Keeping Kids Busy Over Winter Break
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson
Family Activities & Crafts
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Two weeks with your grade-school children! How lovely! At least for a day or two. What then? Here are my favorite tips for keeping kids happy and out of your hair over winter break.
Have a daily schedule and write it down where everyone can see. Don’t worry if your children can’t read yet. Just knowing there’s a list of things that will happen each day gives the time some shape and some purpose. Kids feel less lost and more comfortable when they know there’s a plan
And having a plan makes it easier for you to regulate TV use, snack times, rest time, time for reading or homework and so on. So start your daily schedule with breakfast and work right on through the day until bedtime. Block off time for outdoor play – this could be a trip to the park, playing in the yard, or taking a walk around the neighborhood. Include time for reading or reading aloud. Include time for chores or errands. Whatever will happen during the day gets a spot on the schedule.
Make sure to also include some quiet time that is unscheduled. Boredom is good for kids – it opens their minds to new ideas and inspires creativity. So don’t think that keeping a schedule means you have to be the on-call entertainer. When children run out of things to do during time when “there’s nothing to do” dig out some old, forgotten toys, set them to making stuff, or check out my own list of 50 Things To Do Over Winter Break.
I like to use a large chalkboard for the schedule. I picked up one at Goodwill for a dollar or two – but you can use a big sheet of paper as well. The important thing is that the schedule is written fresh every day. You don’t want every day to be the same, and most days will be different from each other. In addition, kids want to be able to cross things off or erase them as they are accomplished. If you have more than one child in the household, they may need to take turns performing this exciting task!
Some other general thoughts that will preserve your sanity and help kids have a pleasant time:
• Children are responsible for keeping themselves busy, not a parent (you are not their social director).
• Being bored is not a waste of time, it’s the gateway to thinking new thoughts.
• Too much screen time is too much screen time. Make certain there’s a good balance of electronic and old-fashioned fun.
• Getting outside and running around is essential for mental health – yours! Even if it’s cold and wet, bundle up and get outdoors.
• You get what you notice so notice good stuff
• Ignore as much bad behavior as you can
• Aim for activities that make a child feel responsible, capable, and grown up
And have fun. If you are in a good mood, everyone else will be too.
© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.