Winter break staycations are long stretches of down time, and without travel, school, or planned activities, kids (and adults!) have a magnetic pull to devices (it’s not just my kids, right?). You don’t have to jam-pack your days with 9-to-5 programming, but steal a few of these ideas to get your kids moving, creating, and inventing!
A classic, hilarious day that will keep your kids giggling and gasping at every turn. Here are some favorite ways to play.
•Mealtime Madness: Eat breakfast or lunch under the table like this idea from Real Simple. Consider the crazy idea of eating dinner for breakfast or dessert before the meal.
•Wacky Wardrobe: Wear pajamas during the day or tie a sock around your head as a headband. My kids crack up every time they turn their t-shirts into head scarves!
•Backwards Books: Read a bedtime story from end to the beginning. Choose a book that your kids know well and ask for their help. Cue the giggles!
It’s a good time of year to talk about the passage of time, how grown-up your kids have gotten, and how families change every year. Travel back in time (and into the future) with these bonding activities.
•Time capsule: Package up a box with elements of here and now. Include things like newspaper articles, a photo of you and your kids taken that exact day, a ticket stub from a recent movie, or a list of the top ten songs of the year. Make sure to plug the date into the calendar a year, two years, or five years in the future so you don’t forget to dig it up!
•Family Tree: Teach your kids about lineage and how even their grandparents had parents who told them to brush their teeth and go to bed! Create a simple family tree like this one from my first book Project Kid, using Play-doh lids and branches from the backyard.
•Fast Forward: Kids love imagining what their futures hold, and role playing it with them is a great way to have them think about what it would mean to have that dream job, family, house, etc. Plan a family “dinner party” where everyone comes to the table as who they imagine they’ll be in the future. Dress the part and ask questions to get to know each other’s future selves.
Inventions don’t have to be mechanical gadgets and gizmos that require rocket science degrees to figure out. Explain to your kids that artists, authors, and chefs are all inventors in one way or another. Give your kids an opportunity to reinvent and reimagine something that they’re familiar with.
•Happy Endings: Spend a moment thinking about your kids’ favorite book or movie and consider what would have happened if things had gone a different way. What if Dorothy had taken the other yellow brick road? What if Elsa had never accidentally zapped Anna with magic frozen powers? Write down the way the story would have gone, invent new characters if needed, and make drawings to go with the major plot twists.
•Get Cooking!: It’s proven that when kids get involved in the kitchen, they are more likely to try new foods and flavors. Talk about what you want to make together and find a recipe that works for you. Check out the book Cooking Class by Deanna Cook which gives you great tips and tricks for getting your kids involved.
•Bits and Bots: One of my favorite crafts to do with kids is robot crafting. The reason I like it so much is because there is no right or wrong. If you want to add a red on/off switch, go for it. If your robot has an extra arm just for holding a bucket of Legos, why not? Start with a base like this one, scour your house for materials, and let your imagination take off!
Home Sweet Home
As the New Year approaches, start by making some changes to the space in which you live. Nothing inspires a fresh start like a little home environment editing.
•Clean and Lean: There’s literally no better time to edit down what you have than the fresh start of a New Year. As gifts are coming in, think, out with the old, in with the new. Challenge the kids to pick one item from every year of their age to donate (so a 5-year-old would choose 5 things). Clothes, toys, books, magazines…all fair game!
•Change It Up: Even if it’s not time for a new sofa or you can’t quite rationalize spending the cash on a new rug, you can give your home a refresh with what you already have. Rearrange the art on your walls, color-code your bookshelf, move a lamp to a new corner, and let the kids figure out how to make simple changes in their bedrooms. A casual wall display like this one from Design Sponge shows you that things don’t have to feel too precious.
•Adorn a Door: People are often afraid of bold wall paint, but it can do wonders for adding a pop when you need it. Here’s the quickest, easies, and most affordable tip: just paint a door. We painted the inside of our front door a sunshine yellow, and it made a small but impactful difference.