“Oh no, my kids are home for 2 weeks and I have no idea what to do with them and all their energy!”  First…..breathe.  Second….prepare for fun instead of opting to park them in front of a screen.  Children can be destructive when cooped up without the opportunity to burn-off energy.  On the other hand,  kids thrive when they have structured activities that allow them to do so.  If we get snow, great…let them sled to wear themselves out.  If no snow, try some of these ideas.

Set up an indoor obstacle courseindoor-obstacle-course

Too cold to go outside?  Manage your time and children’s energy with an obstacle course!  It can be simple or complex, so use whatever resources you have.  Try this:

  • Crab walk through the kitchen (face up, on hands and feet)
  • Run 3 times around the dining room table
  • Crawl through the tunnel (make one with some chairs and a bed sheet or under the table)
  • Climb over the back of the couch
  • Belly-crawl under the coffee table
  • Run down the hall, touch the wall, bear crawl back (face down, on hands and feet)
  • Do a jumping –jack for each letter of your last name while yelling out each letter

Think this won’t work with your kids?  Tell them you are timing and videoing them.  It’s a game changer!  Then, offer “Who thinks they can make their own course?” and watch them go while you go pour a glass of….water.

Puddle stomp in Starkey Park puddle-jump

What if it’s 45 degrees and rainy?  For a kid, there is nothing like being outside with permission to get muddy.  Slap on your rain boots, expendable articles of clothing, and go on a puddle hunt.  Make sure to take a trash bag for clothes or to cover car seats afterwards, and just plan on baths when you get home.

Bikes work in the cold too

My kids love having their bikes out whenever possible so don’t pack them away.  The local rail trails are fairly well protected from the wind since they have those great high walls on each side.  Also consider packing up the bikes, grabbing a set of orange cones (available at Akard’s True Value and Dick’s), and heading to a church parking lot or public tennis court.  Pick the side of the building with the least wind (and traffic), and set up a course to ride through with your cones.  Make sure you wear your helmets.

Family Olympics

You have several days to be with your kids so develop a Family Olympics that has several events one day, or spread it out over the entire break.  Use some of the ideas above, create some of your own, and make it indoor and outdoor.  You can even get other kids and families involved.

Other Ideas

  • Most churches have a “big room” that could be a great place for kids to run around and blow off some steam. Get permission.
  • Local indoor climbing at  Hoosier Heights
  • Ice skating in Indy indyfueltank.com/carmeliceskadium.comthearcticzone.net
  • Bounce around at Monkey Joe’s or Sky Zone.

Christmas Break isn’t just a break from school, but a unique time where you can have a surge of wonderful family time.  With a little planning, patience, and perspective, your children will have the break they need from school, get plenty of exercise, and head back to school with more to talk about than any year before.  Afterwards, you may just find your house to be a little too quiet for you usual liking.