Pinterest have printouts and lists aplenty. No need to reinvent the wheel when you already own a printer. It's as simple as handing them a list of 20 items to find, with things like 'find a Z from our Scrabble game'. Make sure at least one cooking challenge is involved. Bonus: they'll make you lunch.
2. Ban technology until a set time every afternoon when they're in 'whine-down' mode.
Tweens are like adults -- their brains function best in the morning. I used to nag them all morning to get off the internet until I crack it and implement a ban. This unfortunately meant instead of hiding quietly in their rooms watching YouTube videos and winding down before dinner, I was coming up with activities at 3 pm when I really just wanted to be Facebooking with tea and scotch fingers.
3. Make them create a roster for the last week of holidays with the option of a different activity every day.
If they know what's coming, it is proven to cut down 63 percent of whining. Probably. Give them a say in activities and give them their school holiday budget first. Have them research the cost of activities themselves and work to their budget. Let them choose between 'saving up' for a big activity or going on a series of small adventures. Tweens are really, incredibly smart. Make them use those little brains you've invested so many hours into fostering creativity in. They'll exceed your expectations, I promise.
4. Tweens are independent little creatures. They know almost everything, so it's a matter of finding a YouTube tutorial to fill the blanks.
Hand them a little Pinspiration, give them a budget and take them on a 20-minute trip to Kmart first thing in the morning. (Chant after me, cheaper than holiday care.) They'll probably load up on fairy lights and deer cushions and those unnecessary indoors mosquito nets. But, hey, playing interior decorator is almost as rewarding for some Twelvies as it is for their mothers.
5. Want to know a secret? Tweens still love colouring in.
Jump on Pinterest and print them out some more complicated colouring in sheets, with the promise to frame them for a specific area of the home. Resist the urge to pat them on the head as you hand them their colouring pencils. Because they're not little kids (remember) and they'll give you that sideways dirty look they perfected as a toddler.
Whip out a board game towards the end of the holidays and enjoy the excellent company of your children at their best. Remember when you had to wipe their butts after every potty session? And their primary school jokes never made sense, but you were forced to laugh so you didn't crush their spirit? Ah, so much has changed in a few short years. Yep, tweens are the BEST. Hug them and laugh with them while they still belong to you, and not to the mythical beast known as Puberty.
And if they ask you, "Where did I come from?" -- don't let them check online for a YouTube tutorial.
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