School children across the country anxiously anticipate winter break, but sometimes parents don't feel the same way. Cold weather, cabin fever, and the post-holiday hangover can make those few short weeks seem as if they're dragging on forever, but with these 12 ideas, you can actually keep everyone entertained — without losing your mind.
1. Break out the holiday gifts.
Now is the time to put those Christmas and Hanukkah presents to good use. Break in the new gaming system — even if it means extra screen time for a few days. Or put those pottery wheels and easy bake ovens to good use before they get tossed to the back of the closet forever.
2. Send them to camp.
Winter camps are offered through a variety of community organizations who know that parents still need to work — even when school is on hiatus.
3. Head to the YMCA.
The frigid temperatures of late December and early January might make you want to stay home where it's warm, but sometimes you've got to get out. Burn off energy by visiting your local YMCA and letting the kids swim, play basketball, or simply run in circles as fast as they can.
4. Plan a movie marathon.
Yes, it's more screen time, but sometimes everyone just needs to veg out and "lay like broccoli" (as Julia Roberts puts it in Pretty Woman). Choose a movie theme, pop some popcorn, and spend the day on the couch in your pajamas.
5. Conduct winter science experiments.
Kids love to play around with science, so try some of these winter science experiments together. The Frozen Bubbles are particularly cool.
6. Get physical.
It may be too cold to play outside, but you can still keep everybody active over winter vacation. Need ideas? Try these 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Active this Winter.
7. Spend quality time with family.
If you can get vacation time, winter break is a nice time to visit with family that lives out of state. If you can't, make plans to have your kids spend some extra time with family members who live nearby.
Teach your children to value giving back and helping others by volunteering in your community. Deliver meals to the elderly, organize a food drive for your local food bank, or encourage your kids to come up with some creative ideas of their own.
9. Feed the birds.
Food for the birds is scarce in the winter, so spend an afternoon making a variety of bird feeders and bird seed cookies to set out in your backyard — and then spend another afternoon admiring and identifying all the birds you attract.
10. Visit the library.
Whether you attend story hour, play educational computer games, or just choose a comfy chair and read, the local library offers many ways to keep kids entertained over winter vacation.
11. Play in the snow.
Obviously, this depends on the weather, but if you're lucky enough to see snowfall, bundle the kids up and send them out the door. Even better? Bundle yourself up and show them how a snowball fight is really done.
12. Explore your city.
Staycations are a popular part of summer vacation, so why not winter? Check out some of your city's favorite family-friendly attractions, or take a day trip to a nearby destination you've always wanted to visit.
How do you entertain your kids over winter break? If you're a working parent, where do they go?