The end of Term 2 is nigh, and for many parents, this can signal a wave of angst - even more so if you've no getaway planned, especially during winter when many parts of the country endure inclement weather.
It doesn't matter whether you're juggling work with family life or have cleared your calendar; the incessant niggling of bored kids during school holidays can become really irritating, really quickly. Having navigated work (from home and an office) and school holidays for more than 10 years, with preschoolers, primary school-aged kids and now teenagers, I've learned a thing or two about how to not only survive but thrive during this fortnight.
Here are four ideas that'll help see you through the rainiest of days and the darkest of moods. Most could be applied to children of any age; it just depends on your specific circumstances.
Write a list. At the very start of the school holidays, ask your child (or children) to make a list of activities they'd like to do. It should be made up of free things that can be enjoyed around the house or nearby, and perhaps a few ideas that require money and a bit more organisation.
The more things on the list, the better - challenge them to reach at least 15 and suggest stuff like a Lego building competition, baking session, or watching a 1990s movie marathon from their newly constructed couch fort.
Check the weather forecast for the week and plan outdoor activities on clear or milder days. On days when you're working from home or have no plans if they come complaining that there's nothing to do, ask them to revisit their tailor-made list and choose something they've written on there.
Share the kids. This one takes some forward planning but is well worth the effort. If you have to work during school holidays and know a handful of friends in the same predicament, why not take turns looking after the kids en masse?
For example, if there's five of you, all nominate a weekday where you can take the day off (consider annual leave or leave without pay if required - it's worth it) and have everyone's kids at your place. Sure, it results in a day of potential madness but also leaves you with four childfree days when you can work in peace.
Go exploring. An alphabet treasure hunt is an excellent activity if you embark on the kid sharing idea. Armed with a bag, pen and paper, get the kids (perhaps in teams) to find an item representing each letter of the alphabet, collecting them in the bag and noting them down as they go. Give a point for each item, with extra points for alliterations - a round red rock, for example. Award a prize for the team with the most points - something sugary from the local shop will have them enthusiastically hunting in no time.
Still have time to kill? Depending on the age of your kids, you could visit a local museum, art gallery or adventure playground.
Earn pocket money. If you've some basic odd jobs that need doing around the house, why not employ your kids to do them? Pay them immediately and let them buy something (unless they're an avid saver) that day. While this obviously isn't feasible every day of the holidays, it does fill in some time when you're at a loose end or need to keep them occupied while you work.