School holidays, a time of fun and relaxation for every child is a potentially challenging period for parents. The challenge is how to keep children occupied and safe, and how parents can balance spending quality time with their kids while juggling work and other commitments?
For some who are fortunate enough to have understanding bosses and sympathetic workplaces, parents are able to bring their children to work during the school holidays or work out flexible hours.
Creative Director, Joos Khor, is one such lucky employee, and he has found the perfect formula to address this conundrum; planning his work schedule around his son’s school year.
“Working in an international advertising agency can be very stressful,” Joos said. “But the good thing is, I am allowed the flexibility to work from home and adapt my official working ours outside the conventional 9-5, as needed. So, at the start of the year, I will look at my son’s calendar and plan my work around his school holidays.”
It helps that Joos is an early riser, so he can be at work by 7 am and leave the office by 3 pm to spend the rest of the evening with his son. On days when he is working from home, he ensures that his son is right next to him, doing something he loves, learning a new craft, or developing a new skill.
“My son is artsy and loves building and painting car models,” Khor said. “Since this takes hours of dedicated focus and can be messy, the school holidays are the only time that my wife and I will allow him to do it.”
Business trips turned into family road trip
While this has worked for the father of one, not everyone has such flexible work arrangements. For treasury manager, Komathi Subramaniam and her husband, Vick, their traditional hours require them to be more creative in how they plan activities for the kids.
“My job requires me to be away from home and the kids a lot,” Komathi said.
“Therefore, whenever the kids have time off from school, I turn my work trips into a family adventure off the beaten track.
“We have driven to Kluang, Malacca, Ipoh, and Hatyai. My husband and I will take turns to drive and my kids are often fascinated by the sights and scenic views on these trips. They have even made a travel log of all the places we have been to.”
Organised kids’ activities spring up in KL
Other options for parents can be found among the myriad of excellent school holiday programmes that have cropped up all over the Klang Valley in the past few years.
Yoga instructor Yuzmin Faizal believes that the school holiday is the best time for parents and kids to slow down from the mad flurry of their daily routines. Her dedicated kids’ yoga programme at Nafas Yoga KL studio enables parents to do precisely that.
“For the upcoming holidays, we will offer special ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Pokemon’ themed classes,” Yuzmin said. “Beyond the yoga movements itself, we also teach kids breathing techniques and mindfulness practices through creative classroom-style activities. The kids enjoy these so much that parents have a hard time getting them to leave when the class is over.”
As a parent herself, Yuzmin too has had to think of ways to keep her own daughter occupied during the holidays.
“I am lucky that my 6 year old has inherited my love for yoga, so I am able to take her to the studio with me.
“I also found other things to do with her such as activity sheets and crafts ideas that I get from online sources such as The Artful Parent,” said Yuzmin, who also advises parents to plan early and book classes and school holiday programmes at least four to six weeks in advance as places can run out fairly quickly.