Now that the holidays are officially on and there’s only so much screen time you would like to allow your children, a question must keep popping up “What the hell do we do next?” So, I figured I’d share a list of (scientifically approved) activities that are engaging, beneficial and basically effortless .
Apparently, the most important thing to do this Xmas, when presents are concerned, is to give yourself to your kids. Material gifts shift the attention from what’s really meaningful in our lives, and that’s the relationships we nurture both within and outside the family. So, spend time with your children. Do silly stuff. Do nice stuff. Do arty stuff. There is a whole world of non-tangible treasures you can give to your kids.
- Tell stories. It can be fairy tales, it can be true stories. Start with how you met the other parent in the most romantic of places/ways/circumstances. Or how dad was singing them Arsenal songs while they were still swimming leisurely in the amniotic fluid. Or how proud you were when, at the age of 2, they could do a 24-piece puzzle in just under 6 minutes. Tell them anecdotes, show them photos, ask them about their own memories.
- Make stuff. Immerse yourselves in art creation or crafting. Painting and crafts improve decision making abilities and help build self-esteem. Make your own art supplies. Bake together, write a story, try composing some music for fun.
- Go out for a walk around the neighbourhood, in a park or downtown to see the Xmas lights.
- Give them a massage. It’s a small gesture, but a lovely way to connect with your little ones. If your kid is ticklish, go for a nice, easy shoulder or arm massage instead of a foot massage. Just be careful and super gentle.
- Take photos together and then create a whole album of this season’s most memorable images.
- Read them a book while snuggled cosily under a blanket.
- Sing carols, use karaoke if necessary. The more off key, the greater the fun.
- Set up a puppet theater, use funny voices, talk to them through characters, make them laugh.
- Play games. From cards and board games, to exploring the rhythm of your kid’s favorite Xmas tune, to downright silliness, just play lots of games.
Give your kids an opportunity to play with other children as often as you can. Scientists say that unstructured, free play in age-mixed groups is an essential educational tool which builds and strengthens decision-making skills, impulse control and different soft skills vital for proper mental development.
Finally, whether it is just you, or with other kids, take your family outside, on a trip to the woods, or the mountains, or the lakes. Connecting with nature is crucial for overall growth and exploring the wilderness has been proved to make us smarter, healthier and happier. So, put on those hiking boots and get ready for adventure!