Last Friday, at my son’s school Christmas party, I realized it was his last day of school until the new year! I don’t know how I messed that up, but for some reason I thought he had school until this Wednesday, like most other schools do.
With a toddler and a preschooler at home too, I knew I needed to come up with a plan and course of action for surviving Christmas break!
Perhaps you are also looking for a plan. Here is what worked for us.
1. Clean the house on the first day. What is better than having a clean house for the week of Christmas and New Year’s? It eliminates extra stress and just the smell of a clean house brings warmth to my soul.
My kids are 2, 4 and 6, so I didn’t go crazy for this step. We started out simple. Doing something they love. And cleaning something that makes a HUGE impact on the house, but I don’t get done often enough.
Have you guessed it yet?
Yep, we washed the kitchen floor!
We like to make this fun at our house. I started by having the kids move the table into the living room. At this point, they didn’t know what we were doing yet. Surprises can work for your good! They soon caught on to my plan, as I had them run down to the basement to get a pile of rag towels and a bucket.
Then I changed things up a bit.
As I said, we like to have fun – especially when it comes to work and chores! In an effort to minimize my own clean up and stress, I decided to allow them to do this task with nothing on but their underwear.
I don’t know what you think of me now, but hopefully I haven’t ruined this post! 😉
They LOVED it! I set some clear rules defining what they could do and could not do, and then we got to work. I let each of them dip their towel in the bucket of warm soapy water. And they started to scrub. And glide. And slide.
The house was filled with laughter and brilliant new ideas and teamwork on how to clean the floor and have fun with a wet towel.
Next, I gave them each a dry towel. This was just as much fun as the wet towel for them. It didn’t take long for them to figure out how to pull each other on the towel and give rides. They even pulled me into it. You should have seen their faces when I was pulling them all on the same towel and they were hanging on for dear life. The sparkle in their eyes said it all!
Afterwards, they needed to calm down of course, so I had planned a short twenty minute episode for them to watch, while I set all the furniture back in place and admired our hard work.
We then loaded up in the van and headed on to the next secret tip!
2. Visit your local public library. Look for story times, toddler times, or just go and visit the library. Here is a list of local Lancaster libraries. My two year old loves to move the soft little kids chairs around if he’s not looking at books. And children always love to bring a new book to read home with them. We ended up filling a bag of over two dozen books for us to read over the holiday break!
If you’re not normally one to venture to the library because you don’t think your kids can be quiet enough or behave well enough. . . here are my tips. Limit your time there. And set specific guidelines before you go in. Get them excited to find just three books. Let them carry their own books home too! This gives them ownership and responsibility.
My trips to the library are not always ideal, but on Monday, we went after we cleaned our floor and each of my kids picked out books and sat and looked at them quietly for almost 15 minutes. A 2, 4 and 6 year old!! While they were happily reading their books, I was able to find several kids books in the biography section like this one (my new favorite place to pick books, because I learn when I read them too!), and even audiobook for the next secret step.
3. Plan field trips. Kids love to get out and see new things, and its good for moms too! (Plus, it keeps your house clean if you’re not there all day.) Getting out of the house is good for everyone, not to mention having your kids strapped in a carseat can mean less work for you, especially if you have an active little two year old boy like I do.
Read your local newspaper, do Google searches on things to do in your area, find facebook groups and talk to other moms. We did the FREE Herr’s Snack Factory Tour on our second day of vacation. It was an hour drive there, an hour tour, and then on the way home we stopped for a little fun at a McDonald’s play area. By the time we were home it was naptime!
Plan ahead and use your travel time wisely. It makes a big difference in your kids behavior when they know you’ve given them attention on the way there. We started with a guessing game—they didn’t know until half way there where we were going! I explained what we would be doing and answered questions.
We listened to an audio book we got from the library, and on the way home, one of the Adventures in Odyssey audiobooks my kids got from their aunt for Christmas!
I found it helpful while we were on the tour to give the kids responsibility and make them feel important and needed. My son was the gentleman for the group, and always held the doors open for everyone as we walked from building to building! Reminding them that everyone got a FREE bag of chips at the end of the tour, helped them too.
These secrets have made a huge difference to the start of our vacation break and have definitely helped me to be able to choose joy more often than not. My sincerest hope is that these secrets will fill your hearts with inspiration and finding joy in your kids in these last few days of 2015!