real life

The school holiday routine every parent should stick to.


It can be so tempting to just give up on everything during the school holidays, and this is what I used to do. Just give up. Drained from the stress of getting the kids ready for school each morning and racing to work each day, I’d take annual leave during their school holidays and we’d all slump on the nearest bed or lounge chair for two weeks, getting up whenever we liked, eating irregularly and falling into bed well past our usual bedtimes.

It was like a frat house, or so it seemed from the many college movies I’ve watched out of the US, except our frat parties were made up of Nutella eaten off spoons, Cornflakes for dinner and endless cups of tea for me and hot Milo for them.

Looking back now, I see that I was suffering from Parental Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, resulting from going back to work after my children had started school.

Run kids, run!

Suffering from PPTSD is easily solved as soon as you wake up and realise that sticking to a routine is key, even during down times. You don't have to be as strict with your routine as you are during the school term. You can be a little looser and a little less rushed. But sticking as close as possible to wake up and bedtimes makes it so much easier when school goes back.

What I discovered that first, chaotic school holidays, was that my lax attitude to anything resembling a routine would soon catch up to me. I tried to get the kids back on track the Friday before school came back but it was harder than I anticipated. They weren't tired at 8pm because they'd slept in until 9 that morning. I realised that I'd have to wake them up earlier the next day if I wanted them to go to bed early.


Waking up tired children who didn't fall sleep until close to 10 is easier said than done.

I blasted the TV from 7am and made pancakes for breakfast. That did the trick. They were grumpy but they all stumbled into the kitchen. I let them eat breakfast in their pyjamas. Then we got dressed and got out of the house. I ran them around the park for hours before we had a quick lunch. Then back home for a bit of relaxation before dinner and bedtime. It worked and they fell a sleep a little earlier. By Sunday night I'd undone the worst of my decision making that first school holidays. But I learned my lesson.

It's much easier to keep kids on track the entire school holidays instead of having to devote an entire weekend to tiring them out enough to go to bed on time just one night before school.

Lesson learned, for all of us.

Do you stick to a routine during the school holidays or do you let it all fall by the wayside?

It's almost time to start packing school lunches again. Here are a few ideas that are amazing and may serve as inspiration.

Did you like this? Then try:

5 ways to deal with a toddler who thinks bedtime is a choice.

8 ways to get kids more active.