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5 Ways to Survive Winter Break Doldrums

Published on: December 15, 2014

Raise your hand if you think winter break is the worst. The kids just finally settle into a routine for school and then BAM! You got two weeks of nothing. No schedule. No nothing. Just hours and hours of “Can I have something to eat?” and “I’m so bored.”

Here are five activities that may help you survive winter break with your sanity intact:

1. Blanket forts

Everyone loves blanket forts! And a properly supplied blanket fort can occupy kids for an entire day if you do your prep work. They key is to keep them building. Gather a few chairs, a card table, maybe a sled or something – stuff that you can accidentally “find” when things start to wind down. If you can figure out how to safely string up some lights inside, you might not see your kids until after the holidays.

Bonus points: If everyone makes their own annex, cooperative play is easy!

2. Let them go catalogue crazy

With the advent of the Advent season, you might be — just possibly — noticing an influx of catalogues in your mailbox. Save the interesting ones and give them to your kids along with a Sharpie. They will automatically start circling everything they want. It doesn’t even have to be a toy catalogue. I gave my son a hardware catalogue once. That year he asked for a speakeasy and vintage door lock combination for his birthday. Be friendly and positive as you remind them every three minutes that they don’t get everything (anything?) they circle.

The next time they’re bored, hand over the marked-up catalogue and a sheet of paper with encouragement to write down everything they circled. Be friendly and positive as you remind them every three minutes that they don’t get everything they write down.

Bonus points: Working on penmanship like a BOSS.

3. Hold a film festival

Hold an Indiana Jones film festival! Or watch all the Muppets movies in chronological order. Or maybe focus on the evolution of Transformers from 1980s to Michael Bay! Whatever you want. The best thing about the film festival idea is that it makes a great excuse to show your kids every movie you ever watched as a child that made some sort of impression.

Choose your films beforehand. Then, once you’ve made your selections, write them down on the calendar. This is important. It makes it an official activity. It’s also an incredibly effective way to shut down the “I wanna watch [something else]!” arguments. You simply point to the calendar and say, “Sorry! That’s what it says on the calendar!” It’s weird if you think about it too much but no one ever argues with the calendar.

Bonus skills: Critical thinking and Muppets From Space.

4. Clean out your closet

Besides Minecraft and listing all the stuff they want, there is nothing that kids love more than to poke through all your old crap. My kids would sleep in my closet if I let them. Give them permission to sift through the detritus of your life before they were even born and you've got a triple Yahtzee for sure.

Old jewelry box full of rhinestones? JACKPOT! Four-inch heels you haven’t worn since 2007? DOUBLE JACKPOT! Old leather jacket with a stale cigarette you were "holding for a friend at a Pavement show" crumbled up in the pocket? SUPER JACKPOT! (And also heart-stopping because why is that in there?) Box full of pictures of you when you were a dorky looking kid? KAIJU-LEVELS OF MEGA-JACKPOT!

Never underestimate the power of all the junk in your closet.

Bonus points: Your closet might actually get clean. (But probably not.)

5. Dog bowling

This one is limited since it’s only for those people that A) have a dog and B) don’t mind it tearing through the house. Because basically, Dog Bowling is a modified game of fetch.

Start with the dog standing behind you. Then lean over so that you are looking through your legs. You will be upside down in relation to your dog but in a perfect position to see through the dog’s feet. The object of the game is to roll a tennis ball through your dog’s forelegs, back legs, and into the next room before he/she catches it. Fifty points for each set of legs you clear and 100 points if it goes into the next room.

Bonus points: Play long enough and you don’t have to go on a rainy dog walk!

So stock up on markers! Check out some film recommendations. And dig out those binder clips. You are going to power through this winter break like it’s a three-day weekend: easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. You got this.


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