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Making the most of the last of the school holidays

It’s been a long long school holidays. In some cases schools have broken up beginning of December here in the southern hemisphere and most schools don’t go back until 30 January.

It’s easy to get complacent and think you have lots of times ahead but suddenly, it will creep up and the school holidays will be almost over. So, now is the time to make the most of your last week and pack it full of fun stuff that makes memories for all the family.

Here are some somewhat different ideas on how to spend your last week of the school holidays:

  1. ‘Your Choice’ Day

Everyone in the family gets to choose one thing they really want to do before they go back to school/ work (you can always have a budget limit on this to stop it getting out of control).

-We are doing this great fun thing in our family where we got an A3 piece of paper and stuck it on the fridge and everyone is allowed to write on it what they want to do before the holiday ends/ they can choose up to 3 things. Parents can choose 3 things too then we get to vote for one thing per person so everyone gets a ‘holiday day’ to plan with something they really want to do. (by allowing everyone to choose 3 things it also allows us parents to weedle out the impossible!!).

– Examples of what people can put on the list can vary from playdates to parks to beach to bike rides to museum visits to dinners out – whatever.

Eg Our list looks like this – with decisions on what we are doing highlighted:

  •         Shakespeare Regional Park (me), Ferry to Devonport for the day (me), Whitewater rafting at Vero waterpark (me)
  • Rainbows end (sasha), sleepover with 2 friends (sasha), train to town and art gallery & sushi train (sasha)
  • Visit as many scooter parks in Auckland as possible (Jack), Pariki Springs (Jack), Whoa Studios (Jack)
  • Wild on Waihiki (husband), Cambridge to see races (husband), 9 holes of golf (husband)

Thereby everyone gets a vote and it’s ‘their’ day and everyones happy and good to do what the others want when it’s their day.

  1. ‘Dinner Cook-off’

We’ve already done this last week and it’s great fun. Everyone in the family gets a day that they are in charge of dinner. They also get to nominate one family member (must be a parent if it’s a child cooking and vice-versa if it’s an adult cooking) to act as their helper. When you’re in charge of dinner you get to decide what is for dinner that night and you need to prep, cook it and clear-up. You are also in-charge of setting and clearing the table, deciding what’s for dessert etc.

It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated eg we’ve had nachos, quesadillas, spag bol and risotto.

We’ve had Ernest Adam apple pie for dessert one night, ice-cream another night, ice-cream on a stick another night and a box of roses chocolates another night!

Because the child is paired with an adult the adult can help with the hard tasks and oversee to make sure it’s not a complete disaster.

At the end of the 4 nights, everyone does a ‘blind vote’ ie writes the name of their fav dinner on a piece of paper – it mustn’t be their own – and we open the papers and see who wins. (My son won!) The winner gets to choose a movie for us to watch as a family AND dinner for one night the following week – that someone else must cook.

It was such a success in our house that we are doing it again next week!

3. An “Unroutine Day” – Start the day early – rather than having a ‘lie-in’ which we always do in the holidays, do something you can never normally do on a ‘routine’ day. i.e. get up, throw on your togs and go to the beach for an early morning swim or a walk along the beach or in the park before breakfast. Take it one step further and take a flask of coffee for the adults and some juice/ milk for the kids and some muffins and have a breakfast picnic after your walk or swim at the beach or park. Either way you’ll all be ready for breakfast after!

4. “Unplanned Day Trip” –

Go on a day trip – decide a destination for the day, get up early, pack the picnic, the towels and togs and drive. Here’s the thing – drive straight to your destination and do what you want to do there (it could be hot pools/ a sculpture walk/ a maze / a lake/ river etc) – HOWEVER, on the way home, make sure you leave lots of time to STOP and do whatever else the region has to offer on the journey back – when you see a sign saying ‘museum’ or ‘cable-car’ or ‘hot pools’ or ‘viewpoint’ – stop and spend time there and look. DON’T be in a rush to get home – spend time enjoying the other sites on offer. We did this recently – on a day trip we saw a sign for the Zealong Tea place – we stopped and had ‘high tea’ with pastries and cakes and tea for all of us – including the kids. The children LOVED it. We also saw a sign for a heritage house – the house was closed for Christmas but we got to explore and enjoy the gardens.

  1. Try new stuff

Try new things you wouldn’t normally do. In term time we all get caught up on all the sports/ dance and other activities that you do weekly with school or just after school. Holidays is a great time to try something completely different and really get you and your children out of their comfort zone. My son HATES swimming but we have paid for him to have lessons just he and his sister this week whilst it’s quieter and the normal after-school programme isn’t on. My daughter is keen to try something different so she is doing a drama workshop one day. It could be an art day or pottery day or a new sport – like if your child doesn’t play soccer normally then book him in for a day to try it whilst the normal crew who go aren’t there. My son was actually really keen to try gymnastics and didn’t want to do it in term-time as he thought his friends might make comments. He did a trial and actually didn’t like it but he tried it so that was great.

So – put yourself out there and do something different and make really good use of the last week in the holidays!

Written by

Jacqui Lockington is a working mum. Jacqui works full-time for an advertising agency in New Zealand and juggles life at work with being mum to two young children, Jack and Sasha. Jacqui is married to John and has published her first book with co-author, Nat - If Only They'd Told Me. She does public speaking and regularly blogs and records podcasts. Jacqui trained in journalism in London and worked in radio, newspapers, public relations and advertising before moving to New Zealand where she currently lives with her family. You can contact Jacqui at