Thursday, 13 December 2012

10 CHEAP, screen-free things to do at home these holidays

Many of you would now know that I'm not a fan of kids sitting in front of a screen, of any sort, for any great lengths of time. I'm not entirely anti-screen and my kids actually start most of their days watching some tv or playing on the computer. And, for their own survival, I have many times dumped them in front of a movie or two in the middle of the day so that I can quietly rock in the corner with a glass of wine. I am committed to limiting their screen time though and so have a number of activities at hand in the holidays to help keep them occupied when the screens are off. I find it easier to have an arsenal ready to fire at them when I am under attack from the "I'm bored!" cannon.

Get Ballsy
Pick a ball, any ball, and send them outside to play with it. Play soccer, football, netball, basketball, handball, lawn bowls, totem tennis, ten pin bowling in your driveway or marbles. There's something for every kid to do with a ball. If it's just you and your little one, get out there with them. 

DIY Christmas Tree
We do this one every year and it takes up lots of time. Tick!
1. Search for appropriate 'trees'. We live in a suburb with mature street trees so we often find these on our footpath but if you have a nearby park, why not go for a walk and see what you can find. The boys have become quite picky and know the best options are ones with lots of branches.
2. Paint your tree. I have a whole selection of bright coloured tubes of paint that I've accumulated from Cheap as Chips over the years. They're about $2 per tube and I recommend having a few in your 'craft box' all the time. This year the boys have chosen orange and gold as their colours.

3. Make the decorations. I save the fronts of each year's Christmas cards that the kids cut out the pictures of to put on their trees. We also make garlands out of left over wrapping paper which I measure and rule up and the boys cut 
them out and put them together.

4. Make a tree stand. I have a collection of old bottles which the boys fill up with sand [to weigh it down] and voila - perfect tree stand. Sometimes they decorate these too with ribbon etc. Depends on their mood.

Kill two birds with one stone here... lunch/snacks AND an activity. One time you could make your own pizzas. Have your kids help you set out the ingredients. We've done this many times now so the boys know that we use a packet of mini-pitta breads, a couple of pizza sauce sachets, a bowl of grated mozzarella, ham, salami and capsicum. Pop them in a pre-heated oven and you're done. We also like to do cupcakes together, gingerbread people/aliens and plain old cheese and fruit platter that the boys wash and cut up themselves. 

DIY Christmas decorations
I love this activity. It's quiet. It takes ages. It's extremely cheap. It's excellent for fine motor skills.
1. Get yourself to IKEA and pick up a tub of their coloured plastic beads and a set of their bead plates [the whole lot will cost you less than $15].
2. Think up some nice 'Christmasy' designs and help your little ones by starting the pattern for them.
3. Sit back and have a coffee while they finish off their decorations.

Colouring Pages
This may seem like an obvious one but you'd be surprised how many people forget to bring this one out [especially for boys] I like to get new stock [including books and textas/crayons] at the beginning of every holiday which my boys really appreciate too. We choose the pages they want to do together and I find that if I'm part of the selection process etc, they're far more interested in doing it than if I just set them on their way.

Art School
My kids LOVE this one and we have been doing it from a very young age. Get yourself some large format paper. If you're really stuck, grab a roll of paper from Ikea and cut into suitable lengths. Squirt some of those bright paints I mentioned earlier onto plastic plates and lay out a couple of brushes and some jars of water to rinse with. Our favourite way to do this is to peg up a whole lot of sheets along the fence, but it would be just as much fun on an easel or laid out on the ground or table. I like to give them topics to paint to help stimulate their creative juices. If they're really little you could paint their hands and feet and get them to stamp the paper to make some gorgeous keepsakes.

Waterbomb wars
A packet of these rippers cost about $3. Fill them up, but not too much otherwise they burst too easily and the game's over in no time. I then send the boys outside with a big basket of them of each and the rules are that they are allowed to throw them at each others' FEET as they're running around trying to evade the bombs. This is a big WINNER and lots of summer fun.

Caine's Arcade
I was inspired to introduce this idea to my boys after seeing this video. It's a fantastic activity to get them thinking and it will cost nothing but some old boxes and a couple of rolls of sticky tape. The best part is that after making the game, they want to play it too! More time for coffee and a magazine.

Quiet inside time
I bet you have books, board games, card games, puzzles, lego which you and your kids have probably forgotten about. Sometimes we're all activitied out and just need some quiet time inside. I like to pull out one of these either to  share or for them to do on their own ['cause they get sick of each other and   need space too] It's great when the weather is no good or if they haven't been feeling very well.

Let's play house
This one is my all-time FAVOURITE. My boys are still young enough to not absolutely despise household chores [not long now though]. I get them to help me out and make it like a game. Who can sort the washing into piles the quickest? Who can make their bed the neatest? Who wants to use the vacuum cleaner? Who can make the biggest pile of weeds from the garden? Who can make the best cafe latte? 

Well... baby steps ;)

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