Awkward Questions

Parenting | 10 Ways to Deal with Those Awkward Questions

Awkward QuestionsChildren are so inquisitive. They love information. They ask constant questions as their minds are continuously processing everything they see and hear in the world around them. Children come to their parents all the time to clarify the things they don’t really understand. As parents, we want to help our children learn and understand yet sometimes when they ask an ‘awkward question’ it is tempting to gloss over it (and maybe run for the hills and hope when we get back they will have forgotten!).

There are so many issues that parents can find difficult to discuss with their children. Depending on our own experiences and beliefs, how ‘awkward’ a question is for us as individuals can vary hugely. For many parents, those awkward questions may include: “Where do babies come from? What is sex? What is gay? Why does he have two mammies? Why don’t I have a mammy? Why don’t I have a daddy? What is homeless?” By not answering awkward questions and telling children they are ‘too young’ to know such things, we are making taboos of so many subjects that are normal in our society. Children will learn quickly not to ask us anymore, and then they will in time find other sources – perhaps unreliable sources – to answer their questions. A question will not go away until your child is satisfied with the answer they find.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we explore some strategies that as parents we can put in place to support us in answering those awkward questions that our children send our way.

  1. Don’t try to fob a child off by changing the subject or saying they are too young. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to get some information.
  2. Be honest in an age appropriate way. This does not mean you wait until they are teens to tell them things (when you may be even more embarrassed). Give children little bits of information to match what they can understand as they develop. Plant the seeds and build the tree over time with them.
  3. At times a question may upset you yet this is no reason to not answer it. You may have to explain to your child that this question makes you a little sad but that you will talk with them about it. A parent absent from your child’s life is often very difficult to talk about and many parents worry that their child will feel the rejection they themselves may have experienced, but remember that children have a different relationship with and perception of an absent person in their life. They will not feel the same as you. Here we explore ways to explain an absent parent.
  4. Be factual and try not to make the information about any subject into a fairy tale. Educate your child about families and all the diverse families in our society.
  5. If you make any issue into a taboo when children are young, they will be less inclined to talk openly with you when they are older. Try to have an open relationship with your child from the first days. Once they start talking to you, start talking and sharing with them. Remember that even though it may seem a long time away now, you don’t know what choices your child will make as they grow up and you don’t want them to think that you may be unsupportive of them in the future.
  6. Just because you explain once, that probably won’t mean that you’re off the hook. Children take pieces from each and every conversation. Some bits they recall and other bits get left behind. They will ask you again so try to be patient and answer them again. Maybe you can add in additional age appropriate detail the next time.
  7. There are many excellent books out there to support parents in talking with children about almost every topic. Perhaps you can get some books in the library and introduce them during story time. Plant the seeds of knowledge and allow your child to process the information and to know they can come back to you when they need to ask more questions.
  8. If your child has wrong information or understanding, such as about who their dad is or if they have the same parents as their sibling, then correct them from the first error. With many families we work with, children are growing up with step-parents having previously had a relationship as a baby with their other biological parent who separated from the family and they may have forgotten this. Try to keep the information clear, show them photos if you have them, be open and honest or you will only create more awkward situations in the future which can lead to your child losing trust in you. Always try to build your relationship based on trust.
  9. At times your child’s other parent might object to you answering these awkward questions. Try to talk with them and help them to understand why it is important to answer your child’s questions honestly. Once you are sharing age appropriate information, then you need not worry.
  10. Seek support from service providers such as One Family if you would you like support in talking with your child about challenging situations. Once you start to talk openly with your child and believe that you are the right person to help them understand the very complex world we live in, then it will become easier for you.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Sex Education, 10 Ways to Explain An Absent Parent or 10 Ways to Talk To Your Child About ‘Where Do I Come From’.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

10 Ways to Travel On Public Transport With Young Children

Boy on trainTravelling anywhere by any means with young children can be a challenge. These tips are intended to support you when travelling mostly on a bus or by train with young children.

