Making winter break FUN!!!
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Holidays provide us with time to spend with our kids. We look forward to this time! But a few days into the break it can start to feel like too much time. How to keep the winter break fun while minimizing disputes, restlessness and misbehaviour isn’t at all what you would guess. In fact, it’s downright counter-intuitive. Two weeks can feel like a very long time to have the kids at home, especially when so much planning and money is required for the celebrations that occur during this time. What to do with the rest of the holiday? Many of the guides to entertaining kids over the holidays recommend the same ideas over and over and always seem to focus on special events for families that draw huge crowds or cost money. That is not my idea of a great time, particularly when everyone is already tired and financially tapped out from the hustle-bustle of the season. The best news is that it is not even necessary. Exhausted parents dragging cranky kids to the jam-packed local “free skate” isn’t likely to contribute to peace and happiness. Even if it does, there are still so many hours left in the day. What to do…. The answer to having happier kids over the holidays is more work, fewer toys and less entertainment. Shocking. I know. Hear me out. Kids, much like adults, value what they have to earn. If screen time is an unlimited free-for-all, it is a sure-fire recipe for grumpy, squabbling kids that will not be a joy to live with. If the day starts with an expectation, for example making their bed or feeding the cat, the cartoons in jammies have been earned. The key here is to make our kids earn access to what they view as pleasurable to help them value the reward and appreciate the time. Gratitude is joyful. And that which is earned is appreciated more. Earning their way to fun = calm, happy kids Long winter days at home need a loose framework to keep kids happy and thriving. Having a bowl of cereal in jammies while watching cartoons is a blissful experience on winter break! But leaving the kids in jammies and letting them watch half a day’s worth of TV is almost guaranteed to result in loud arguments, a wrestling match and possibly a broken lamp in the living room. Enter: the great outdoors! Outdoor play will get rid of the natural energy kids have so they’re not driving Mom and Dad bonkers inside. Whether it’s playing in the yard, a trip around the block on bikes or a family walk to the park, I liken kids to puppies in this regard. This energy exists quite naturally. They can be guided in healthy, productive ways to spend it, or you can have your favourite pair of shoes ruined by them instead. I’m joking about the shoes, but the analogy is sound. Energy out = calm, happy kids. We know that kids need to be bored sometimes for their brains to develop critical skills like imagination, creativity, tenacity, problem-solving, confidence, mental health and a sense of belonging. It’s a GOOD thing. It’s a NECESSARY thing. Switching up the activity framework i