Can we all agree that the two to three-week holiday break when schools close and kids are homebound is at least angst-inducing, and can even stir up feelings of dread? I love my kids, I know you love yours too, and I want them to have fun, be entertained, possibly even be a little productive during vacation. I finally decided that I owe it to them and myself (because if I hear “mo-o-oom, I’m bo-o-oored,” one more time…) to figure out what to do ahead of time and appointed myself to the position of in-house activity director last December. Here are some tips and tricks to help smooth the bumpy ride of the holiday vacation, while extinguishing your kids’ boredom.
The Little Ones
My favourite age, the speeding ball of energy/tornado/kindergarteners are, I think, also the scariest. How on earth do you occupy a five-year-old for fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for two weeks in a row? Learning. These kiddos are awesome because they’re fresh. They like school and they want to learn. They want to have homework like their bigger siblings and know all the things they can know. Use this to your advantage. Printable and fun worksheets can be found on many websites, one of my favourites is education.com which offers printables on every subject from math to mindfulness to shapes and colours. Print these on coloured paper or give your little one crayons to make it look more fun. Don’t forget to break it up with a game of hide-and-seek or a quick play in the snow. Snack time can be fun too. Try making apple smiles with apple slices sandwiching peanut butter gums and marshmallow teeth.
The Grade Schoolers
These guys love crafts and you don’t have to shell out more than a couple bucks, if that, to ensure that your busy body 7-11 year old will enjoy morning after morning of fun with art. Gather up the art supplies; coloured paper, crayons, scissors, markers, ribbon, pompoms, beads, whatever you have on hand and let them go at it. I offered mine a few ideas on the first day, we made homemade galaxy-coloured slime and beaded necklaces, and she was off and running. I was presented with tissue paper butterflies, painted jars, paper heart chains, cut snowflakes and so much more, and the best part was that she was happy day after day. These kiddos are also eager to help wrap presents and bake cookies.
The Tweens and Teens
As soon as my son hit 12 years old, I was not cool anymore and I certainly didn’t have any cool ideas. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. So, I was hesitant to direct his attention to anything for fear it would backfire and he’d completely shun the activity. Here’s the secret: Let them take the lead. If they have a favourite author, simply say “I’m going to the library.” If she’s starting to take an interest in makeup, ask her for a makeover and make sure to praise the results. Conversation will start to get rare soon, so show them that you take a genuine interest in anything, and I mean anything, they want to tell you about, by asking questions and then rephrasing and repeating what they’ve just told you. Screen time should be limited at any age and this can be hard to stick to during school breaks but once you get them talking, teaching you new things, they’ll forget all about social media for a few minutes at least. If you have a techie teen offer to buy them an online course from SkillSuccess.com that teaches you how to create (instead of just use) apps!
Fun for everyone
If anyone is into sports, I highly recommend looking into what your local YMCA and community centre have to offer in the way of swimming lessons, kiddie dance classes, or even all-age crafty classes like basket weaving for beginners. At the end of the day, over dinner or whenever you have a moment together, get everyone’s feedback on how their day went and what they liked so you can tweak tomorrows activities accordingly.
Once you get the hang of boredom blasting it really does come naturally and once you know what your youngster gravitates to over the holiday break, spring break will be an ace in the hole.