Would it not be nice to have a few spare moments of gentle peace and quiet, with the kids happily occupied, so you can get your chores done or simply sit down to sip your coffee while it’s still hot? Here’s a very handy list of tried & tested ways to keep the kids busy during the holidays! No screens required!
8 ways to keep kids busy during the holidays
1. Play board games
Surely you have a few boardgames laying around. OK, so technically this involves a second player (you, still sipping your coffee). Or find a friend or sibling who can play. It’s also a nice idea to exchange board games with friends. This renews interest into playing, and it’s ‘green’ (no more things to buy) and economical.
Some games even have a ‘single player’ variation. It’s worth exploring a few games for this option, for now and later! Find reviews and ideas here.
If you’re tired of your current games, you can always try these free games: print, cut and play!
2. Invent a board game!
My kids really love this. my son invents board games with different types of die (typically a combination of eyes and colours), while my daughter draws labyrinths with special rules (“Here you can jump” “No passing there!”). For older kids: ask them what could be better or handier in the house and let them explain or draw this. Perhaps, if their dreams and thoughts are not too elaborate, they could even attempt to make it!
3. Printables are your friend
They’re brilliant. And plenty. In fact, there’s almost too much choice: colouring sheets, masks, pen-and-paper games, labyrinths, activity books, .. The quality (and advertisements on them) differ though. Choose one of these to be on the safe side – I can vouch for them 😊🙃 – saving you heaps of time on Google and Pinterest!
4. Make a maze
Draw a maze and let your child solve it. They’ll be mesmerised by the simple fact that you can make one yourself.. Encourage them to make one themselves, for you to solve!
Here you’ll find instructions for making a maze. Or, if you’re lazy (or plain tired), you can print a few from here or you can use a maze generator. (Goodness, Wiki showed me a whole algorithm behind maze generation. I’m loving this paper (I think I can smell it), but I think the easy stuff is sufficient for now..)
Young children will just make something up, a simple shape and lines, but older kids can make more challenging and complex shapes. Of course it requires some logical thinking: is there actually a solution? Can you find shortcuts? Is there only one solution, or more?
Go a little wild if you dare, and make a maze on the floor! Or go outside and draw one using a crayon. ‘Wow’ factor guaranteed! Don’t make it too complex, just have a go. Before you know it the kids will copy the idea and have fun on their own.
5. Use your pile of LEGO in a different way
It’s such a great idea to use toys that are already in the house, and LEGO is a great example. It makes kids think outside the box, to use things in a different way. And a big plus: no extra toys in the house! There’s plenty already, don’t you think?
Pinterest has plenty of examples for using LEGO other than the traditional constructions. Here’s a local favourite: playing LEGO croquet!
6. Draw a floor plan
Let the kids make a floor plan. Start small by one room (for example, the living room or their bedroom), or one level of the house. This is an excellent way to train their spacial awareness. They can use freehand drawing (more or less to scale) or actually measure distances using ruling tape or by taking steps, for example. They also learn to draw items (furniture) into place, in matching scale.
7. Arrange a crafts space
You may have a dedicated corner or table to do crafts. If not, it’s worth the investment in time and money. I simply have 2 shelves of my bookcase dedicated to crafts supplies (quite a sacrifice, I know..). It has a number of boxes in it with different types of supplies, so my kids can find their way without my help. A box with stamps, one with crayons, with coloured paper, play dough, various bits ‘n bobs, you get the idea.
Invest in a few new supplies or techniques and show your kids how to use these. Window markers, making pompons, play dough .. By rearranging the supplies you already had, you spark new ideas and possibilities for the kids. Just place a bin, set them loose, close the door and enjoy that cuppa!
If you’re short of ideas and need inspiration, there’s always the artful parent, which I personally love (no affiliation).
8. Tis the season: bake cookies!
Cookies! A classic, a must-do. So… this would involve you for a bit, unless your kids are old enough to make their own dough. Still, it’s a small investment in time, while the kids will have fun baking for a while.
Fancy something special? Look for clean objects around the house with interesting surfaces to stamp onto the cookie dough. We tried LEGO stamped cookies and they were a hit!
No inspiration? No worries. Simply let the kids play. No rules except the normal ‘house rules’ (but no screens!). Don’t arrange anything, but let the kids think of something themselves. Simply let them play. I hardly ever set up something for play dates, as I feel it’s important that they should have some ‘time off’ and just muck about. They will find something to do, no worries.