As we move towards a discipleship family lifestyle that isn’t dictated to by schools we have the freedom to manage our days as it suits our family. The school system is clearly divided up into 4 terms, with 2-6 week holiday break in between each term. Does this suit our family?
When we get asked, “Do you take school holidays?” I often um and arr about my answer. Yes, we do, but no we don’t.
Yes we do – we change our routine because it is a good time to catch up with many of our friends. In fact the school holidays are some of the busiest times of the year and to be honest, we more often than not take an extra week off just to recover! (I actually consider many of the activities we do with other families part of my children’s specific education.)
No we don’t – learning happens day in and day out, the kids continue with their reading (because it is a part of their life), they continue with their writing (because they have something to say!), they continue asking questions and they continue finding answers. This is learning and I can’t tell them to stop just because it is a holiday break! The other aspect to “no, we don’t” is our routine. The children are so much more peaceful and creative when we have order in our home. So we maintain a routine during our study breaks, albeit a different routine than during our study times.
Some people think that if you have a routine for your holiday time you are not free to be spontaneous but that is being on a scheduling, not a routine. A routine is simply a sequence of habits. There are two parts two having a routine –
- The routine should reflect reality – what habits are you happy with help you get through your day, these should be the basis of your routine.
- The routine should help with the discipline it requires to work on the areas of your day that you are not happy with – to help you form new habits.
A holiday routine is not about taking away the freedom to have fun and relax. It is about keeping in balance your responsibilities and your freedoms.
There are times that we are not home so we don’t have our quiet individual time after lunch. This is okay, mind you, when my children were little this habit was a priority, nowadays, we can all cope with a full day out of the home. The routine isn’t so we don’t do things, but rather when we are at home there is order in the home, and we use our time wisely.
Because our daily routine has a discipleship focus it isn’t really that hard to shift gears – in a sense our holiday routine looks pretty close to our study routine (but the differences are there):
6-8.30am Relationship time and Responsibilities
The children maintain their personal devotions, and we continue to work on issues of character as we relate to each other. The chores still need to be done throughout the day. We are not as rigorous on starting the day at 6.00am – though for a few of my children this has become habit and it is hard for them to sleep in.
8.30-12.30 Discipleship time
During the term (or as we call it – study block) we try and focus on discipleship in areas of personal development or academic areas, though life happens and presents many other opportunities for discipleship as well. During our break times, we keep a discipleship focus in that we look for opportunities for the children to learn from Peter or myself, but our day to day plans are more towards creative talents and relationship activities (such as playing games together)
12.30 – 1.30 Lunch and Chore time
1.30 – 3.00 Individual time
We maintain this aspect of our routine – if we are at home. This is the time the kids have some quiet time to themselves and some time together. They often listen to audios, read books, and work on creative projects. The key idea with this block of time is
- a small amount of Quiet time for everyone (not the whole time)
- focus time for mum (don’t interrupt mum – unless there’s blood and no breathing!!)
3.00 – 5.00 Free time
During these few hours we encourage productivity in either their relationships or projects
5.00-6.00 Chore time
6.00-8.00 Family time, get ready for bed etc.
Do you have a routine for your holiday times? What are the key parts that hold your day together?
Hey Belinda, I’m at the stage where my oldest is 3 and I also have a baby who is not yet 1.
Is running our day like this with set blocks and quiet room time, time for chores, for me to focus ?? On anything other than keeping them alive and unharmed.. is that a possibility for me yet? It does often feel like survival in a tough stage rather than me being in control of our days. We do lots of great learning but it’s not very routine. I’d love your thoughts. 😊
Hi Annette – yes – this routine is for slightly older kids but I was doing this type of blocks of time when my kids were very little – 1 onwards.
The good thing with ‘blocks’ is it gives you a purpose/priority for each block rather than looking closely at the clock.
With Preschool age kids my blocks were more like:
Breakfast / Chores / Outside play – I would continue with the housework while they played outside.
Focus time – depending on their age we would do playpen time (where the child practices to play in a playpen/cot by themselves for a period of time) and/or table time (where they child sits at the table and does an age appropriate activity). We would also have story time at this time.
Then there would be free play. I would generally monitor how long they played with an activity – if they started getting niggly I would move them on to a new activity.
At this age we mostly had an early lunch – (we probably had an early breakfast compared to other people). Then nap time – my kids napped till around 4-6yo)
The afternoon was either outings (town chores, pool, library, friends etc) or free play. Kids had 1/2 hour tv.
Free play was always guided by them doing it well. If they got bored I’d move them on. So often in this season of life I would do 10 minutes with the kids and then 10 minutes doing something myself. And around and around we’d go through the day! LOL.
Hope this gives you a little to work with. The benefit of this type of routine is that the kids learn the skills to play by themselves. It is intense at the beginning and you may not get much else done but in the long run it pays off.
A book that you might find helpful is: Terrific Toddlers by Mel Hayde.