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gingerbread houseAre you one of those parents who is excited that your kids will be home from school for two weeks — or more — over the holiday break? Are you looking forward to shared activities and quality time spent together? Or are you worried that there won’t be anything to keep your kids occupied and they will end up sitting in front of various screens and ignoring you?

The internet is full of projects you can do with your kids — or that you can use to keep your kids occupied while you take care of other tasks. Here’s a list of 5 to get you started.

1.  Holiday Baking

Enlist your children to help you with the long list of baking you need to do for the office, for neighborhood parties, to take to Grandma’s house on Christmas Day. Assign tasks based on your child’s motor skills and ability to follow instructions. If you’re lucky, at least one of your kids will be a budding baker and find this the most exciting part of their break. If not, at least they will be happy to lick the icing off the spoon and eat the broken pieces of cookies.

2. Cleaning

It’s not easy to get kids excited about cleaning, but if you have guests coming to stay with you for the holidays, involve your kids in the process of preparing the house. You can make it a game or a point of pride that they can show off their good work once Aunt Emily or Grandpa arrive. It’s also a great way to build anticipation so that your kids are actually looking forward to guests instead of resenting them.

3. Homemade Decorations

A quick internet search or stroll through the library will give you dozens of projects your kids can do with craft paper, glue, and, yes, glitter. Invest in a few supplies, print out some instructions, and let them be creative. Paper garlands, snowflakes for the windows, and pipe cleaner ornaments are things we all learned to make in school. You can also find instructions for decorations and crafts for Kwaanza, New Year’s, Hanukkah and any other seasonal decor your family would enjoy.

4. Game Time

No, we don’t mean gathering around the Xbox, though that may have it’s place. Designate time for pulling out traditional board games, card games, and even old chestnuts like charades. It’s a great way to actually interact with each other, instead of with a screen, and a way to share your favorite childhood pastimes with the next generation.

5. Volunteering

family around treeConsider having at least one project over the holidays that involves volunteering. This could be as simple as putting together a donation box for a holiday food drive or gathering clothing to give away. You may also consider adopting a family or individual from an Angel tree and working together as a family to choose and wrap presents. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter, church event, or even visit a nursing home or hospital to share some holiday cheer.

The opportunities for family time are virtually endless during the upcoming holiday break. Take advantage of as many as your schedule will allow. Childhood is brief, but it doesn’t take much to build lasting memories together.

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