When the schools are broken up fostering is a different kettle of fish.
For foster children everything's "broken". Their home, their school.
On a normal school week your brood are got up and out of the house Monday to Friday, with all the usual moans. No problem.
From around eight/eight thirty in the morning you've got the place to yourself and it's down to what are increasingly called 'Chores'.
The little ones show up again in your life about four, kick off their shoes in the hall, dump their backpack on the mat and vanish to the sanctuary of their own bedroom in order to experience what is now called 'Chilling'.
Saturday and Sunday are different. It all depends on what age foster child/children you have whether you're going to be entertainments manager or a spare part because they have got their social life sorted (for better or for worse).
But when it's holiday time...
All day every day. And the Christmas break is the most interesting because the weather and the early darkness mean they are...
You have your contingencies; X Box helps. If you have Sky there's always a Spongebob on somewhere in planet earth. I say let them get bored at first, then they're marginally more grateful for your (feeble) efforts to amuse them.
Come day three they are climbing the walls.
Time for baking. Why do we bother? We get all the ingredients together, do the bulk of it then ALL the clearing up...
Time for painting/drawing. See above.
I've tried traditional pastimes such as house-based treasure hunts, extreme hide and seek.
Board games. They point out that they are called bored games.
Tried my own pastimes; tobogganing down the stairs on an Amazon flat pack cardboard box which causes great excitement which lasts for eight to ten minutes.
Mannequin challenge (new - and recommended). We used to call it 'Statues' when I was knee high. The last one remaining static wins.
If you're lucky...very VERY lucky, you might get them...talking!
Let the temperature drop, the urgency wane, and sometimes, they chat. I'm not talking Alan Carr here, three minutes of interplay is all you get, but it's golden.
People who are new to fostering hope that their foster children will open up about their lives, but they view their past as a failure and are haunted by the thought that it was all their fault. But when they are around you all day every day for a few weeks on end, they sometimes open up a bit and it's priceless;
Child: "I know what my mum is doing now"
Foster Mum: "What's she doing then?"
C: "Shouting. Probably at my dad."
F says nothing, nothing can be a very good thing to say.
C: "She shouts a lot."
F: "What about?'
F: "Oh dear. What do you do when she's shouting?"
C: "Well..." (thinks)... I used to go upstairs. But then I started to tell her to stop it. But I used to end up shouting too, so that didn't work."
F: "Did she shout at you?'
C: "God yeah...duh!"
F: "What for?"
C: "I dunno."
F: "What, you mean you got shouted at but you never found out why?'
C: "Yeah. Kind of."
F: "Like you'd done something wrong but you didn't know what it was."
C: "Yeah, maybe. Bye."
And gone. Which was how we learned, one Christmas Eve, why the child was permanently experimenting with disruptive behaviours in order to try to understand what would earn rebuke and reprimand and what was acceptable.
A lucky break, and all because there was an extended commercial break on the blessed Spongebob.