Winter Break and Kids

27 December 2023

Once the excitement of holiday gifts and parties has ebbed, you will still need to consider activities for your kids until school resumes.

Join them

If you are tired of harping about getting off devices, try to be a part of the action. Have them teach you about how their game works and why it is so interesting to them. Ask questions and be interactive. In turn, ask them to come help you prepare dinner, bake cookies, dance, or some other hobby. Have them pull up their favorite Tik-Tok or make their own. It can make memories for both of you.

The Finger Lakes area has a vast array of outdoor activities no matter the weather. There are hiking trails, skiing opportunities, and other adventures. Try something new like ice fishing or snow shoeing.

If they are readers, download the same book on your personal e-reader. Casually, over a meal, discuss the characters and what they are doing including what could be anticipated in the next chapters.


  • It will take a little work, but you can create a scavenger hunt. It can go two ways. You can create a list of things that you have hidden, sometimes in plain sight, that the children can gather. You can also create clues that sends the kids from one site to get another clue at another place. If you are really ambitious, create separate routes and clues for each child. The prize can be a coupon to choose the next movie you watch, or to decide on the next night’s entree, or whatever would be special in your family.
  • Menu night will also take a bit of work. Create a menu of items (that can either be prepared quickly or reheated) and have your children sit at your home table, as though it were a restaurant. You get to act as wait staff, take their orders, and remove the plates, asking if everything is all right. This could be a weekly tradition, as long as the kids are not grounded.
  • Experiment with photography either with your cell phone or an inexpensive camera. After you download a picture, use an editing program to see what you can create in an unexpected way.
  • Make ice lanterns by freezing water in a bucket. When it is thoroughly frozen take the ice out of the bucket, carve a hole almost to the bottom and put a candle or battery operated light. If you color the water, you can have a variety of lanterns at very little cost.
  • Pack up the crew and head to the craft store. There will be many items on sale so you can splurge on kits or supplies. Give them an upper limit on what they can spend and then the next day or so, you get to deal with the mess of crafting with, hopefully, lots of giggles in between.
  • Pretend that you are someone else for an hour, half a day, or all day. Keep in character and let the kids play along with you. Using imagination stimulates thoughts and creativity.
  • If there is snow, use it to your advantage. Make snow slime. There are recipes on line that will help. Try snow graffiti. Make some colors or pick up some snow markers and let the kids become the next Jackson Pollock.
  • Put together a time capsule. Whatever each child wants and put it in a box that may hold a memory. Then in six months, in the summer when they are bored, or next year, open it up and talk about why they put it in. Memories also trigger the brain to look at ordinary items differently.
  • Have an indoor picnic. Clear some of the furniture, put down a blanket or tablecloth, and enjoy some sandwiches, sides, dessert, and appropriate beverages. Then go outside and throw the Frisbee.
  • Remember our avian friends by making some birdseed cakes to put out during the rest if the winter.


No matter what you do, expect to hear some “I’m bored” comments. Take any victory where you find it, even if it is for only a short time period. Try to impress your kids that it is better to get their chores done first and then then can splurge on screen time. As a parent, it is difficult to be the task master and grinch, but it is all part of the job.

Gifts and Charity

If you have children, they probably got a bunch of new toys. This is a good opportunity to discuss clearing out some of the things they no longer play with and donate them to others. You might also look into their closets and dressers to see what else can go to the needy. Bring your children with you when you go to the donation center so that they get a sense of what it is to help someone else. For adults, clothing is always welcome at thrift stores or churches. Just keep in mind that if it is too tattered to wear, why would someone else want it.

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