How to Tackle it When Children Compare School Holidays…
The school bell rings, our kids trot back to the classroom, and inevitably, one of the first questions on everybody’s lips is going to be “Where did you go in the school holidays?” Depending on any number of factors, the answers are going to differ wildly – and may, in some cases, even evoke Ye Olde Green-eyed Monster…
Because many of our kids are THE definition of Generation Jet Set.
Particularly those who attend private school. I can only imagine some of the competition which (naturally) arises when a child is asked to write a story and draw a picture of their summer escapades – which will later be read out and shared with the rest of the class. How can one child’s week of camping in France (wonderful though that is!) compare with another’s fortnight in Florida – visiting EVERY theme park, plus long weekend in New York, plus a cruise around the Mediterranean, gymnastics camp, trip to Legoland, not forgetting the weekend in London – and did they mention the zip trip to Barbados to top up the clan’s tan?
On the surface, it would appear that our children’s holiday activities boil down to the big M: Money.
But dig a little deeper, and we see that’s not always so.
There are myriad reasons why a family might go all out, voyaging the seven seas – or do the complete opposite and opt for a stay-cation. And to give our children a sense of perspective (no matter what their age), it’s always worth explaining our vacation plans with them – ahead of the event; so they don’t fall in to the trap of comparing their lifestyle with that of others, so they can feel appreciation for the exciting things they will have the opportunity to do.
Children need to realise that there are only so many days in the school holidays, but also that there are many more reasons family chose to vacation differently.
- One or both parents may have work commitments making it tricky to get time off.
- Regardless of financial status, some parents just aren’t fussed about holidaying abroad… and so that’s just the way it is until their children are old enough to make their own choices.
- Some parents are shit scared of flying/ferries and/or the idea of taking the Eurostar. In which case I cannot recommend hypnotherapy highly enough, there’s a BIG wide world out there full of wonderful places and experiences! It sounds like a cruddy excuse for staying put, or not venturing far every summer, but believe me, these fears are anything but rare.
- For a multi-child family it can be tricky or even highly expensive to get a hotel room (or two).
- Disabilities and restricted mobility can make a holiday closer to home a much more convenient option.
- A family may choose to forgo an “exciting” holiday this year because they are planning an epic African Safari in three years time.
These are just a few examples, but I am sure you can fill in the blanks better than me.
There are ways and means of helping your children feel more positive about their “run-of-the-mill” school holidays:
1: Remind your children of the experiences they have been lucky enough to have this summer.
Everything counts: The forest walks, cuddling the micro pigs at the local animal farm, the cinema trips, the football lessons, the afternoon art sessions when they have soiled the living room carpet with red paint, bonding with the cousin who visited, the Grandparents they’ve spent quality time with, the rock-pooling at their local beach, the latest Harry Potter book they’ve devoured (adventures which could rival anything found at an Orlando theme park), the cakes they’ve baked, the plants they’ve grown, the bike they’ve learned to ride, the town’s indoor pool they’ve learned to swim a width of.
And on and on and on. See – it is easy to forget just how much you can pack in to a six week holiday.
Sometimes our greatest adventures happen in our own backyard. Sometimes the lessons and inspiration these provide us with are far greater than anything we could pick up on the coat tails of our parents’ never-ending holiday budget!
A great way to give children “physical” proof of this is with a Gratitude Jar. Children simply add small rectangles of paper to a jar (coloured strips are infinitely prettier) with the memory of the experience they have enjoyed written on it, and then folded over. At the end of the holidays (and even again at the end of the year) they will have brilliant fun tipping the papers out and reading them, remembering how much they have gotten the chance to see, have and do!
2: Extensive travel can sometimes be wasted on the young.
Which makes me sound like I am totally contradicting myself as I am renowned for harping on about the importance of holidaying out of the comfort zone, and encouraging the parents of this world to travel it fearlessly with their kids, remembering it is one gorgeous oyster. But what I mean is this: when we take travel and far-flung exotic holidays for granted, we will never get the best from those experiences. Which is why incremental adventure tends to work better.
There’s a journey…
Parents work hard to save up for that exciting week in Corfu/Woolacombe, Devon, or yes, the campsite I mentioned above in Brittany, France. And so parents (and children) anticipate the sights, sounds and smells before they even set foot off that plane/out of that car/ off that ferry. They visualise the new territory. They get butterflies in their stomachs. They might even learn the language and find out some interesting facts about the area. But when travel is so non-stop that there’s hardly time to come up for air, that’s when it’s something that’s snatched at, yawned at and unappreciated.
I know because I have been there!
Not as a child, no (although I was far from hard done by with holidays all over Devon until the age of eleven and at least a two or three-weeker Mediterranean vacation per year thereafter!). But in my former career, I was on a plane every month, always to somewhere new, always to somewhere that was “totally yesterday… sigh.”
Adults and children alike can have too much of a good thing, and the most epic holidays are definitely those which are savoured. It’s never too early to teach our kids a little travel appreciation.
Similarly, it’s never too early to encourage them to dream about all of the cities and countries they’d love to visit when they get to make their own holiday decisions. Give them a Travel Journal and get them started. There really is no time like the present. I remember as a small child at primary school, my Bestie would often go to Spain or Italy and I’d daydream about how amazing it must have been as I held her postcard with utter wanderlust in my hand.
Turns out I got pretty good because now I am living in The Med!
In fact Arm Chair Travelling is an actual thing (particularly in the literary world, where we can read about gazillions of intrepid adventures)… and certainly one way of seeing the globe minus the hassle.
The most important thing is we listen to our kids; after all, the school holidays are meant to be fun. Whether we have spent ours in our homeland this year, or somewhere a million miles away, giving our kids a say in the proceedings is a great way to ignite all kinds of passions and interests.
Some of which will hopefully rub off on the most unadventurous of parents!