School holidays in most parts of India are a couple of months in April – May, a week in October for Diwali and two weeks in December for Christmas.
Being an only child with both parents working, I had to either stay home with the maid or go to Mumbai to spend time with my cousins – which I loved but it was usually only for a week. I killed the rest of my time reading Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, Malory Towers and Enid Blyton books.
In Australia, the academic term begins in February. This is followed by end of term holidays (2 weeks) in April, July, and Sept. Depending on which state you live in, these dates may vary slightly. The summer holidays (6 – 7 weeks) are in December and January.
School holidays usually cause stress for working parents, but it’s useful to know that taking leave during these times is accepted. Some workplaces offer work from home arrangements during these two weeks.
So, what do you do with the kids during these holidays? Well, the good news is that there are options for everyone.
The free stuff – The libraries often have story telling and rhyme time, baby and toddler groups, play children’s movies etc. There’s no shortage of these free events but they are likely to cater to toddlers and smaller children. The councils host youth or summer holiday festivals in local parks, where there is a fair mix of free stuff and paid activities like face painting, fairy floss and pony rides. Families often take a picnic basket and spend the day on the grass (weather permitting).
Play dates and sleep overs – Running out to play every evening was a thing most of us have grown up doing in India. Things are different here. Play dates are scheduled in advance and is often at someone’s house.
For younger kids, one parent comes along, waits and makes conversation with the parent hosting the play date while downing coffee and cake. The favour is then expected to be returned at some point.
The older kids prefer sleep overs – give them food, two PlayStation controllers and your job is done!
Vacation-care programs –This option is a blessing for working parents. Most schools offer a full-day’s worth of vacation care. These days are either incursions that revolve around a theme for the day or excursions to adventure parks, the zoo etc. The program offers an evening snack as part of the fee, which is pasta, pizza, ham burgers, and fruit. Vacation care is pricey but with Child Care Subsidy offered by the government, this one is a great option and one that we use all the time. These programs are however offered for primary school only i.e. Prep to Year 6.
The stuff that comes at a price – This time we chose a mix of Vacation care as well as some touristy stuff. Here’s what we did.
Hawker 88 Night Market
We’ve always wanted to go to a night market at the Queen Victoria Market, but it’s always on a school night and that has put us off. So this time, we took the opportunity to cross this off the list.
We went an hour after it started. It was buzzing! The crowds were massive, but well behaved. There’s no place for a pram or a wheelchair though, so think before you go. The lines at the food stalls are rather long and the food is average. There’s some entertainment in the centre of it all, but what caught my eye were the pop-up shops around the market. If you’ve seen the movie Coco, you’d love this one shop which sold only Coco merchandise.
I’ve never been a ‘museum person’ or may be the museums I’ve been to haven’t made an impression. This time Kaylin wanted to do a mother-daughter day and picked the museum. It’s a great school-holiday activity as entry for children is free and the adults pay a nominal charge.
Put some comfortable shoes on and get started! There are skeletons of whales and dinosaurs! A gallery of insects – I thought Kay wouldn’t step inside but I guess she’s okay with them if they are dead or enclosed. I refused to go into the Amphibians and reptiles section because of my fear of a certain amphibian… gulp.
We almost walked past the ‘Mind and Body’ gallery but I’m glad we didn’t. This one had a fascinating ‘sleep and dream’ realm and galleries that make you re-think everything you know.
The First Peoples gallery was extensive and interactive. You need time to read, listen and watch all their stories to really know the first Australians.
Kaylin showed a great amount of interest in everything – as she read, felt, touched, watched, and expressed excitement at learning new things. A must for kids and adults!
Hard Rock Climbing
Now, for the father-son day out, Andy and Ethan decided to go on this really cool rock climbing experience. There are plenty of indoor rock climbing outfits around, but the one at Franklin street in the city was both convenient to get to and looked quite impressive.
The walls were up to 52-ft high and looked difficult. Kay and I reached there towards the end of their climbing but they made it a point to do a couple for us. The old man still has it in him, while Ethan was keen to out do him 🙂 Brisk and agile as monkeys!
It was pretty decently priced too at $49 for two people, inclusive of the harnesses and climbing shoes. With no time limit attached to their ticket, you decide when your body says ‘enough’.
Art Vo is an immersive art gallery at the Docklands. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. At $65 for a family of four, it was worth the fun we had taking these images.
Take your pick.
There’s loads to do for every family and budget. We make an effort to create memories with our children during the holidays. Whether it’s thinking about what activity everyone will like or saving towards something that is expensive.
It’s an opportunity to get the kids off their screens and make them appreciate everything else around them. As we do this as a family, we learn more about the country and city, we now call Home.