Thursday, December 21, 2006

Entertaining the Kids during the Holidays

By Brandi M. Seals

It can be difficult to get through the holiday season without at least one of the kids throwing a temper tantrum while over at so-and-so's house. Face it; most young kids do not have the attention span to sit around at a relative's house for hours on end while the adults reminisce. They key to getting through the holidays without making a scene is to make sure that your child is entertained and fully rested.

I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining routines. If your child usually goes to bed at 8:30 pm, there is no way you can keep him out until 10 pm and not expect there to be problems. Sometimes bringing the kids along means leaving earlier than you want to, but trust me, it will be worth it. That way you get to spend quality time with your friends and family. You are not busy chasing a renegade toddler around the room.

While maintaining the child's nap and sleep schedule, it is also important to keep their feeding schedule. Ever notice how kids get really cranky when they are hungry? Avoid that by scheduling dinner and lunch the same as always. If someone else is hosting the get together and they have selected an alternate time, come prepared. Bring along a baggie of veggies that the kids can nibble on if they get hungry before the food is done. This will go a long way in avoiding any unwanted scenes.

Now that the child's schedules have been maintained, it is time to learn how to keep the kid entertained. Chances are you do not want to plop him down in the other room with a video since he would miss out on everything. Hold on to that video as a last resort if nothing else seems to work, but there a number of games you can try first. My two favorites are the quiet game and hide the penny.

The Quiet Game
If you are not familiar with the quiet game, chances are you did not go out much with your family as a small child. It was a staple at any family get together I ever went to. I used to love the quiet game. I was pretty good at it though I could never outlast the others.

The quiet game needs at least two players. If there are no other children at the event, you can play with your child or you can rework things so that it is a one-player game. The concept is simple; whoever can be quiet the longest wins. Any peeps end the game.

It is amazing that I never picked up on the fact that the sole purpose of this game was to get me to shut up. I think I was around 12 when I was like "hey, wait a minute..." Chances are your child will love the quiet game as much as I did. When I would inadvertently say something I always begged to start playing again. The quiet game is a classic stand by.

Hide the Penny
Keep your child's mind preoccupied with a hide and seek sort of game. My family always used a penny because there were plenty on hand. Feel free to use some other object. With hide the penny, it is one person's responsibility to hide the penny anywhere he or she wants. Then whoever else is playing must find the penny. The person who hid it must give hot and cold cues until the penny is found. Then whoever found it gets to hide it.

Mama's Little Helper
If your child is not in the mood for games or there is no one available to play with him, get him to help out. If your child is young enough, helping seems like fun. You can cut up veggies for the veggie platter and allow junior to arrange them on the tray. There are numerous tasks that your children can do. Let them stir something you are making. Have them grab things from the pantry. As long as your child feels involved, chances are he will be entertained and well-behaved.

Best of luck to all of you out there with little ones. The holiday season does not have to be as hectic as some people make it out to be. Keep your child's limitations in mind (like how long he can sit around being quite and perfectly behaved) and never hesitate to accommodate your child's schedule and needs.

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