  1. Boredom. Try to understand how boring the trip may be for your child. How can you make it less boring? You may feel you are also bored and that is just the way it is, but try telling your young child that and see how far you get.
  2. Distraction. Try to have lots of things in your bag that you can use to distract your child. Maybe have something like a doodle board that they only get when on the bus. You will be surprised how many small toys and gadgets you can take in your bag.
  3. Feed them. Often children can be hungry and thirsty when travelling. Maybe you were rushing to leave the house and they didn’t get to eat. Have simple snacks with you or a little lunch box with some small bites in it. Try to steer clear of anything that will be messy or that spills easily. You may also not want your child soiled when you are getting off the bus so think clean food – raisins, apples, grapes, plain biscuit, water etc.
  4. Engage with your child. It can be easy to sit on the bus and try to think and plan what you need to do while out. It is very hard for young children to have a parent with them who is really not present to them. Try to play games and talk with your child. ‘I spy’ can be a lot of fun. Read short stories and talk with them about what they see around them. Children generally enjoy adults engaging with them. If you are keeping them in the buggie try to position it in such a way that they can see other people. They may be amused watching others also.
  5. Plan ahead. Before going on the trip make sure you have a solid plan of action. Talk with your child about where you are going, acknowledge it is not ideal but that you need them to cooperate with you. Build something into the trip which they will enjoy E.g. Stopping at the park to feed the ducks, playing on the swings, or some other  special reward for cooperating.   Let them know that you understand it is hard for them and ask them to bring something with them for amusement. If possible, try to plan a trip when your child is due to nap.
  6. Involvement. Find ways to involve your child in the trip. Maybe they need some new paints or nappies. Talk with them about that being why they are coming. Give them a little responsibility around this task. Make a big deal of getting whatever it is. Children love things to be playful. Make it fun as much as you can. It can be fun if you just talk with them and get excited about the outing.
  7. Your mood. If you are tired or hungry when the trip is due to happen you can be sure it will not go well. IT is important that you plan for yourself too. Take a snack with you if you can’t eat before leaving.  Try not to plan trips when you are tired or children are sick.
  8. Keep trips as short as you can. Stopping endlessly to talk with people while keeping children confined to their buggie is usually not good. Be conscious of your child’s needs. Try every hour to let them out of the buggie for a run around.
  9. Praise. Tell your child during the trip how much you appreciate them coming with you and thank them for cooperating.  Acknowledge it is hard, but that they are doing well. Remind them of their reward. Sometimes we take children for granted. We expect that they should just cooperate; this should not be the case.
  10. When you’re done, thank your child again. Even if parts of the trip were hard, tell them about the parts they did well on. Focusing on what went wrong will not achieve anything. This is for you to think about later and to plan again for the next trip. Is there anything you can do differently? Before the next trip talk with your child again. Trust that they want to do well. Give them the reward and encourage them to work hard the next time, but support them in this.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

LIVE Facebook Q&A on this topic with Geraldine, 23 March from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook pageJoin in and post your questions.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Keep Your Child Safe When Out And About. 

Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Support Your Children Through Times Of Change.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

10 Ways to Feel Pride in Your Family

Family PrideIt is important for you and your children to have a sense of pride about your family. No matter what form your family takes, what wealth you may or may not have, or what activities you may or may not do, being secure in one’s family and self – which will nurture family pride – is achieved through building strong supportive relationships. It is the quality of these relationships at home that has most importance for a child’s outcomes. When every member of the family feels cherished and valued, they experience higher self-esteem which contributes to family self-esteem. To build strong relationships, establish pride and a sense of innate family self-esteem, we must encourage positive emotional growth in our children and in ourselves. In this week’s instalment of our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we looks at some ways to nurture positive growth and your family’s sense of pride.

  1. When children feel a sense of belonging and sense of pride in their families, they can be emotionally strong. Developing family rituals and traditions can bolster this.
  2. Giving children messages of encouragement enables them to develop a positive sense of who they are.
  3. Remember that for your child you are the expert – you are the all important ‘big’ person. How you behave impacts most strongly on your child. Develop pride in yourself as a parent and show pride in your family unit.
  4. When you get it wrong say, ‘I am sorry, I made a mistake’. Saying sorry does not weaken your role as a parent and models positive behaviour for your child.
  5. Keep organised. Simple tools such as a hand-drawn weekly planner on the ‘fridge can help with organising activities, menus, homework time etc. Knowing what is happening helps children to feel secure. Don’t be stressed if you do not have an always perfectly clean and tidy home. It’s difficult to achieve with children! What is important is that your home provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment for your child. Every member of the family should treasure their home and feel pride in their space.
  6. Spend some time thinking about how you can best meet your child’s needs and if there are changes you can make.
  7. Examine your needs as a parent. How can you meet these needs? Remember that the key to positive and successful parenting is to parent yourself first. You must meet your own needs so that you can best meet the needs of your child.
  8. Show affection towards each other. Expressing that you care both strengthens and celebrates your bond as a family unit.
  9. Think about respect within your family. Do you respect your children as you do other adults in your life? Do your children respect you? If not, think about why this is and what changes could be made.
  10. Aim to be a ‘good enough’ parent; no one is perfect and we do not want our children to feel they have to be perfect.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Coming up Next Week: 10 Ways to Understand Why Children Misbehave and the Power of Positive Parenting.

