Christmas is probably the most exciting time of the year for children. They are full of dreams and expectations, and are looking forward to having “a good time” during the holiday. It can be daunting, however, for parents, having to find ideas to entertain the little ones each and every day without necessarily going out and spending money.
Stick to a Routine
Even though it’s holiday, sticking to a routine and being organised is of paramount importance. That involves getting up and getting ready, not just letting the little darlings linger around in front of the TV for hours on end, for example. They might want that at first, but they’ll eventually get bored of it and the inactivity that watching TV implies, might have repercussions on their behaviour, once they stop. So be organised, and insist on a routine, such as breakfast, getting washed and dressed, followed by bed making.
In House Crafts Activities
Stock up your cupboard with lots of children crafts’ supplies, including pens, pencils, colouring books, drawing paper, stickers, paint, pom poms, wiggley eyes, and glitter. You can also use some old pieces of fabric they can use to stick and decorate with. Make cutting the fabric an activity of its own by involving your children, they’ll surely enjoy that! You shouldn’t need to spend a fortune on these as most of it is usually available from the local 99p stores or pound shops in town.
Baking or Making Playdough
This is a wonderful time to bake with your kids and they usually love that! They are tonnes of recipes you can choose from on the internet. However, sometimes simple is the best, especially if kids are involved in the process. So why not try the French “Quatre quarts” cake? Many websites guide you through the recipe and I have chosen “My French Cuisine” blog entry by Estelle posted March 02, 2006, as it is easy and straight forward to follow.
I usually add something, which is not mentioned in the recipe, to my “Quatre quarts” cake. Once it is baked and has cooled down, I recommend that you open it up right in the middle with a large kitchen knife, separate the top from the bottom of the cake, and spread jam on one side, then carefully put the cake back together. It really adds to it.
You could also have a go at making playdough. You do not necessarily need to cook to make playdough. Again there are some quick and easy recipes you can choose from. Christine Redmond offers a choice of three different playdough recipes to choose from in an article she wrote for us on December 25. It is simple and well explained.
If you are not already set up for Christmas, then your children will be more than happy to help you with that, however, you should take into consideration their age and what they are able to do or not. From around age three onward, they should be able to help with decorating the house, that includes the Christmas tree, windows decoration, etc.
Wrapping presents may be suited to older children who do no longer believe in Santa Claus. I would not recommend that as an activity for the little ones, who may wonder why we are doing that.
Outside Play or a Bit of Winter Fun
If there is snow outside, there’s no harm in going and messing around in it. Make sure everyone is well wrapped up. Essentials are hats, scarf and gloves. However, two pairs of socks and trousers may also be necessary especially if you don’t have ski wear at hand.
The most popular winter fun activities in the snow are snow fights and making a snowman. The former may bring arguments followed by tears, however, and I would recommend that you instill rules, such as “no throwing snow on the face,” for example, prior to starting such game. The latter can be challenging at first as it may take a while to gather enough snow to make the two important bits of the snowman, the body and the head. At times, some children may want to give up. Having the final props for your snowman such as a carrot for the nose, buttons or stones for its eyes and other bits for its mouth, as well as an old hat and scarf ready before starting your snowman, is bound to motivate your little ones to go on and finish making it.
Going Round to the Library or Museum
Libraries are usually a nice place to visit. Make a slot for it during the holiday as it allows your children to be in a different environment than the house and it’s free. Check for activities sometimes organised by your local library, such as story times for toddlers, or themed reading or writing competition for older children.
If you live in London, you can visit most museums for free, so an outing to one of them can also be a “day out” and a day less to worry about what you are going to do! Again, depending on your children’s ages and interests, check for what is on offer and where. While the Museum of Childhood may be suitable for most ages, the Natural History or Science Museum might only be of interest to older children.
Keeping the kids occupy during the holiday season is not always easy, especially if you have children of different ages, who therefore have different interests and may or may not be entitled to, or qualify for, the same activities organised by your local community, as most of the latter are age range restricted.
It is important therefore that you get organised yourself in designing activities suitable for all, or different activities suited to each of them in a way and place which makes it convenient for you to monitor and supervise. Good Luck!!