Welcome to the December/January issue of CHILD magazine; but first, your new editor-in-chief, Kim Richards, explains why this was possibly the worst time of the year to start editing Australia’s biggest parenting title.
Oh don’t get me wrong, this job is an absolute privilege and, what’s more, it’s a job I know I’m highly qualified for; I’ve spent more than 20 years working in the Australian media landscape, and more than half of that time as a parent.
It’s just that it’s been a long slog this year; three kids aged five, eight and 10, two young stepchildren, and full-time employment on the side. We’ve moved house twice, visited the emergency department more than the average, and lost 48 brand new lunchboxes. I joked to a friend over coffee one Saturday, “I’m not sure I’m in the right frame of mind to be celebrating parenting in December, I feel like I should be celebrating survival.”
But, I mused; I guess if we’re all honest, parenting sometimes does feel like trench warfare. And, if this is Australia’s REAL guide for parents, it’s okay for me to admit this. Right? Good. We’re going to get along just fine.
A friend recently sent me a meme about school holidays that said, “Summer: The season when parents realise how incredibly underpaid teachers are.” As both a mother and teacher, I can attest to the truth in this.
There’s certainly a pattern to the long summer break in my household, beginning in early December with a decline in homework, shabby school shoes and creeping bedtimes.
In week one, the anticipation of Santa Claus and the mountain of unopened presents mean everyone is happy and unusually patient with each other.
Week two is a never-ending merry-go-round of entertainment; new toys, unfamiliar visitors (bearing more gifts!), and mum turning a blind eye to the candy canes disappearing from the tree at light-speed.
Week three is usually a holiday somewhere, routine- and rule-free, with interesting new friends and just enough sun-induced exhaustion to make the evenings peaceful for me.
But, at the halfway mark, things start to change. The boredom factor kicks in and the kids grow weary of each other. By week six, there is a desperate fatigue on the faces of many parents, who are, like me, counting down to the start of school, by the hour.
I’m certainly heading into these holidays armed with Dr Larry Cohen’s book about the power of play. Our feature, The Parents’ Playbook, has plenty of tips and advice about using playtime to benefit both you and the kids.
And, if you run out of inspiration for easy, screen-free holiday entertainment, we’ve put together a list of great ideas for getting out into nature with the kids; consider it Pokémon with purpose! And, if you’re looking for me in week five, I’ll be taking the advice in our Trail Mix story and doing a lot of ‘shinrin-yoku’!