By Kim Beair, MS, LPC, NCC & Dr. Kara Beair, DO
Inspiring Strategies for Success by Friends and Experts You Can Trust
You know the drill. Expectations are high for those awesome days between December and January when the kids are out of school. Excitement mounts as the holiday approaches. By December 27, the kids are bored and everyone in the house is irritated by everyone else. What do you need?
Tips for Staying Sane When You’re Homebound with Kids!
You may not know how something impacts your kids – positively or negatively – until they are all grown up. What will they tell their own children about holiday breaks, snowstorms, power outages and the like?
You have the chance to make these sometimes challenging “opportunities” wonderful for your family. You can stress about being homebound, or make it an adventure that will last a lifetime. It is your choice. Remember, you will never get this time back with your kids – so make the most of it!
Remember too, nobody is “SuperParent.” It is ok to get tired and frustrated – and let it show – gently. Just be open and honest about it so your kids will dialogue with you, and model it appropriately so they will also reciprocate in the future when they feel the same way.
Consider the Basics:
1.) Embark on activities for which you have patience.
2.) Short time spans with activities work best. Take a lesson from the Kindergarten teachers and have 10-20 minute activities and set up “stations.” Dining table for arts and crafts, family room for physical play, etc.
3.) Activities need to be age and interest appropriate.
4.) Find your child’s “currency” for tasks that involve “prizes” or “rewards.” Kids will almost always choose things that are less extravagant than you would choose. “Guide” them with ideas for rewards (example – friend comes for a play date or sleepover, movie night with friends at the house, trip w/ friend to restaurant/gaming facility)
5.) Have the kids make badges, crowns and signs for activities that have “winners.” Select random items from the house to use as “trophies” (wooden spoon, ugly coffee mug, old costume jewelry, outdated cheap home décor pieces.)
Kids make the food – with supervision. EVEN TODDLERS! PBJ, cookies, pizza, cupcakes, brownies, cheese and crackers, spreading anything on bread, crackers, toast – let them make bite sized appetizers. Toddlers love stirring or mixing anything – Jell-O and pudding are great
If you have heavy duty cookie cutters, have them make sandwiches and toast into their favorite shapes. Metal cookie cutters are perfect to put into a hot pan and pour pancake batter in for shaped pancakes
Scavenger Hunt – hide random items around the house
Toddlers can “wash dishes” in a pan or bucket. Safe items only.
Make a tent/castle/fort out of chairs or table and blankets. Watch movies, eat lunch in there
Grill hot dogs, marshmallows in the fireplace or on the gas burners. Adult supervision – age 8 and up only!
Indoor Bowling – cups and a ball
Indoor Frisbee and Frisbee Golf – lightweight plastic lids and pans/buckets
Dance to Music TV – imitate the dancers on TV, make up your own moves
Make sock monkeys
Teach kids to tie shoes
Dress up like favorite characters and/or act out a story
Family Trivia – each family member becomes an “expert” on one or more subjects, and writes 20 trivia questions with the answers. Combine the questions later for a fun family trivia game. Categories might be “princess trivia,” “dinosaur trivia,” “race car trivia,” etc. Info can come from old encyclopedias around the house, or the internet. You can also turn this into an “information scavenger hunt.” Family members must look in books or other household places (no internet) for the answers.
Who’s the Boss? Let your child be the parent and you be the kid. 30 minute max. This will give you both a good look at your own behavior. Remember – you are the grown-up – be truthful in your role as “kid” but not mean spirited. If you see some things that are unrecognizable when your child plays “you,” wait till a fun lighthearted moment later and bring it up as a non-threatening topic. You might learn something!
Make anything a tournament!
Video games, Old Board Games, Jump Rope, Hula Hoop, Sit Ups, Push Ups, Jumping Jacks, Tic Tac Toe, Hangman
Use Coloring Sheets, magazine clippings, photos, etc. and have each kid make a collage of whatever they want. After the snow clears, they can be laminated for placemats. The kids can keep them, or give them as Valentines and birthday gifts to grandparents
Make Valentine cards, birthday cards for the year, and keep them ready to mail when the “special” days get closer
Make batches of cookie dough – roll in waxed paper/foil, or in a plastic container. Great gifts for grandparents or aunts and uncles for Vday. Can also keep for yourself for hot cookies later!
Make cards for the kids/families at the Ronald McDonald house or the hospital or for people in nursing homes. Deliver when the weather gets nicer. Use old cards you have laying around – use only the card “fronts” and mail as postcards later
Each child can select a few pieces of gently used clothing or toys to put in a box that will be taken to the homeless shelter when the holiday or weather passes
Like animals? Go to local animal rescue websites and see what they need. Kids can help gather old towels, blankets, etc., for the animals that can be delivered later
If you can do it without stressing your pet, teach the dog some new tricks or give him or her a bath
Make up your own fairytales and write your own book with the kids
Go on the web and design your book, or design coffee mugs, etc w/ family photos and the like. Save them and when the family has birthdays, etc., you have ready-made gifts you can order online. Visit Kodak, Snapfish, or other sites for ideas.
Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer Activity – teach the kids it is FUN TO CLEAN!!!!
Remember the rewards/prizes we discussed above? You may not have the tangible “prize” in your hand, but “tokens” that represent the prizes can be coins, toothpicks, macaroni, Band-Aids, strips of paper, pieces of popcorn, or whatever.
Each child gets their own container to “store” their prize tokens.
The 10 minute blast!
Each child has a list of activities (chores) they can do in their own rooms on the 10 minute blast. There will be one ten minute blast every hour or two.
For instance, in one ten minute segment, the child might try to sort all their dirty laundry, and then bring it into the laundry room…maybe they will pick up all the toys on the floor…or sort all their video games…or make their beds the right way…you get the idea
When they are finished with that blast, they get whatever tokens you have predetermined.
After their rooms have been done, select household activities they each like. Have the one who likes to take out the trash do it. The one who likes to fold towels does that, etc.
Then start on the jobs nobody ever wants to do – dust the baseboards, get cobwebs down, polish the furniture, sort the pantry, clean the tub or toilet (BIG PRIZE FOR THAT!). Remember – all of these are done in 10 minute blasts. ALWAYS REWARD THE CHILD IMMEDIATELY.
Kim Bear, MS, LPC, NCC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oklahoma and National Certified Counselor
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