Winter Break Is for Parents Too –

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Winter Break Is for Parents Too

Children have lots of free time during the winter break. Unfortunately, their open schedule can leave parents with a lot of downtime that they aren’t used to having during the school year. But don’t fret, parents, this year we have some strategies and solutions for taking advantage of the winter break and providing joy and merriment for the little ones, as well as some well-deserved relaxation for yourselves while still adding a little educational fun into things. Free Time Wrapped With You in Mind This year, give yourself a gift you may never have thought of before: free time. It’s much easier than one might think, but it does require a little creativity. Try purchasing a couple of gifts for your children that that will have a small “reward” for you too. A gift card to the movie theater is an inexpensive way to get the kids out the house for a few hours alone or with your partner so that you have a chance to read your favorite book or catch up on your favorite television shows. Movies are a great way to test your children’s memory skills. If possible, try to send them to a movie you have already seen, and when they return, enjoy a conversation about the plot and main characters. Another great gift idea that will give you some free time is sports tickets. Dad or a good friend can shuttle the kids off to the football game while mom leisurely saunters off to get a manicure or perhaps a massage. Sports such as football are a great activity to get children honing their math and strategy skills without even realizing it. With extra planning, you can experience the fun of winter break that is usually reserved for the children.

Playing Together Might Just Be the Break You Desire The winter months may not offer the same outdoor possibilities as spring or summer, but they do offer something no other season does – snow. Tap into your inner child, put on your snowsuit and get outside! Don’t forget to embrace winter flurries, as they present a great time for togetherness. Many entertaining outdoor winter activities require very little planning and offer an abundance of family fun. Sledding and building snow forts or igloo creations offer an education challenge too, because they require children to act as creative problem-solvers amid unruly winter conditions. Technically, you don’t actually need a sled to go shooting down a hill. Harness your creativity and have your child discover what a heavy-duty trash bag can do on snow. Show them how to sit on the bag and use their feet as brakes. This alternative solution will not only save you money, but it will surely surprise young riders with plenty of speed down a hill. If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t get much snow, you can enhance the sled-riding experience with the old plastic water slide as a makeshift track. This trick can also work in places where hills are hard to come by. Just sprinkle some snow, lay down a trash bag and watch the family jet across the lawn.

Building with snow can provide hours of amusement and education. The essential ingredients are a few children, a handful of five-gallon buckets and, last but not least, snow. The buckets are used to create crude “bricks” and then organized to build walls.  Gently pack snow into the bucket, turn it over and tap on the bottom to release the “brick.” Stack the “bricks” three or four high in a semicircle and make sure to keep an opening as an entrance. Long branches laid out across the top can form a roof for your snow fort. If you don’t have a bucket, roll snowballs as big as basketballs and stack them on top of each other. When you are finished with your fort and your children still have some energy to burn, build a snowman to represent someone in the family. When you are all finished, come back inside and whip up a big batch of hot cocoa. End the day winding down and snuggle up for a family book, game or even a traditional holiday movie. Of course, if you don’t get any snow, long walks on the beach or trail blazing on bikes are always good alternatives to the everyday. Sprinkle in a word game here or there, and you’ll be surprised how quickly your child will forget his or her handheld gaming device. More importantly, sometimes the best way to refresh and renew is not to break away from your child, but to come together.

Quiet Time Revives Getting comfortable with independent time is an essential part of your child’s development. When you and your child have exhausted one another, take a timeout. Press the pause button on family games, entertainment and group tasks and initiate quiet-time retreats. Make this event a fun one by asking your child to pick which room he or she would like to rule as king or queen. Your child can turn the lights on or off and make a fort to read in, or they can create train tracks out of books strewn across the floor. Whatever your child does in this room, it’s his and hers alone to do, but remember they are also responsible for putting the room back together!  If you still hear exclamations of boredom from your child, fight the urge to respond. Your child must learn to value his or her time alone and learn to be alone. It’s not healthy for your child to be constantly entertained. Taking time alone to think, play, learn or discover independently is an essential life skill. Most importantly, parents, don’t forget to pick a room for yourselves and explain that you’re the queen of that room!

It’s easy for parents to lose sight of the importance of downtime. Working in a little free time or changing the kind of time you plan with your children this winter break will make a huge difference in the way you feel. Best of all, trading up with some of these activities really gets your children motivated to be creative and to become skilled at solving unexpected problems. The holiday break can be a blend of self-rejuvenation, family time and quiet time. Now, turn off the computer and go enjoy your holiday break!