Next you might like to read: 10 ways to Parent Self Care or 10 ways to Improve your Child’s Self Esteem

LIVE Facebook Q&A on this topic with Geraldine, 26 January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook pageJoin in and post your questions.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

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10 Ways to Make Positive Parenting Changes

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Life often throws obstacles our way. Maybe you have had a tough year in 2014 and can recall more things that went badly than those that went well.  It happens to all of us at some time in our lives. Whether you feel this past year has been good or bad, this time as we transition into a new year can be the ideal time to take stock. It’s a good time to look back over the previous twelve months in a productive manner, with a view to making positive changes for your family in 2015. Give  yourself some quiet time to sit down with a notebook and pen, think about our suggestions below, and make your parenting plan for the brand new year ahead.

  1. Make a list of the top three things you love about your children.
  2. Make a list of the top three issues you can deal with well around parenting.
  3. Now that you are hopefully feeling a little more positive that things are never as bad as they seem, think about the things you need to make changes around.
  4. Name five areas of your parenting that you would like to change in the coming year. Write this plan into a nice diary or notebook that you will keep close with you all year. Or make a little poster and pin it up in your home to remind you of the goals you are setting for 2015.
  5. Start with introducing family meetings. If you don’t do this already then the time has come. As a parent your key role is to facilitate harmony in your home.  You cannot do this without everyone getting on board. Talk with your children about the idea of family meetings. Everyone gets to talk and be heard.  It’s a time for planning and sharing and most importantly solving issues. Have a family meeting book, use a notebook which will last the year and keep note each week of the meeting, the issues and the plan. This can make such a drastic change in families, you really should try it. When everyone is planning together and each family member feels they are being heard, then the plan is more likely to work. If it is your plan alone, you can bin it as it most likely will not work. Check out our 10 Ways to Run a Family Meeting for more information.
  6. Next you need to think about self-care. All parents need to make and value some time for themselves. This is especially valuable for anyone parenting on their own as no one else can do this for you so it’s important to acknowledge this and plan your own self-care. Without looking after yourself and meeting your own needs, you will not be able to continuously meet the needs of your family. Make a plan now of when you will get time out each week. What are your 3 top needs for this year? Name them and start planning. There is most often a simple way of meeting needs, but you have to be creative and positive that it is possible. Now write them up clearly and promise yourself that you deserve this time for you and your children will be much happier as a result. Happy Parents, Happy Home.
  7. Spend a week looking at you, at how you engage with your children. Is the picture one you like? If not then plan a change. Can you listen more and talk less? Can you ask for their story and not always tell yours? Can you empower your children to resolve their own issues instead of always trying to fix them for them? Can you put yourself in their shoes, what is life like for them? Can you talk with them and not at them? Can you see yourselves as team members who need to work together, cooperate with each other to get things done and needs met? Are the rules fair? Who made them? Is it time to review them? How many chances do you give? If the answer is more than one, then it’s time to think again. Talk with your child about choices, they choose to behave in certain ways, as do you, and we all face consequences. Are the consequences fair and does everyone face them?
  8. Think about your child’s other parent. What does it mean to your children to have two parents? Is your child’s other parent currently involved in parenting? What is your relationship like with the other parent? If there is room for improvement then try to make a change. Explore your style of communication and look at your role in any conflict. You can’t change your child’s other parent, you can only make changes for you, however positive changes often have ripple effects on others. For more suggestions, read 10 Ways to Explain an Absent Parent10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting and 10 Ways to Positively Maintain Contact.
  9. Remember to contact One Family if you would like parenting support. We offer a variety of online information, one-to-one-supports, and parenting courses including a new online parenting support course starting this Spring. Click here to find out more. Maybe these supports are what you need to help you as you make positive change happen.
  10. You can also call or email our askonefamily helpline to talk about what is challenging you when starting into this new year ahead. You have the answers already, but you may need some support to dig them out.

