Slowing down during Half Term Break


©expatsincebirth; board games

Last year I did write a post about 10 indoor activities to do with children during this time of the year and last week I published a post on AngloINFO about Things to do in The Hague area during Autumn Holiday. This year we did decide to spend the Autumn Holiday at home. I must confess that I usually don’t plan a lot in advance because I prefer deciding day by day what to do, and I like to have some more quiet days where the children have to figure out what to do with the things we have at home. During the last decluttering, I did find several games my children didn’t touch or play with in months. I gave away some of them, but others were waiting to be played with or to be used. My children did several board games and now I know precisely which ones are “out” and can be given away soon.




©expatsincebirth; Lego

We did visit Lego World in Utrecht and the Museon. After each visit they were inspired and did build a Lego-Museum in our attic and write long texts about what they saw and discovered. Children often like to reconstruct experiences they had (not only during holidays). This can be outings like we had so far or longer travels. My children often do it by building, drawing or writing something about their experience.



I like to watch them writing. And I love to listen to their stories. They often come up with great ideas about what to do next or how to do it different the next time. I really learn a lot from my children. The way they talk about what they see and experience allows me to see the world through their eyes. And in their stories I can read much more than only “the story”. I can understand what kind of things make them upset, what are the things they like (and dislike) and make them happy, where their interests are and what they really don’t care about. – I learn to read in between the lines.


©expatsincebirth; Paco and the deers

Of course we managed to do walks in the surroundings every day – which is a must because this fall is really mild and sunny. We have a lovely Kinderboerderij in our neighbourhood and our dog has some deer-friends he never forgets to greet when we walk past the fence. If they are not close to the fence, he “calls” them and waits until they come closer.

When we don’t travel during holidays, I also want my children to get bored. I want them to learn how to deal with this feeling because I consider it important for them to be able to figure out by themselves what they can do. Usually they come up with very good ideas. During this break, they haven’t been bored (yet) and I’m very glad to see that they take decisions by themselves concerning their activities and how to spend their time. I love listening to their discussions about the pro and cons. My role becomes more and more the one of a spectator – and an admirer.

I did write about summer chores for children earlier and my children use to have them also during shorter breaks. The first days they need a reminder but then they get into the routine of helping in the household. – These breaks are supposed to be breaks also for us parents. In our case, we’re already happy that we don’t have to prepare lunchboxes every morning or that I don’t have to drive the kids to school and after school activities, but I think parents also deserve a “break” from other daily chores. Involving children in the life and work at home is also part of our task as parents. We want them to become independent one day and capable to do all those things we often tend to do for them. – I also do it when they go to school, but only because I consider that during school time it’s more important for them to focus on the school. But when they’re at home, we all have to take our responsibilities like a team.


©expatsincebirth; Wii breakdance

Of course, the electronic devices are part of our lives too. Every day we discuss about how much time we are allowed on the device, doing what, how long? What do we have to do in order to gain some “online time”?  Games, exercices (maths, science and spelling etc.) and Wii sports and dance and stop motion are allowed about 30 mins, but every supplementary time must be earned. How? By making things that need to be done: all kinds of household chores like folding laundry, tidying up and taking care of the dog (etc.) and some extra tasks that come to our minds.

We all do love reading and since my children now all read in different languages, it’s a real pleasure for me – as a declared bibliophile – to watch my children devour books after books in different languages. – And as my time on electronic device has expired (for now), I’ll go back reading my books.

How did you spend your Half Term Break – if you had one – or how do you spend school holidays when you don’t travel?

Categories: Being expat, Children and the internet, Family, Life with children, Netherlands, Parenting

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