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Holidays! Why does the word simultaneously strike both joy and fear into the hearts of so many? I’ll tell you why. It’s because for most, especially us working parents, they mean trying to keep kids safe, entertained, educated and busy for weeks on end and still balance the daily demands of life. 

I know I am the first person to get an eye twitch when someone asks me “You must love all the holidays you get?!” My favourite response to this question is to avoid sarcasm but very politely reply;

“Yes, I did, Sharon, when I was 21 and carefree, able to book holidays like there was no tomorrow, spend all my money on myself and not have a care in the world!”

However, now for me with a nearly 7 and 9-year-old, holidays normally begin with me having painstakingly saved for a trip to local tourist spots such as Maggie Island or Airlie Beach (after paying school fees and other extra-curricular costs). If I am stretched for funds, I often look to local FB pages or the good old PakMag for holiday activities or opportunities to keep the kids busy.  I have thankfully found a balance now, praise the Lord, between saving for an affordable holiday or planning a fun “Stay-cation” where the girls and I plan day trips (to save accommodation at night) When you’re a teacher and a mum, there is no break from the pressures of life so sometimes you must make your own!

So, I thought I’d share some of my tricks with you. Remember kids are simple creatures with simple needs, as explained by Maslow. They do not require their parents to be circus performers 24/7, and we should not be encouraging them to feel entitled to be “catered” for at all times. They need to be able to form their own activities and devise their own play and become ‘self-actualised’ as Maslow himself stated.

It’s wonderful to be able to provide overseas holidays and all the fancy frills, however, they are not what’s important when it comes to creating special memories for kids. I have brainstormed and compiled a short list of ideas to help with any parents who are looking to fill their holidays with simple, fun and educational opportunities for their busy little people.

Breathtaking Magnetic Island. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

Local places to take kids for short vacations

  1. Magnetic Island – Amaroo is a great place and so kid-friendly. Brian and and his team put up with us for a week and we had a ball.
  2. Airlie Beach – Conway Beach Tourist Park is wonderful. I especially love the 1950s retro diner where we can step back in time. The proximity to the Whitsundays is amazing too!
  3. Mena Creek – Paronella Park is a majestic spot to visit and the local history is fascinating!

Wallaman Falls are a must-see. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

Ms Perry’s top Day trip holiday destinations for people on a budget


  1. Frosty Mango & Crystal Creek/Mutarnee make great picnic trips
  2. Jourama Falls/Wallaman Falls – also great sightseeing and close to home.
  3. Cardwell Spa pools & the surrounding areas.

Discover marine life without getting your feet wet. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

In Town

  1. Reef HQ and Museum of Tropical QLD –Annual passes and always host school holiday fun activities
  2. There are also opportunities available for day trips, via Sealink to destinations such as the various reefs and islands for the whole family to enjoy

Find peace at the scenic Alligator Creek. Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.


  1. Alligator Creek – Bowling Green Bay National Park
  2. Billabong Sanctuary
  3. Cungulla Beach
  4. Palm Creek – the Folk Festival is amazing.

If you’re just too ‘tight’ to go anywhere, there are so many things to do at home. Both of my little monkeys have very active minds and therefore, need to be kept busy to keep their behaviour on track. I often set my two “tasks” to do each day. We keep our holiday days structured, like we do during term-time” as routine is so important whether you’re on holidays or not. So, our day looks a bit like this….

Wake up (Breakfast)

Morning outing

Reef HQ, Museum etc… whatever’s on offer really

Home for lunch (or take a picnic lunch depending on location)


Home for settled activities

  • Reading
  • Story writing
  • Arts and crafts
  • Painting something from today’s outing.
  • Journal entries from today’s adventures (To keep their reading and writing up)
  • Letters to grandparents about their activities
  • Playing card games (My two made their own on blank palm cards with their own matching pairs from reef animals at Reef HQ)
  • Cooking (Procedural reading and writing task and telling the time)
  • Chores – learning responsibility and independence (Washing etc)
  • Walks and plays in the park (exercise and fresh air)
  • Play dates with friends (Conflict negotiation, social skills, problem solving, creative play)
  • Planning ahead for the next day (Setting goals and organising for future events)

So, wherever you’re at on the scale, it’s easy to say that school holidays always put a strain on the patience and the purse. It’s up to us parents to help each other out and help others get through the break in one piece. As a teacher of 20 years, and mum of 9, I like to try to combine new experiences with fun opportunities and reflect each day on things we remember, learned and things that were special from the day – even a walk on the beach collecting shells can create beautiful memories, boost conversation skills and help numeracy (It’s all in the incidental learning on offer!) Enjoy the holidays, have a blessed Easter and make happy, educational and emotional memories for your child/ren.

Remember: There is no better teacher for a child than a parent!

God Bless,

Belinda Perry

Local high school teacher, TCOS & NQOMT performer and mother of two fierce and feisty little girls.

If you’re looking for more things to do with the kids, check out our School Holiday Guide for April 2019!

Feature image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.