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Vacation: Summer sanity

July 18, 2010

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It's that time of the year again — the dreaded summer vacation. Now many women opt for the easy way out and enrol their kids into a fashionable summer camp for the entire duration. But if that's not an option for you, you have to figure out how to get through the horrendous two months by your own wits.

Some of you may have parents, in-laws and siblings who are willing to baby-sit from time to time but beware, even the most doting grandparents have a breaking point. Eventually it will be just you and your children; for times like this, it's best to chalk out your plan of campaign very carefully.

Maintain a daily routine

Summer vacations are seen by some kids as a ticket to sleep till all hours, but if you want to retain some vestige of sanity set down a cut-off hour for everyone to leave their bed. Icy cold water sprinkled on the face is a reliable eye-opener for repeat offenders.

Use the fact that your children are at home as an opportunity to train them in the finer things of life — cleaning, dusting, putting their clothes away, etc. etc. If you have two or more kids (the more the merrier), then you are luckier than you think. Once they get used to duties, kids are a big help. They work fast because they like to get boring stuff over with quickly. Get them to tidy up for you while you cook, this way most of your work is done before noon with plenty of time to do 'fun stuff'.

Fun stuff

Your child's idea of fun probably involves sitting for endless hours in front of the computer with blank, staring, expressionless eyes, commenting in some strange gibberish (with lots of spelling mistakes) on stuff like “Aliya just took the 'Am I the most gorgeous girl in the world' quiz.

Summer vacations are a good opportunity to get them involved in some old fashioned fun; if they are not agreeable at first, simply pull all the wires out of the back of the computer. Bring out the old board games (you will enjoy a game of Ludo and Monopoly just as much as them) and also challenge them to a round of badminton or 'baraf-pani' to get them out of doors into the (somewhat) fresh air.

If you can afford it, take your kids to a swimming pool; if not, don't despair; a park nearby offers fresh air, a nice brisk walk or a game of cricket with your kids for free.

Art and craft

Give your children a place where they can make a mess (spreading out old sheets on the floor perhaps) and give them poster paints, chart, glitter, crayons, markers and any other art material that takes your fancy. Most kids (of all ages) love to use these things and it keeps them occupied in a positive and very creative way. Perhaps you might discover your own latent artistic abilities if you join in as well.

Movies

DVDs are a lifesaver; get some of the most popular children's movies, stock up on popcorn and cold drinks (or fruit juice if you are worried about your protruding waistline) and enjoy.

Books

Get your kids into the reading habit, even if you have to tie them down in a chair to do so. Pick an age appropriate book and read out loud, perhaps whenever they complain of being bored. They will soon get interested enough to pick up the book and finish the story themselves.

Kitchen duty

Teach your kids some easy to cook dishes that they like to eat. It doesn't matter whether they are boys or girls; point out how cool Jamie Oliver is if your sons balk at the idea. Pasta dishes are usually very easy and always good to eat. If you have an enthusiastic young cook definitely go for cakes and cookies , maybe eventually working your way up to biryani.

Most of the time we are so caught up in everyday chores and problems that these precious moments slip away and, before we know it, our kids are all grown up and busy in their own lives.

Look at the holidays as an opportunity to get to know your kids and to really talk to them. They'll feel more comfortable bringing their problems to you and hopefully, it will avoid the rift that often develops as our children get older. And, most importantly, you will all have had a fun-filled vacation.