The 2022 school year has been a year worth reflecting upon as schools returned to much more familiar routines. Face-to-face learning, liturgies, excursions and camps, swimming and athletics carnivals and competitive sport, school performances, and other community events are all worth celebrating. The students have worked extremely hard and deserve a well-earned break.

Whilst school holidays are generally a happy time for families to enjoy together, it’s worth being aware that they can place additional pressure on families and potentially on some children and young people’s mental health. There are some simple steps to take to reduce this pressure.

  • Boost healthy activities
  • Set reasonable expectations about technology use. If there is too much screen time, the holidays won’t be as recharging and health promoting as they could be. Have limits! Be aware of your children’s on-line activities.
  • Connect. Plan outings to connect with friends, relatives, extended families, or others. Look-out for local events to make some new and positive community connections.
  • Be sensitive. If children or young people are experiencing grief or loss, holidays, special events and especially Christmas can be a challenging time. It is important to include them in some creative planning to spend the day in positive ways. They may want to do something special to remember their loved one, or just go on as normal, as established routines can be reassuring
  • Watch yourself. No surprises, but parental stress can increase over holidays, which can impact on children. This is usually due to parents feeling overloaded or stretched between home and work. Sit down as a family and make a collective calendar. Schedule some movies or fun days out, along with some times when they are cared by others and some independent, quiet times if possible. Some self-care and eating well to provide the nourishment your body requires are really important
  • Use the school holidays as opportunities to let children have some extra responsibilities, e.g. help with shopping or cooking
  • Keep tabs on them. You don’t have to interfere but do set expectations so you know where they are at given times. Set some age dependent rules, i.e. leaving notes, locking up the house or calling if they are going out with a friend. Even if you are at work ask them to check in with you throughout the day. Young adolescents will naturally try to take some risks and push boundaries so don’t assume the little angels are at home just reading books!
  • Maintain healthy routines. Sensible bedtimes, night-time stories and good nutrition are important. Some holiday ‘treats’ are ok but letting standards drop too far can cause issues when it’s time to resume school and settle down
  • Check in. Ask your children every few days how they are feeling? Which activities have they enjoyed and if they need support. Communication and warmth are the key. It’s not about having fun every minute of the day, it’s about rest and replenishment so they are healthy and happy enough to enjoy not being at school
  • Pre-empt issues. And closer to the new school year if they are worried about new classes, new teachers, friends, talk about it

Life is busy but do your best to take time out to enjoy the holidays. Focus on the good parts and stay positive with your family.

Have a blessed Christmas and best wishes for the New Year in 2023

Mr Thomas Psomas 
Head of Primary