For some families the anticipation of a 2 week winter break is just as exciting for the grownups as it is the kids. Other parents may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of children being home. In either case it is important to plan ahead. Here are few tips to help your family make the most of the break.
*Disclaimer: if you are headed out for a week of skiing or a warm beach, please disregard this adviceJ
- Make a “To Do” List. Make your list before the break begins so that you don’t waste the first few days getting organized. This list should include a combination of fun things your family would like to do that may be seasonal, or take more time to accomplish then you typically have in a school week. This may mean researching local holiday events, or gathering arts and craft supplies. The list should also include large and small tasks to help you feel more organized in the coming year. Putting these chores on the list helps to keep them a priority. Parents of younger kids may need to think about playdates or childcare to help them accomplish goals. Parents of older children should encourage them to also set some goals to check off the “To Do” list.
- 2. Set limits on screen time. Most kids want to spend time in front of screens, and as busy parents it is easy to let them. But research shows more than two hours a day of screen time can be detrimental to their overall health and well-being. Children 2 years and under should spend no time in front of screens. If you know you have to work, or are hoping to check a task off your to do list and can’t help entertain your child then play dates can be a great solution. For younger kids trade off with families, take someone’s child one day and in return have them take yours another. For older kids play dates allow you time to yourself while the kids are active and entertained. Be thoughtful and involved when they do watch or play on screens. Make a list of movies your think they might enjoy, pick shows that will help them learn and grow and games that you approve. Screen time can also be family time, why not pick a few movies to add to the “To Do” list for family fun.
- 3. Be active. Admittedly, there are some December and January days in Ohio when it is best to stay inside and play board games. However, there are plenty of days when we should bundle up and go for a hike, ice skating, family jog, build a fort with sticks…or if we are lucky build a snowman and go sledding, or have a backyard fire. Getting fresh air will help clear the mind for the coming year.
- Get plenty of rest. Kids’ young and old want to stay up late because it is not a school night. School is just one of many reasons to get a good night’s rest. While we are sleeping the body repairs muscles and releases hormones during sleep that regulate growth. Memory consolidation, time to organize and process the information collected throughout the day happens while we sleep and the body burns off toxins and completes digestion from the day while it sleeps. If those are not enough reasons to get everyone in bed a descent hour, how about being over tired and cranky surrounded by overtired and cranky kids. We have all been there, but try not to make that your reality over winter break. Prioritize sleep.
- Schedule time as a family. Without evening homework and hopefully with a break from extracurricular activities the evenings can be more relaxed. Schedule time for games, movies, reading and going out and into the community. Reading is something we do with our younger children daily and hopefully can do more often over break, but older kids may enjoy making reading a family activity as well. Pick a book or series to read together and have your own family book club. Be active as a family with exercise and outdoor play. Try to pick activities everyone can enjoy.
The most important thing about winter break is don’t waist it. Don’t let it pass by with bored kids and stressed out parents. With a little planning we can make every day count. I hope you and your family have a great winter break.