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Friday, April 30, 2010

Tips to make summer vacations interesting


So it’s that time of the year when the schools have shut, the sun is at its furious best and the husband is so piled up with work that there is absolutely no chance of you packing your bags and leaving…..or maybe that will happen at the end of the vacation, but not right now. And for the next three weeks at the least you are going to be very much locked up inside the house during the day, your bundle of joy and energy there to give you company.
Or is it really going to be such a joy after all? I mean, come to think of it, most often these vacations mean an endless pile of toys and books on the floor, dirty food and shoe marks on your couch and furniture, bouts of crying and screaming, you having to run around the house trying to make your little one eat something, trying to clean up after the mess, searching for the remote and switching off the TV endless number of times. And even before it is mid-day, you are ready to pull out your hair, wondering if this is only the beginning???!!!!!!
Well, all holidays need not be this way…..there can be many ways to keep your child occupied and under check, thus saving yourself the nagging and screaming, and making the vacations a fun-filled time to look forward to.
Here are a few tips that might help you help your child during those long months of summer, when the sun is too harsh to play outside in the day, and all your ideas have to be focused indoors:
1. Vacation is the perfect time to bring out those toys that have been forgotten and pushed to the bottom of the toy basket. Let your child re-discover these old toys.
2. Vacations are also a good time to introduce your child to the world of books. Make this an interesting activity for the child during vacations. Sort out all the books that are already there in your child’s bookshelf, then sit together and read a story, or let your child read a new one each day. If the child is small, you may encourage them to read it first and then tell you what they read. For younger children, read out or help them spend time with brightly-illustrated books. You may arrange trips to the nearby book-store and encourage your child to browse through the books, buying them a new one each time they finish a previous book.
3. Summer time is a great time to make milk-shakes and other fun recipes in the kitchen. Include your child in these activities and turn the kitchen time into a fun time. Let them help you with preparing their own shakes, this way the child will appreciate the effort you put in for their meals, and will also learn about fruits, dairy products and other ingredients. For ex. if your child likes banana milk shake, give them a banana and tell them to peel it properly. You can then ask them to put some milk in the blender. Taking out the ice cubes from the tray will also be fun. Once the shake is ready, you can ask the child to decorate their glass the way they want. Help them with a few accessories, like a fancy straw, or ask them to make an umbrella out of foil and decorate the glass.
4. If your child has friends in the building or neighbourhood, one very interesting idea is too arrange for ‘share-a-toy’ afternoons. You can previously decide on a day when you want to invite kids to your place. This will help you prepare for the do in advance. To start with invites, you can tell your child to make simple paper cards, drawing anything they want on the cover and you can help them with writing the name of each individual friend on the cards. Mention the date, day and time in the card. You can ask them to bring along 5 books or 5 toys of their own. Once each child brings 5 books/toys each, you can pile it all on the living room floor and let the children play from the stack. For snacks, you can keep ready an assortment of finger-foods. You can include healthy fruit salads, or raisin-and-corn, cheese dips with carrot sticks, leafy cabbage and carrot sandwich, pasta with lots of vegetables, or even something as simple as cornflakes in different flavours. Keep lots of bright bowls, plates and cups around, but make sure they are all unbreakable. Also, since you are calling a group of young kids to your place, it will be a good thing to invite the mums as well. Along with keeping an eye on their respective kids, it will also make for a nice coffee time with your girl friends.
5. Painting is always fun when done with the appropriate precautions. If your little child likes to get dirty with colours, let her have her fun share of shades this vacation. Spread out old sheets of newspaper on the floor and let your child draw and paint. You can use poster colours, sketch pens, crayons, water colours, anything that holds their fancy. Make sure to check the labels for non-toxic certification. Since it is hot you can let your child take off their dress and just wear an old vest, as they are sure to spill colour on their clothes. If they are to be dressed, bring out some old clothes to wear. Try and do these activities before bath time, so that later you can clean them up.
6. If there is a swimming pool in your building or in the neighbourhood, bring out the swimming gear and take your child to the pool. You can carry water toys and a tube and may ask your friends to bring along their kids as well. Summer times are ideal to join in a swimming class. If you do not know how to swim, you may join in together with your child, thus making an interesting use of your and your child’s time.
7. Water time can be made interesting even at home. If you have a bath tub at home you can take your child’s help to fill it up with water and then add a little bubble-bath soap or regular soap to it. Fill up the tub with little toys, mostly plastic, that will not get damaged in water. You can even give them little squirt toys to play with in the water.
