Usually an au pair is required to work during school holidays, very often the hours are extended as parents work and cannot be home with the children. Holidays are a great time for children to relax, blow off some steam and have a break from the busy term time. An au pair’s duties during school holidays are to facilitate activities, play dates, outings and to allow the children some free time to just be children!
The age of the child/children you au pair for will determine the type of activities that you can do during holidays. Often the au pair will be required to spend most of the day with the children, and some school holidays are quite lengthy! So it is important that you stretch out the outings/activities so that you have something to do each day. It is very important that you have a sit down with the mum or dad at the beginning of the holidays and discuss activities/outings/play dates and what their expectations are of you for the duration of the school holiday. All families are different, some parents prefer the au pair to keep the kiddies at home as much as possible and allow them to explore/play in the garden/build a fort and enjoy some free time at home. Other parents would like their kiddies to be taken on outings to places such as the park, Kid’s Centres, the library and that sort of thing. It is vital that you and the child’s parents are on the same page when it comes to holiday care.
Children spend the better part of term time in classrooms learning, focusing their energy on school work, school projects, homework, exams and or tests with very little time set aside for fun and relaxation. Term time can be stressful for children, especially as there is substantial pressure placed on children from a young age to perform well at school. Some children can handle this pressure better than others and there are many children who suffer from anxiety from this pressure. Holidays should be a time to alleviate this pressure and anxiety and allow children to be just that… children!
We will give you some practical ideas that you can implement,
with the parents consent during school holidays:
- Play dates are always a hit! Arrange a few play dates with the child’s friends during the duration of the holidays. Be it a home play date, a meet at the park or local public pool or even to go see a movie together. It is always helpful if the child’s friends are also cared for by an au pair as this provides opportunity for the au pairs to meet and swap ideas etc.
- Outdoor activities and outings are great as they provide a safe environment for the children to be free and let loose from all the term time pressures. A visit to the beach, public pool, park, a walk down the road or swim date at a friend’s house with a pool. These activities can provide hours of fun! Be reminded to always apply sunblock, a sun hat as well as shade for the children when you engage in outdoor activities.
- Arts and crafts are loved by most children of all ages. Painting, drawing, colouring in, cutting and sticking, stickers etc are all great fun. Children love it when you actually get involved too and join in with the arty activity. It is a wonderful thing to give children the space and freedom to be creative.
- Outings can be a fun activity too! It is a great idea to plan a few “holiday outings” depending on how long the holidays are, an outing or two per week is excellent. A visit to the library to read/choose books, a milkshake at Wimpy, a movie on a cooler day, a picnic at a park, a kiddies entertainment area where they can go and play and interact with other children too. Always liaise with the child’s parents in advance about any planned outings.
- Allow the child some free time to be imaginative and engage in games such as building a fort in the garden, building a pirate ship or playing ‘shop-shop’ for example. It is great for a child to exercise their imagination, and depending on their age, these games can provide hours of fun.
- Holidays are a time to have a few treats so plan some interesting/fun meals that you can give to the kids. Try keep it mostly healthy, but be creative! Food is always fun and it is a great way to encourage fussy eaters to be a bit more daring in what they eat!
- Cooking and baking is a fun holiday activity. If the children are older then a bit of simple cooking with them is a great idea. If they are still young then baking a cake/cupcakes and allowing them to ice it or decorate it is a great activity. Be sure to wash up afterwards!
There are many other activities that you can do with children during school holidays, remember to be creative and try engage with them on their particular level/age group. There is no reason why holiday time shouldn’t be fun for the whole family, the au pair included! Keep up the great work, girls!