mum and son playingThis article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Next week we examine how to put routines into place.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on Monday 5th January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your question.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

Dad and children walking on beach

10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family

Problems are a normal part of life. Many families face situations in life that, despite our best efforts, we simply can’t ‘fix’.  Often there are other options we can explore and developing coping skills helps us to identify what these could be. Good coping skills also help us to learn to accept those situations that are beyond our control so we can feel better and progress, even if the problem still exists. Developing coping skills in our families makes us more resilient. Children learn from what they see and enabling them to develop these skills and resources will help them in countless ways as they progress through life.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ series we look at ways to develop coping skills within your family. Many of these suggestions are expanded upon in other ’10 Ways to’ articles which you can access by clicking on the links within the points below.

1. Do things together – eat, play, socialise – spend quality time together as much as possible to help strengthen your family’s bonds and relationships.

2. Talk and listen to each other; value the time you spend together.

3. Choose how to use your time. Prioritise what is most important, don’t stress if the little things don’t get done.

4. Show appreciation for each other. Demonstrate it with your words and actions.

5. Take care of your physical and mental needs, and those of your children. It is important to remember to look after the basics such as healthy eating, adequate sleep and social engagement.

6. Develop social supports in your community. This can seem challenging, especially if we don’t have friends or family members who live nearby, but there are many ways to increase our involvement in our communities and invest in building relationships. Get involved.

7. Actively do things which help reduce your stress levels. These can be as simple as a walk in the park, calling a friend, or focussing on taking deep, relaxing breaths.

8. Plan things; the everyday and the long term. Write out your plan, it will seem more manageable and help you to achieve your aims.

9. Don’t spend all day worrying and thinking about a problem – box it, and play with your children.

10. Seek professional supports and use them well. Many organisations offer these supports including One Family which provides a range of counselling and parenting supports focused on the needs of one-parent families, parents sharing parenting, parents experiencing separation, and their children; and those experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Our confidential lo-call askonefamily helpline is 1890 66 22 12 /

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email Find out more about our parenting skills programmes here.

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10 Ways to Respect Differences

Everyone is different, and it is important to be sensitive to that fact. Children look up to their parents and will imitate their behaviour, so the way you act towards others who are different can have a profound impact on them. By making sure you are respectful to everyone, you can ensure your children will do the same. In this week of our parenting tips series, we have 10 ways to respect the differences between yourself and others.

1. Be courteous and friendly to others.  You can help your child respect others by the way you greet people, talk with them, and talk about them afterwards. Children learn from our example.

2. Make a family book about similarities and differences:  You and your child could work together to make a book about the people in your family.

3. Value difference. Arrange a small get-together with one or two families. Each could make a snack that may be different or new to the others, possibly an ethnic food or one that is special in other ways for their family.

4. Meet new friends.  You may want to tell your child about a time when you met someone who seemed different at first but as you got to know the person, you came to appreciate him or her.

5. Use empathy: Can your child remember coming into a group and feeling ignored or left out? Talking about your child’s feelings can help your child develop empathy and begin to see things from another person’s point of view.

6. We believe that we are all special people.

7. Treat others kindly even if they are different.

8. We show we are listening by what we say.

9. We are concerned about each other’s feelings.

10. Use books, the internet and society to introduce your child to difference and in particular all types of families and how they are all unique and special – just like ours.

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Preschool; 10 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Self Esteem; 10 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on 0818 66 22 12 or


Image Credit: Pixabay

Family Communications Tightrope

10 Ways to Better Problem Solving

All families experience problems at some time. No matter how strong a family unit is or how positive our relationships, siblings will still argue, parents may be stressed over finances, bedtime routines may be difficult to establish.  The demands of daily life can be challenging and problems can easily arise. If a recurring problem is not addressed, over time it can become a major issue and affect the quality of life and relationships at home for every member of the family. It is essential to recognise and address problems to help prevent this happening. Our ’10 Ways to Better Problem Solving’ can be useful in solving challenging family problems.

