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Johannesburg - With the school holidays upon us, many parents are at their wits’ end as to how to keep their children constructively occupied.
But experts say there’s no need to worry, given the many activities on offer. Creative parenting expert, speaker and author Nikki Bush, says parents need to recognise that children need activities and stimulation to save them from boredom and loneliness.

“Parents would then look at holiday camps, enrolling children in courses such as coding, crafts and construction. You can find all sorts of things for children to do.

“If you’re going to be home with your children during the holidays, make the quality time with your children count,” says Bush, adding that most working parents spend no more than two or three hours with their children on any given day.

“This is the time we create rich, warm, fuzzy memories, so take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with your children and to engage with them consciously.”

You can hang around together, eating meals and chatting, Bush says.

Switch off your phone (and theirs).

“Be prepared with a game. It can be a word game or anything, and play around the table or around the car.”

Bush suggests leaving gadgets behind when you go to a restaurant.

“If you’re going to be with your children, be with them. It’s important to do things together.

“Even if it’s colouring-in, do it with your children; allow them to tell you where they want you to colour-in.”

While food can be different from one family to another, Bush reflects on how her mother always makes fudge for Christmas and involves her grandchildren in making it.

“Children remember rituals of how you go on holiday. If you always go to the same place for a holiday, generally you’d stop at the same place for breakfast.

“They remember things like that. Never underestimate the power of rituals. Create thoughtful, fun, doable activities for and with your children.”

There are also online resources available such as www.jozikids.co.za for parents who feel they have run out of ideas.

The portal is an online directory for families on activities to enjoy over the festive season.

Jozi Kids owner and director Merle Dieterich says the online information service is a detailed calendar of daily, ongoing and holiday events.

“It’s a resource for people to find anything to do with children in Gauteng. It’s a support for parents. We want to be there for parents who need help and are looking for things.

“Parents can also find support services too, such as couple’s therapists and family councillors.

“There are over 1200 organisations that use Jozi Kids to tell people what they have to offer,” says Dieterich.

The service, she says, features a calendar for over 100 different types of activities, and it grows daily.

“It includes a mixture of programmes for children, such as cooking, drama, arts and crafts, and science.

“Sleepover holiday camps are also available.

“And for parents who want to send their kids away, there is something called holiday care, which offers full-day care.

“We also have places to go with the family.

“If parents need their kids to be occupied in the first two weeks before they leave work, they can find places to send their kids then and in the last two weeks of the holidays, which tends to be when even involved parents can run out of ideas or steam and need help,” Dieterich says.

The Sunday Independent