For children in many homes, while New Year is ‘Resolution’ time, vacation is thrown at the other extreme: a time of utter indiscipline and heavy indulgence. We may add more words for this period of pleasure and chaos: slackness, lethargy, over relaxation. Well, let’s stop being crudely judgmental and lend me your ears for a sad secret: WE are party to this long list of ‘holiday woes’. When you feel helpless about such situations, you may feel like swearing that your child is useless. May I clarify– actually, your child is used less – as Swami Chinmayanandha, one of India’s celebrated religious mendicants said. Well, let’s join hands and quickly brush up our basic skills of ‘parenting-during-vacation’.
During the vacation, usually the child’s day starts very late, certainly after 8 a.m. Well, he cannot do otherwise for two reasons:
He goes to bed very late;
There isn’t anything exciting or compelling to jump start the day.
The ‘cure’ for this malady is highly personalized. YOU have to make one for your own child.
For mothers who stay at home, caring for children in a special way during the vacation is an added responsibility while for mothers who are employed, it is also a period of extra stress and guilt. Stress, because in nuclear family setup, the feeling of security and assurance is almost total when the child is at school, rather than elsewhere, as it happens during vacation. Guilt, because she is not able to give wonderful things to her little one: company, entertainment, special food and care.
Whether a ‘working’ mother or not (is there such a category?!), it is worthwhile to be wiser and happier with some simple measures. Employed mothers may pack off the children to relatives’ home or to summer camps. Whether employed mother or a home maker, please make a mental timetable the previous night. A timetable that would not be academic or rigid, but one that would keep your child engaged in learning and enriching his avid young mind. But be prepared to gently forego changes or interruptions in this schedule, only to make your child’s day a better one.
When at home in your child’s company, share responsibilities with him instead of just dumping them on him and ending up blaming the results. Even simple household chores like dusting, cleaning, sweeping, washing dishes, arranging the wardrobes can be fun-filled if you combine them with music, word / number games (oral) or stories. Work in the kitchen with your school-going child to talk about any subject to him:
Science: Watching the milk boil at the right temperature, by increasing and decreasing the flame of the stove (‘Heat’ — his Physics lesson), for example.
Geography: Ask him to peel the boiled potato, to show him that while the outer layer is cool enough, the interior or the core continues to be very hot, as is the case of our earth.
Math: Tell your child that even his favorite dishes need to be prepared with correct measurement of ingredients, lest they turn tasteless.
Language: Play the translation game — Ask him to translate the kitchen items into the mother tongue / English and have fun! (Make sure YOU have the answers, beforehand!)
Social science: Encourage him to watch and discuss people of all walks of life, their living conditions, their education, lifestyle, food habits.
The time around, when the school reopens, you will be happily upset about it. And not relieved as you usually were. Enjoy watching him dart to the next lovely phase of life as a happier, yearning child. Wish you a magically exploring and merrily explosive time!