  1. Name the issue, identify the problem. Work on the easier issues first of all. Working out the smaller stuff gives you the confidence to address the bigger issues.
  2. Try to figure out how strongly everyone feels on the issue at hand by asking, on a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly do you feel about your point? 1 is not very strong and 10 is very strong.
  3. Do not attempt to start talking about a solution until you can truly re-state each person’s point to their satisfaction and understand it, and have established what, if any, common ground there is.
  4. Communicate about the problem with each other using the four-step method for clear and direct communication:
    • Observations | Be factual. Don’t judge or evaluate. State the problem clearly.
    • Feelings | Talk about what this observation makes you feel. Ask other family members what their feelings are about it.
    • Needs | Talk about the needs that cause these feelings.
    • Requests | Be clear, ask for – not demand – what you want. Other family members should have the option to say no and come up with alternatives.
  5. Come up with some solutions – ask everyone in the family for them.
  6. Select a solution.
  7. Act on the solution. Divide out responsibility amongst the members of the family.
  8. Appoint someone to monitor the action. For less serious issues, children can be responsible monitors too.
  9. Evaluate the whole thing, and within a reasonable time, ask if the solution is working? If not, pick another one to try. Talk about what you all learnt from the situation.
  10. Remember that is not your job as the parent to ‘fix’ life. Empower your children to make decisions and be responsible.

Having read these tips, you may also find our 10 Ways to Run a Family Meeting helpful.

If you would like support, information or advice in relation to the topic above, contact our lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 66 22 12 / One Family offers a range of training options to help parents and guardians to build on their parenting skills which you can find out about here. These include our upcoming Summer School of Parenting Skills Workshops in July.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Develop Family Rituals and 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family.

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10 Ways to Run A Family Meeting

When there is an issue for any family member, holding a family meeting is a good way to resolve it as a family, and regular meetings can promote harmony between all family members.

Read on for our 10 Ways to Run A Family Meeting

  1. Don’t force anyone into doing it. Try saying  ‘  I would like to give this a try – would you?’
  2. Meetings should happen regularly on a certain day and time, even if there are no specific issues.
  3. All family members need to attend, even the youngest.
  4. Set ground rules for the meetings, including how to deal with someone who does not keep their agreements.
  5. Decisions need to be made by consensus.
  6. Make some time in the meeting for each person to say how they appreciate everyone or something someone did that they liked that week.
  7. Nice snacks are important – you can rotate who chooses and prepares the treats. Children will find it fun to be given the responsibility for this task.
  8. As a parent, try not to talk too much – family meetings are about sharing power.
  9. Agree a way forward, write it down and try it.
  10. Review the plan, if it works, great! If not make a new plan.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Positively Maintaining Contact, 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training and 10 Ways to Increase Social Engagement.

One Family offers a suite of training opportunities for parents and for professionals on an on-going basis. To find out more, click here or call 01 662 9212.


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10 Ways to Sensitive Integration of a Stepparent

Introducing a new partner who may be potential stepparent to your children requires great care and patience with the focus on helping children to adapt. As part of our weekly ’10 Ways to …’ series, here are our tips on managing this situation so that, in time, all members of the family can enjoy positive and supportive relationships.

