Winter Break: How to Avoid a Breakdown

We’re in the holiday prep home stretch. As much as I advocate using the season of preparation to be contemplative, I, like most of us, am in a bit of a frenzy. I’ll bet lots of you have little time to read right now. And I have little time to write. So the next two weeks’ blogs will be short (and hopefully sweet).

Today’s musing: The kids put on a wonderful holiday assembly program last week and now they’re home: for TWO weeks. How does your family have a great winter break without parents or kids (or both) having a breakdown.

Break without Breakdown

My strategy: Mix it up.

Indoor Time

Holiday break is an opportunity to take a hiatus from early morning routine. Indoor activities can be done in PJs. Whoo hoo!

Some favorite indoor activities in my family:

  • Gift-making. First week of school-break. my kids were absorbed with making gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles. They made candles with paraffin wax and crayons, ornaments with gingerbread and colored sugar, potholders with cotton loops and metal looms. My girls bent over their work with knitted eyebrows, deeply absorbed in creating masterpieces. Gift-making time was focus time.
  • Board games. Does anyone know any activity that takes longer than a game of Monopoly?
  • Baking. For Hartfield family baking lore, see the “blue cookies” blog from two weeks ago.

Outdoor Time

Fresh air, large spaces to move around in…winter frost or not, bundle up if necessary, then let loose. In one of my favorite Christmas movies, Miracle on 34th Street, Santa sleeps with his whiskers outside the covers because, he says, “Cold air makes them grow.”

  • For those who live in snow country, there are snowmen, snowball fights, snow ice cream, snow angels, ice skating, ledding. When I was a kid, I spent a week of spirited teamwork building an igloo big enough to sleep in. Plenty of options to fill two weeks.
  • For those who live (or vacation) in warm sunshine…well…need I say more? Swimming pools, playgrounds, sports. To this (jealous) northerner it looks an awful lot like summer.

Down Time

Indoors, outdoors – lots of great possibilities. Every parent knows, though, kids get tired. And then they can rev up and spin out of control. In my house, the tell was laughter. Started as giggles, moved on to guffaws, and left unchecked, ended up with screams and rolling on the floor, tickles becoming pokes becoming jabs. For me, the key was to pull myself away from my own activities to redirect the girls at giggles stage.

  • Until they were five, there were regular mid-day naps.
  • As they grew, sleep time was replaced by quiet time – silent reading, mellow music tapes, a TV show.
  • As teens they were all about texting or watching memes.

End result? After a space of quiet, the hysterical giggles had evaporated. Order was restored.

Happy Holidays everyone! Or, as my kids would say, “Have a chill time.”

What does your family do to make winter break happy and healthy and just plain old fun.

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