8. Most schools have summer camps during the vacations. Check with your child’s school and if there is any age-appropriate activity happening, get them enrolled.
9. Children at home will invariably want to watch TV and it is not practical to expect them not to. You can utilise the TV Time to your own benefit too. The market today is flooded with interesting educational DVDs that teach various things like rhymes, alphabets, numbers, animals, colours and many more things. You can take your child to the store and together, pick up a few DVDs that they are interested in. Once back home, tell your child that she/he can only watch TV for some time and not the whole day. Let them select what they want to watch from their DVDs. If it is song and rhyme DVD, encourage them to sing and dance along. If you are alone at home with the child you can switch on the TV at a time that will be helpful to you, for ex when you have to be in the kitchen for the cooking, or when you are doing the laundry and think it might be difficult to keep an eye on the child. Engage them in what they are watching, but do pop out your head every once in a while and see how they are doing.
10. Encourage your child to make a ‘summer vacation’ scrapbook. Buy them a scrapbook with lovely bright coloured paper and tell them to write their favourite summer things in the same. You can also take pictures of what you do throughout the vacation and keep pasting them in the scrapbook one at a day. Tell your child to do a brief write-up near each picture, so that next time when the vacations are around, they will have many ideas to spend the time.
11. Do some craft together. A very interesting activity that can be done at home with the help of a parent is making candles. These are simple and non-messy and involve creativity and ideas. Just get a few glass objects from the market, like small bowls or glasses, a roll of wick and any decorative item that your child might want to put in the candle. All of these can be easily obtained in any hobby store or even a stationer’s. Tell your child to fill up the candle and decorate it the way they want. When it is time to heat the wax, you should NEVER let the child handle fire on its own. Lighting the fire and melting the wax should ONLY be done by an adult, preferably a parent. Once school resumes, your child can gift these hand-made candles to the class teacher, principal and class mates.
12. Summer times are good times to take your child for a trip to the aquarium. Find out the nearby aquariums and check their timings. The internet lists many such places, along with their timings and contact numbers. Take your child to one such place and tell them about each and every creature that you see. Check with the authorities if you can click pictures.
13. If you have hand-puppets at home you can arrange for a puppet show. Invite your child’s friends home and do a puppet show. Tell them to participate as well.
14. Arrange for a story-telling session where every child comes up with a story. You can make it more interesting by asking one child to begin and then asking the others to add up to the story one by one.
15. In the evenings when the weather is a little cooler, take them to the park and let them engage in unrestrained physical activity for at least an hour. Let them go on the swing, play on the slide, on the merry-go-round and other such rides. There are many more games like hopscotch, catch and run, hide and seek and others. Let your child play with your friends while you keep a watch.
16. Make shower time fun time. You can get your child to bring their dirty clothes like vest or a t-shirt and tell them to sit under the shower and soap it. Some days when you have to clean your child’s toys, ask them to help by soaping and scrubbing the toys in the shower.
17. Your child can create beautiful palm print artwork by using lots of poster colours.
18. Let your child get creative. Help them make beautiful pen holders using old jars and mugs. Bring out old cardboard boxes and tell them to make a city of their own. They can make skyscrapers by painting windows and balconies and make parks and parking lots using these old boxes. They can make many more things like a hospital, school, restaurant, mall, movie hall and chemist. Once they have enough you can help them arrange it all and make their own city.
19. Many girls enjoy playing kitchen. Bring out their kitchen set and add a few ‘real’ items from your own kitchen. Give them a list of things you want them to make and help them by giving a few instructions.
20. Take your child out when you go to bring the groceries. Take their help in making a list of items that need to be bought. Once at the store, you can hand them their list and a basket or trolley and tell them to get their supplies.
21. In all these activities, make sure daddy too participates in a few.
22. Summer vacation means time for holiday home work as well. Make sure one parent sits with the child and helps with the work. Take interest in the school assignments and make the craft and arts part more interesting.
23. Some days can be movie days when you and your child can sit together on the couch and watch some of your favourite movies. Make a big bowl of popcorn and sit together, relaxing and not talking about any school work.
24. Do make a trip out somewhere, even if it is just a weekend. Many of your child’s friends would be going out somewhere or the other and will talk about it once school re-opens. If your budget and time are restrained, make a small trip to a nearby place, where you can take your child out for nature walks and other such activities to make the trip interesting and memorable. The trip need not be expensive, check the internet for options near your home, for places that are a little off-beat. You will have a better chance of securing accommodation, as well as getting a good deal on the tariff.

So...go out and make the most of this vacation ... for your child as well as for yourself.... :))