School holidays start next week, but for many Auckland parents it will be more of the same: being at home with the kids.
In their seventh week of confinement, they have the unenviable task of entertaining their children without games or grandparents, unless the government decides on Monday that there will be a quick move to level 2.
University of Auckland clinical psychologist Dr Melanie Woodfield said many will face the upcoming vacation with some apprehension.
“There will be a lot of tiredness, fatigue, exhaustion. Normally, the beginning of the school holidays marks a time of transition and perhaps a moment of rest or respite, not for all families, but this will be really different from how things normally are so there could be some kind of concern about how the holidays are going to go. “
He said it would help keep pace with each day and set realistic expectations.
“The thoughts and feelings that we have as adults, as parents, can really make or break the day,” Woodfield said.
“Parents will be very familiar with that. You start the day thinking ‘this is going to be awesome, I’m going to provide all kinds of stimulating activities while simultaneously being in five Zoom meetings for work’ and you come to the end of the day and many times you have said and done things that in the ideal world you would not have wanted to do.
“That situation is avoidable if we have really realistic and kind expectations of ourselves and what we can achieve during the day.”
The parents RNZ spoke to during a socially estranged walk in Potter’s Park hope to be released from confinement during the school holidays.
“Definitely level 2 because our son really misses his friends and we really miss our friends too,” said Christine Si.
“You see a lot of people here today, and we all have to keep our distance and wear a mask, so it’s still pretty hard not being able to have a good talk.”
Kirsten Cathels said that going below level 3 would allow them to see people outside the family bubble.
“We hope to get to level 2. I think the plan will be just play dates, and that would make a big difference because then we will have other people to hang out with.”
Dr. Woodfield said it’s normal for parents to view Alert Level 2 and the reopening of the school as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
But given the uncertainty, parents should focus on the little pleasures to be had and be kind to themselves, he said.
“Trying to inject regular little moments of pleasure instead of waiting for a big arrival of happiness when the kids go back to school because there are so many unknowns surrounding that.”
Under alert level 2, school vacation programs can be run.
Kelly Club operates 30 school holiday programs in Auckland and Managing Director Paul Jamieson said they are accepting bookings for Auckland programs despite the uncertainty of when the city will move to Tier 2.
“At the moment, there will be parents who need a break and there will be children who need a break, so I think it’s incredibly important that this vacation happens to people’s sanity,” he said.
“If we go out of level 3 next Wednesday, we certainly hope that there will be a flood of reserves and parents who can say ‘great, we can get on with things.’