During the holiday season, many parents struggle to keep their kids ‘entertained’ without school and daycare in session. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the most important (and often easiest) way is to reframe your thoughts around what it truly means to entertain your children. Here are some tips to keep your children happy and engaged this holiday season:
Make Your Space Accessible - Depending on your child’s age, allow a variety of toys, games, art supplies, sensory stations, etc. to be accessible to them (with supervision of course), without requiring them to specifically ask for it or for you to set aside special time for it. This can take the pressure off of both you and your child and allow for fun to happen more naturally.
Provide Open Ended, Unstructured Activities - Try to encourage and model play involving blocks, drawing materials, boxes, animals, legos, etc. All of these toys have something in common: they can be used in an infinite number of ways! There are also many great ways to encourage unstructured play without any toys at all. Activities like running, climbing, tag, hide and seek, chasing bubbles, and collecting pieces of nature, typically do not cost money and require very little from us. Plus, kids love them!
Involve Kids In Your Daily Routines - Spending extra time at home during the cold winter weeks and time off from school/daycare can result in parents feeling cooped up and overwhelmed with household duties. Things like cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, washing tables and picking up leaves can often be adapted in ways that allow children to be involved as well. Kids don’t need fancy toys, games or day trips - they often merely want to feel involved, useful and appreciated.
Don’t assume ‘entertainment’ always costs money - Go to the park or a bundled-up nature walk, build forts with sheets and pillows, create a secret hideout, house or boat with cardboard boxes, make music with pots and pans, have a dance party! There are a variety of free ways to keep kids of all ages busy, all it takes is a little creativity!
Remember, your job as a parent is not to entertain your children but to love, support and nurture them.
-Lillian Hallett M.S., CCC-SLP