What on Earth are we going to do with the kids these holidays?

Every-one looks forward to the holidays but the idea of keeping the kids busy and out of trouble can be extremely daunting, and stressful on the purse strings! Following, is an idea to help you maintain some structure, which most kids need, as well as some activity ideas and sites to help you enjoy your time at home with the kids without having to strain your brain every day.


Daily planner idea

Each day at breakfast (or the night before, whatever suits your family) take the time to plan your day. It might take a while the first day, but once you get into the habit, it shouldn’t take long at all.

1. Write a list of all the things you need to do each day, such as eating times, jobs, visits to the shops/ family/friends houses, baths, feeding the dog. Remember to include the things you need to do as well.

2. Organise the day into parts. Include the things you do each day, time for active activities, time for passive, or quiet activities, and time for activities that you do together. Try to have a  quiet activity follow  active or physical activities so that your children do not get over stimulated (and vice versa).

3.  Discuss, or write down the activities that you could do in each part of the day. This way, you won’t feel pressure to try and think up something amazing that is the answer to everybody’s dreams on the spot, when they ask ‘what can I do now?’ You might want to cut up your list, throw it in a jar and get the kids to pick out an activity each.

Some notes about different activity types during the day.


Unstructured and quite time – encourage boredom inspired resourcefulness.

While many parents are quite fearful of child directed play these days, because they worry it equals children getting up to mischief, it is extremely important for learning how to apply rules, learn  what is ‘fair’ and discover how others might see things differently. Those loud arguments about whether an out of bounds ball was actually out of bounds actually serve a purpose.

Children also need time to stop and stare. The ability to take pleasure and interest in their own ideas and imagination requires practice. Looking out the window has its benefits in developing creativity and resourcefulness. For example, A.A. Milne wrote a poem, “Waiting at the Window,”  in which the narrator names two drops of rain, then creates a pretend drama as they make their way to the bottom. Such suspense!

If you let your children  know that a part of the day is going to be set aside for independent play and quiet time then you are setting up the expectation that they can do it with-out getting themselves into trouble, or coming to you whinging about being bored. Allotting the time, and letting them know what it is for, does two things.
1. It stops children from thinking this is a ‘nothing to do’ time and that just because nothing has been organised for them, they must be bored.
2. It puts some responsibility back on to them to entertain themselves. Children actually thrive on a bit of responsibility. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.
This is the time where they can organise their own activities, invent games, play in the sandpit / toy room, draw pictures, play with the dog, read, think and dream.


Time spent together

When you make your plan, it becomes obvious to everyone how much time you spend together, involved in activities. It is really good for children to be able to see this, as they often take for granted the times that you are spending with them, but they sure notice if you are doing your own thing and they can certainly let you know that this is not to their liking! This is not because children are selfish, they just need things pointed out to them sometimes because they just don’t know any better. Don’t let them ‘guilt’ you into giving up all your time to play with them. Using your daily plan, you can now say to them, ‘When you have finished your play time, then it is time for us to play a game/ do some cooking’. Remember, if they pester you, the ‘together time’ can always be reduced. Alternatively, if you can see they are making a big effort to ‘stick to the plan’ the together time can be made to seem more exciting and special.

The main points

1. Plan your days, it helps you stay on track with the things you have to do as well.
2. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to entertain your children all day, especially with expensive trips, encourage resourcefulness.
3. Do try to allow time for physical activity each day. Taming children with excess stored energy can be stressful!
4. Break up quiet activities and active activities so that your children do not get over or under stimulated.
5. Don’t feel as though you have to stick to the structure and the allotted times rigidly, think of the plan as something that is there as support, if you need it.

I wish you a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year, a great holiday and I look forward to being in contact next year.

Check out these websites and my list of activity ideas that follow:

Useful Websites

http://www.savvysource.com/ - an American site, but it has a pretty good list of activity ideas


http://www.zoompacks.com.au – Kids Pack packs that arrive on your doorstep already packed full of activities kids can do while travelling

http://www.toddlertricks.com - TODDLER TRICKS gives the parents of toddlers a whole box of on-line tricks that they can use to have happy, healthy fun-times with their toddler every day. They all cost nothing, or next to nothing and have been tried and tested on real live toddlers!  Toddler Tricks is delivered by a weekly blog which you can subscribe to through Facebook, by email or Twitter.  If you know the parent of a toddler, or are one yourself, then you are going to love Toddler Tricks. COME CHECK OUR TRICKS OUT!

Activity ideas

(If you have any other favourites, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list)
1. Make play dough.
2. Learn magic tricks together and put on a show.
3. Create awards at awardwinner.com
4. Make bubbles.
5. Have a photo taking contest. Share cameras.
6. Sign up for a walk or run for a cause.
7. Write letters to soldiers.
8. Go to the library and take out books, rent books on tape and movies.
9. Have colouring contests.
10. Plan a picnic indoors.
11. Have breakfast food for dinner.
12. Hold cooking classes in your own kitchen, invite friends.
13. Share favourite birthday and holiday stories.
14. Rent dance videos and hold a dance contest.
15. Create books using pictures from magazines.
16. Visit nursing homes, bring musical instruments and put on a show.
17. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
18. Make cupcakes and have a decorating party.
19. Download free e-books.
20. Hold a family game night.
21. Visit the zoo.
22. Design a family website.
23. Fill with family pictures and stories.
24. Go rollerblading.
25. Attend free festivals.
26. Attend free concerts.
27. Press flowers and make cards.
28. Decorate thank-you notes, write messages inside, put stamps on envelopes
they will be ready to go as needed.
29. Decorate placemats on construction paper and cover with contact paper.
30. Play charades.
31. Decorate small notebooks and begin a daily journal.
32. Organize dresser drawers.
33. Clean bedrooms.
34. Draw pictures and mail to other family members.
35. Finger paint with shaving foam.
36. Collect rocks and paint them.
37. Tie dye T-shirts and matching socks
38. Share daydreams.
39. Rent a yoga video for kids.
40. Rent dance videos and have a contest after practicing.
41. Make a bird feeder.
42. Wash the family cars together.
43. Make macaroni jewellery and art.
44. Visit playgrounds and local parks.
45. Visit a working farm.
46. Take nature walks.
47. Go fishing.
48. Arrange photo albums.
49. Play torch tag.
50. Practice musical instruments.
51. Do brain teasers.
52. Trace cookie cutters, decorate and cut out.
53. Write stories about past family events you have in photo albums.
54. Play card games.
55. Decorate clay pots.
56. Plant flowers in the decorated pots.
57. Do jigsaw puzzles.
58. Sleep outside under the stars.
59. Research a new hobby at the library.
60. Play a family memory game. ie What are the name of your great-grandparents?
61. Make a collage of what you are thankful for.
62. Make paper bag puppets.
63. Write love and appreciation letters to each other.
64. Cut out coupons together.
65. Read to each other from joke books.
66. Make friendship pins.
67. Make potato stamp art.
68. Play scrabble.
69. Do science experiments.
70. Create a secret family code.
71. Plan next summer’s holiday
72. Play indoor golf.
73. Play broom ball.
74. Practice and become good at hackey sack.
75. Each child collects things they don’t use anymore. Play bingo and choose things for prizes.
76. Have a fashion show.
77. Study a topic and hold a debate.
78.  Visit a farmer’s market.
79. Visit a flea market.
80. Visit an auction.
81. Watch a sporting event you’ve never seen before.
82. Learn how to use a compass and practice your skills.
83. Try to break a world record.
84. Play Frisbee
85. Go on a scavenger hunt.

Author:Meg Parkinson