School holidays are here! Expert tips on how to survive the holiday mayhem

Old-school solutions like books and games to keep the kiddies entertained. Picture by National Cancer Institute /unsplash

Old-school solutions like books and games to keep the kiddies entertained. Picture by National Cancer Institute /unsplash

Published Jun 23, 2023


We've reached the halfway mark of the year, which means it's time for South African pupils to take a break from the books and enjoy some well-deserved time off.

But with load shedding, cold weather and the everyday chaos of caring for your little ones, it's easy to feel like you're in survival mode.

Don't worry – it's possible to not only survive but thrive during the school holidays.

With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can keep your kids entertained, take care of yourself, and make the most of this special time of year.

So, let's dive into some expert tips for keeping everyone afloat and enjoying the mayhem of the school holidays.

23% of mothers and 14% of fathers of school-age children say having their child at home during the school holidays creates stress. Can you relate?

The July school holidays, which last 25 days (including weekends), are the second longest break of the school year, following the 35-day break between December and January.

“It’s no wonder then that most parents are left in a holidaze – a state of utter exhaustion - following the winter break. But with some survival strategies in place, they can make it through without going mad,” said Daniela van den Berg, a mom who is also the Head of Creative at

Her advice to parents is to adopt the motto of the United States Coast Guard: 'Semper Paratus,' meaning "always ready" amid the upcoming chaos, noise, and endless demands.

“A little bit of planning now can help you hold onto your sanity just long enough for the kids to go back to school,” she added.

Below, van den Berg shares some tips to help take the stress out of these school holidays:

Put yourself in time out: Chauffeuring little ones to and from playdates, feeding them, and coming up with creative activities to ward off boredom can all add more pressure to already overwhelmed parents.

Make sure to set aside some time for self-care, whether it is listening to loud metal music, indulging in some of your secret chocolate stash, or simply enjoying a glass of wine to deal with everyone's complaints.

There of course are the more traditional options like taking aromatherapy baths, journalling and meditation – but best you invest in some noise-cancelling headphones if you decide to go this route.

It’s hard to take care of yourself when caring for young children, but it’s harder when you don’t take care of yourself.

Stacks of snacks: Full mouths mean less moaning and groaning so make sure you’ve stocked up on all your kids’ favourite foods. You’ll also need to ensure that you regularly replenish your personal supply.

Get out: We know the saying too much of anything is bad even though fewer screens mean more screaming time.

Family potrait. Picture by Volodymyr Hryshchenko /Unsplash

It's good to sometimes let your children run around in the backyard, even though it's winter.

According to research, being in green areas is associated with greater health, including reduced stress, enhanced vision, and a stronger immune system.

“One way of getting older kids away from the Xbox is to pay them to mow the lawn. Not only will this keep them out of your hair for a bit, but it will also give them something productive to do. Who’s bored now, Junior?" said van den Berg.

Go low-tech: While load shedding has lessened (for now), it is still a part of everyday life, so you might need to turn to old-school solutions like books and games to keep the kiddies entertained.

Plus, studies have shown that not only does reading reduce stress by up to 68%, but it does so better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea.

“One in five parents acknowledge that their stress levels negatively affect their child's enjoyment of the holidays. As the kids say, don’t kill the vibe! Try and use this time to relax, unwind and bond with your children. It’s all about snatching moments of peace and joy amongst the chaos,” highlighted van den Berg.