08 October, 2015

The childless woman's guide to surviving school holidays

 Late September/early October sees school holidays come around again here in New Zealand. In my No Kidding life, this can creep up on me. Suddenly, I'm assailed by people and noise. Though I can tolerate people and children and noise, if I don't have to, I prefer to avoid them. After all, I am accustomed to a much more peaceful environment! Besides, even though the sight of children does not upset me these days, being surrounded by boisterous families can make me feel isolated, and I prefer to flee home or to a favourite, safe environment. I am fully aware that frazzled parents can't do this, and face many more challenges to surviving school holidays. Still, this isn't a blog that addresses their issues - it addresses mine. So here are my tips to surviving school holidays relatively stress free.

  1. Don’t travel. The planes, trains, ferries, roads, and airports will be clogged with families on holiday, accommodation will be harder to find, and prices will be higher.

  2. Stay in Wellington and drive to work. There’s no traffic  – the streets are clear in the morning, travel times are dramatically reduced – through a combination of parents not driving their children to school in the mornings, and the absence of parents as they take a week or more off work to get out of town with their kids.

  3. Go to the gym. Unless it has playgrounds or childcare facilities, it will be empty. Even the spinning class was cancelled this week due to lack of interest.

  4. Avoid the Malls and cinemas and museums (especially Te Papa), like the plague.

  5. If you must go to the movies, then go to Lighthouse cinemas, or the Penthouse, or another of the boutique, art house style theatres. Do not go to see a blockbuster in the middle of the day -  you will regret it! I'm sure you can wait two weeks to see it.

  6. Choose your coffee venues carefully. The CBD is usually a safe bet, but beware that in the holidays, there will be families and children in town. Think about the nature of the café and its surrounding environment. Miramar’s new Park Kitchen is sleek and modern, and was quiet late last week. The entire Khandallah Village was empty this morning – the usual yoga mums are all off ski-ing or in the Pacific, the nannies have the week off, and the café was peaceful. However, I doubt it was the same just down the road at the more child-friendly Ngaio café. Beach Babylon in Oriental Bay never has many children, and didn’t this week either, but I didn’t even attempt to go to the Tugboat Café, just a few hundred metres up the road, situated as it is next to a small sheltered beach and playground.

  7. Go get a massage or facial or both. Serenity guaranteed.

  8. Alcohol. Go out for a drink instead of a coffee or lunch, revelling in your freedom, and making the most of these lighter evenings.

  9. But if you have a visit from an out-of-town child, disregard all the advice above, and head to the zoos, malls, cinemas, Te Papa, and cafés with playgrounds, bake cupcakes and build forts inside or out, play “spot the tui,” and have your first ice-cream of the season. And enjoy!

  10. Don’t feel guilty that you can enjoy your peace and serenity, whether it’s the less stressful commute to town, or the quiet café, or the calm, quiet house after guests have gone. 

Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!


  1. ohhh, I loved to go to Te Papa after work, first that lovely walk along the bay and I think it was open on Thursdays later? I remember nothing but peace and quiet and discarded hobbit feet.

  2. All good advice. Though we're the evil family that thwarts all plans -- we only travel when it is NOT a school holiday.

    So is this your equivalent to our spring break?

    1. I guess so. It's spring. And a break. !!!

  3. Sounds like spring break to me. ;) -- the afternoon commuter trains home would be crammed with excited, noisy kids & their tired parents, returning from their outing for the day. It would drive all the regular commuters nuts. :p Wishing you a peaceful holiday season! ;)

  4. We practice #8 now, it works really well for us : )
    Great list!
    The Barren is currently in what he calls Hell, a conference in a hotel across from Disneyland
    I think #8 will be repeated a lot this weekend

  5. Oh, over here next week is autumn break from school. Fortunately for me this is a small village, so I don't really need to do anything differently as we rarely go out for dinner/lunch or even a cuppa at a cafe and we never go to the local cinema as there's only one studio (we watch movies at home on DVD/Blu-ray).

  6. I love this advice. Practical, and it sounds like you find ways to create and sustain serenity during what could be difficult season of the year. Wishing you a wonderful week, with lots of moments of peace.