Author: Carrie Myers
Kids are home for the holiday! Now…what to do with them?
Here are a few ideas to keep your kids busy, off the screens—and out of the overwhelming, headache-producing lights and noises pizza joint—that won’t break the bank.
Visit Local Museums and Aquariums
Many times, children’s museums and aquariums will have specials during vacation weeks. If there are no children’s museums near you, depending on the age of your kids, they might enjoy a trip to your local historical society. Or try your local fish hatchery.
Sure, it’s a break from school, but that doesn’t mean the learning needs to stop.
Local companies might even have tour times (save the brewery and winery for a girlfriend or significant-other outing!). For example, we love going on Ben and Jerry’s factory tour, which includes the ice cream tasting room. It’s a moooovelous time!
Do a Kid Swap
Get your girlfriends together and have each of you choose a day to host the kids at your respective homes. This gives the kids playtime and gives moms a little break—well, except for the day you take all the kids.
Go on a Treasure Hunt
Have you tried geocaching? It’s a worldwide treasure hunt and a fun way to get everyone outside. Find caches near you—no matter where you are—and use the app to navigate to the cache. A lot of caches let you trade knickknacks (if you take one, please leave one), and sign a little book. Get the Geocaching app to get started.
You can also make your own nature treasure hunt. Ashley did this for her daughter’s birthday, and the kids loved it! Create a list of nature items—a maple leaf, a pinecone, a piece of birch bark, etc—give each child a small bag (or have one bag for the group), and have them find the items on the list. To take it to the next level, have them use the items in an arts and crafts project.
Visit the Nursing Home or Assisted Living Center
A lot of our senior citizens don’t have family living near them, and they love visits from kids. Call the center ahead of time to ask if they have any rules for visitors. Also, ask if they have an activity time that you and your kids could assist with or participate in - or ask the activities director at the center if you and your kids could lead an activity for the seniors. You could also have your kids do an arts and crafts project at home they could give out to the seniors that would give their room a little decoration No matter which direction you go, the seniors will appreciate any time you give to them.
Have a Picnic
Sometimes mealtime can feel so…redundant. Break up the monotony with a picnic. Have the kids help put your picnic together, get your picnic blanket out, and choose a spot—your yard or local park can be great options. Or take the picnic to grandparents and share the love. Do the nature treasure hunt after your picnic and make a day of it.
If the weather isn’t conducive to an outdoor picnic, turn your living room into a park. Spread the blanket out in the middle of the room and have a picnic party!
Become Friends with Your Local Farmer
I had the privilege of growing up just four miles from my grandparents’ farm. And let me tell you—you haven’t lived until you’ve walked in warm cow manure in your bare feet! Unfortunately, a lot of kids today have no idea what a farm even is, let alone where their food comes from. Farmers are busy, but many will take the time to show you around their farms. Be sure to call ahead, and if you get to visit, have the kids write a thank-you note that includes what they learned.
Take a Hike
Ashley and I each live in areas that thrive on outdoor adventures that include plenty of hiking trails. It’s important to pack a backpack with snacks, water, an extra sweatshirt for each hiker, a small first-aid kit, bug spray, and sunscreen. If you don’t have trails in your area—or hiking isn’t really your thing—take a hike around your neighborhood park.
Hopefully, this list gets your creative juices flowing with ideas to keep the kids busy that don’t cost a lot. This is really just the beginning, though.
Check out your surrounding towns’ websites for more ideas. Some towns or local gyms offer kids’ day camps during school breaks, which is awesome for parents who can’t get the time off from work. A responsible teenager or a grandparent can also be valuable help—and might appreciate this list of ideas, too.