This is Why Your Kids Argue So Much on Holidays

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In our home we call it ‘Holiday Adjustment Syndrome’ (HAS) and we notice it kicks in at the start of every single school holidays. What is it and how can you survive it?

School is very routine and so term time tends to be quite busy and predictable. Kids don’t have to think too much about what to do next and sub-consciously they know the drill. Each day follows a similar pattern and even weekends tend to have some regular timed activities. Then comes school holidays and that all goes out the window.

At the very time that we want the family to be having some downtime, fun or recreation we find that our kids struggle to adjust to the freedom. We sometimes have paid considerable amounts of money to be somewhere awesome doing amazing things and yet the kids lack enthusiasm, are irritable and seem to be constantly arguing!! It makes it all seem so futile and then I remember … Holiday Adjustment Syndrome.

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After a few days the crew adjust to the new pace and freedom and we start to actually enjoy the break just in time for school to start again haha … So what can you do to avoid it?

Not a lot can be done before school finishes because assessment tends to be loaded into the end of term and its almost always very busy and stressful for everyone. You can however do a few things to help your family adjust to the holidays from the first few days. Obviously it depends on whether you are all on a break or just the students but here are some ideas:

  1. Celebrate the end of term – kick off the holidays with a big celebration or some way of essentially marking that we are moving to a new phase of the year. We often do something simple like inviting a few friends around, heading out for dinner or even just a picnic/BBQ or ice-cream.
  2. Talk about it – discuss the fact that we aren’t used to all being together all day and making our own fun. We even laugh about it with the kids and tell them that there is a bit of HAS that we have to endure. Obviously this could become a self-fulfilling prophesy if you make too big a thing of it. You might be lucky and avoid it 🙂
  3. Plan a few adjustment days – if you are heading away consider not going immediately. Give yourself a few free days for the kids to unwind, catch up on some screen-time, sleep in and do some of the things that are harder to fit in during term.
  4. Separate the siblings – Chances are that planning a few separate activities or play dates could help early on rather than them having only each other to interact with.
  5. Set the rules – almost all conflicts can be avoided or reduced by clear expectations. Have a discussion about the ground-rules for the holidays. Things like what the morning routine will look like for wake up and activities.? How much screen-time will we have each day? When and what do they eat (as in who makes meals, what snacks are OK to get)? What I don’t want is to be faced with 15 questions each hour about every small aspect of their life!
  6. Structure the days – most people actually relax more when they know the plan. Even adults in our family get more irritated when nobody knows what is happening next. Its a good idea especially in the early part of the holiday to have more planned time … even if you plan to do nothing for hours at a time 🙂 … and then everyone knows that after that we are going to the movies etc. We often do our holiday brainstorm idea here which you can read more about here. 

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At the end of the holiday too some intentional re-focusing to school routine and managing those expectations could help too.

It might not be a thing i your family but we definitely notice that having more freedom and time to fill along with much more time with siblings can create tension. Maybe some of the above ideas could help you ease into the holidays and survive Holiday Adjustment Syndrome.

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