With the winter school holidays here, parents are encouraged to plan ahead in order to enjoy valuable family time and a hassle-free break.
Caroline Guillemain-Brunne is the life assistant you never knew you needed, the founder of Organise.Curate.Design, a lifestyle management agency that helps people tackle their to-do lists and manage time more effectively.
"School holidays can be an extremely stressful time, especially for working parents," she says, offering the following advice.
Create a calendar. "Before the school holidays begin, we sit down and fill out a calendar for the upcoming two weeks," says Caroline. "This helps the kids see what I have planned, and for them to suggest some fun things they want to do outside the home."
Know your budget. Set a budget for activities outside the home and stick to it. "While it can be fun to take the kids to the movies, play centres and sporting events, it can also get expensive," says Caroline. "Create a balance between these activities and down time at home, so you have one or two days filled with movies and play centres between activities at home and more affordable things like trips to the park."
Use activity cards. Create activity cards that children can use to plan out their day. "The hardest part about school holidays is needing to find activities to entertain your children each day," says Caroline. "At the start of the holidays, I sit down with my kids and write down a whole range of activities on cards and put them into a hat. When my children get to the 'I'm bored' stage, we pull out the hat and pick out cards that they can do by themselves or that we can do together. They can be as simple as playing board games, having a movie night at home or going to the zoo."
Have healthy snacks. "Children are constantly hungry, so it is important to have healthy snacks on hand, both pre-packaged and fresh, so they aren't filling themselves with sugar. One of the activities we do is to cook together so my children can create their favourite treats and they know this is in the fridge when they need," Caroline says.
Call on your community. Ask for help! Arrange playdates or bring in a babysitter. "If possible, share the load with other working parents and schedule playdates or sleepovers," says Caroline.
Take time for yourself. School holidays are a huge change in your routine so find some time in the busy two weeks for yourself.
"Having your children at home can be fantastic, but it can also be really draining so it is important to take care of yourself,' says Caroline.
She advises you to take the opportunity to lie in and snuggle your kids, but also schedule them to have a sleepover with a friend or family so you can go have a coffee by yourself and run errands.