10 Ways to Sensitive Integration of a Stepparent

  1. Be friends: Introduce your child to your new partner gently and slowly. Plan a fun activity for the family and bring your new partner along. Your partner may not love the child on first meeting, this is natural. Allow the relationship to develop and for both parties to become comfortable with each other.
  2. Talk with your child: Involve your child in your life. Tell them you have made a new special friend and that you would like them to get to know your child.
  3. Moving in: It is usually once a new partner moves in that they become a stepparent (not always through marriage as legally recognised). Involve children in this process. Talk in advance about what this will look like and how it may change current family life – be clear about the positives and the negatives.
  4. Talk about behaviour: When there are young children involved, the stepparent must be allowed to manage behaviour if they are being asked to care for the children. It is important to discuss your views on managing behaviour in advance and agree how to handle issues. Work with each other. Discuss parenting styles and how you were parented as a child. What do you want for your child and how can the stepparent support you to parent?
  5. 3 parents: Your child has two parents usually and may not feel they have room for a third. Be gentle in your approach. Don’t get into a situation whereby the child feels the biological parent is being replaced. Always respect the child’s feelings.
  6. Respect: Always respect the biological parent of the child and respect the role the child’s biological parent plays in their life. Do not encourage or permit the child to call a stepparent Dad or Mum. You are just creating confusion and disrespecting the other parent. Make sure to talk with the other biological parent about this new important person in your child’s life.
  7. Couple time: Remember you are a couple and not just parents. Take time out as a couple and also take time to talk about the challenges of parenting with another adult who is not the parent. It is hard for both of you. The stepparent may have to learn how to share you with your child and that you have to juggle meeting their needs and those of your child.
  8. Acknowledge: Both parties need to acknowledge that this may be hard for the child. They may find it hard to adapt to sharing their parent. Maybe they have been hurt in the past. Involve them. Talk about things in the home and plan changes together. Explore issues as they arise and find solutions together.
  9. Have fun: Do fun things together! Also allow both the parent and stepparent have one-to-one time with the child. This will help build the relationship for both parents and child.
  10. Trust: Trust each other. If you cannot trust your partner with your child then you need to think about what is happening. Take everything your child says seriously. They are not out to hurt you or break up a relationship. Hear them.

If you would like to talk about the issues above or have any other concerns or questions, our askonefamily lo-call helpline is available on 1890 662 212 and by emailing

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Positively Maintaining Contact and 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training.

The One Family parenting skills courses Positive Parenting and Family Communications are enrolling now for Summer. Click here for information.

School Holidays

10 Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

School's outFor some parents the school holiday is a respite time with a more relaxed routine. However, it can be a nightmare for others for many reasons such as not being able to take time off work, lack of childcare options and tight budgets, and so requires a lot of planning and management. As parents we learn quickly that when raising children it is important to develop as many resources as we possibly can. As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of weekly parenting tips, and in celebration of mid-term break, here are our tips on how to make school breaks enjoyable for all members of the family so you won’t hear the infamous “I’m bored” – hopefully!

10 Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

  1. Time off: If you work outside of the home, plan your leave in advance for school holidays. Get the list of days off from the school at the start of each term and use this to plan your time off. If this is not possible, try to finish early over a few days during the mid-term.
  2. Plans: Make plans with children prior to school breaks. Making plans in advance for the days off will ensure that children are clear about what will happen. They will cooperate more if they are involved in making the plans.
  3. Family: Engage the support of family as much as possible at school breaks. If you share parenting with your child’s other parent, agree a system for the school holidays in advance. Grandparents and other family members can love having the chance to have some extra quality time with the children, maybe even a sleepover. Make sure to involve children in any plans and give them the information they need in advance.
  4. Friends: Make plans with other parents for play dates. Maybe you can set up a shared rota?
  5. Fun: Even if you have to work, try to have fun with children during the break. Fun doesn’t have to mean expense. Activities such as cooking, arts and crafts or having a picnic at home are really enjoyable things to do in the comfort of your own home. Plan fun activities out such as going to the park, feeding the ducks, a walk on the beach or going swimming.
  6. Library: Libraries often hold events for children on school breaks and are also a great source of information about what is taking place locally, such as nature walks or music workshops.
  7. Clear Out: Children can really enjoy helping at home. Take the school break as an opportunity to do a spring clean. Get the children involved in planning what needs to be done, make a colourful chart together. Maybe they can clear out their wardrobes and bring some clothes, toys or books to the charity shops. You may find hidden treasures as you go along, to have a dress up day when you finish!
  8. Socialise: Take school breaks as an opportunity to meet other families. There are lots of websites supporting families to meet up and do activities together. If you are feeling isolated, check out the One Family Social Group for starters. It provides a supportive environment for parents to enjoy a day out with other parents in similar circumstances, and is great fun for the children. Email us or call us if you’d like more information.
  9. Routine: It’s important to try to keep the bed time and meal time routines in place while children are on short school breaks. This will ensure that they will not get over tired, and as they are still in their routine when school begins again, the transition will be easier for everyone.
  10. Enjoy: Most of all, enjoy the break from homework as this allows time for other things in the evenings – don’t dread the school breaks.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training, 10 Ways to Positively Maintaining Contact and 10 Ways to Sensitive Introduction of a Step Parent.

Remember, if you need a friendly ‘listening ear’, our askonefamily lo-call helpline is available on 1890 662 212.