November. Just the word sends shivers up a parent’s spine. Ok, maybe not that word by itself, but the knowledge that the holidays are coming and that the kiddos will need some extra activities to keep them busy over the break.
Holidays are stressful enough, so an ounce of preparation now will ensure that your festivities will go as planned, and that everyone remains jolly.
Here are five suggestions of things to do over the holidays with the kids which are (relatively) easy and (thankfully) inexpensive to do.
1. Enlist the Kids’ Help in Writing and Drawing a Cartoon
My kids love to draw and love to tell stories. Hence, the marriage of both comes in the form of cartoons. As any writer will tell you, the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect of anything they will conceive. In fact, it is probably better to allow them the freedom to rewrite it.
You can easily set ground rules if you’re so inclined. They will enjoy the independence and creativity. Who knows? You may have the next Charles Schulz, or Gary Larson on your hands!
2. The Library is Your Friend
My kids love to read and look at pictures. We are also very fortunate that Mommy is a librarian. Again, a win-win. The boys could spend hours in a library looking through the plethora of books. Stock up on ones that fit their interest, as well as a couple that help embody the season that you can read together as a family.
Maybe you could have some already picked out for them? Maybe books which could have an educational theme like architecture, sea life or super hero cookbooks? The advantage of a library over a bookstore is that all the books are free to take out. Yet, a bookstore is an alternative if you think you can get out unscathed financially.
3. Schedule an Outing
Share the great resources in your area with your house guests by working a family trip into the schedule. Imagine a caravan of cars heading to a local park, museum, or zoo, with you in the lead. Getting out with family and friends also gives those at home preparing food a chance to do it without interruptions.
Museums– We are fortunate (so to speak) in that we live close to Manhattan with its abundance of museums of all kinds. Ok, there may be an entrance fee and a cost for lunch or snacks, but not all museums are money drains. Museums could be about anything – railroads, art, the Civil or Revolutionary Wars, Natural History, Native Americans, ships, etc. Every section of the country has its own history and development. Opportunities for fun and education are a wonderful thing.
Zoos– The good thing about going to a Zoo (is there a bad thing?) is that there are animals there that are not a part of your natural habitat no matter where you live. The kids will be able to see what these animals do during the winter. Going during holidays also helps prevent long lines. I haven’t met a kid yet (or adult, for that matter) who doesn’t like going to the zoo. The only downside (like museums) could be financial. Oh, and the cold weather thing could put a little damper on the walking around. But, you can make it like an adventure to explore all sorts of animals.
4. Make a Video
Go ahead and tap into that internal Spielberg, or Scorsese. My kids love to make videos. True, they usually do annoying things in their videos, like screaming or talking about poop way too much, but your videos can be more structured. One technique that professionals use is a storyboard, i.e., planning what and how they will tell and SHOW their story. This allows the kids to conceive, prepare and execute their vision and then, see the culmination of their work in front of their eyes. The structure of visual storytelling is a great learning opportunity. There will be some screen time for editing, but it least has a purpose rather than blindly, or blankly, looking or watching something.
I have worked with the public for a number of years and there are two indisputable truths with people. One is that everybody needs the human connection. This connection can take place in a variety of forms, like volunteering. Visiting a nursing home, serving meals at a homeless shelter, helping a local veteran’s hall or hospital, are just a couple of ideas.
The second thing that is true is that people need the perspective of a higher purpose in life which directly involves helping other people. Volunteering can help kids AND their parents with both of these. Even though my kids focus on themselves and have a “what’s in it for me?” mindset, they have responded very positively when we have helped or come to the aid of those less-fortunate than ourselves. And, it’s free.
Of course, these ideas are great ideas for those families who have a stay-at-home parent. If you are not so “lucky”, the opportunity of a Holiday day-camp may be the ticket, if it is available in your area and you can afford it.
Nevertheless, the key thing these all have in common is peace of mind, both BEFORE and AFTER the holidays. There are relatively easy to plan and execute and won’t provide a huge drain on the wallet.
It’s November. Start planning now so that you can look at the holidays as a time to make family memories, rather than “Oh, my God, it’s December, what are we going to do with the kids?” time.
If you have other ideas, please share them in the Comments section below where we can all enjoy each other’s ideas.
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