Staying Sane: Easy things to do with your kids during the Holidays


OK, it’s Sunday. I usually post a “Staying Sane” piece but this week I’m going to cheat and “borrow” someone else’s terrific idea and add to it. I came across this blog entry and shared it on the Mama In Motion Facebook page. But I think it’s worthy of posting here as well – since we have 2 weeks to go until Christmas, and tensions at this point may be running high for you as a working mother. We all can use any ideas to help stay sane.

Try to take it easy on yourself. Outsource the shopping to your computer and/or Amazon. Do your cards through USPS and they can put them in envelops and stamp and send them for you. If you are like me, we try too hard to do everything for everybody; BUT, I don’t think we need to put pressures on ourselves to be super-women when it comes to providing a good, memorable experience for our children.

I saw the below list (Source: http://www.domesticsimplicity.com; http://wp.me/pfg42-N) and so much resonated with me — there a lots of fun things to do with the kids that aren’t huge projects but could create memorable traditions. Take a look and maybe you’ll see something new; I’ve added my thoughts at the bottom. Add yours too!

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Source: http://www.domesticsimplicity.com; http://wp.me/pfg42-N

50 Things To Do With Kids in December:

  1. Go out and look at Christmas lights
  2. Bake cookies
  3. Pick out and put up the Christmas Tree
  4. Decorate the Christmas Tree
  5. Make an Ice Wreath
  6. Make Cinnamon Applesauce and/or Salt Dough ornaments
  7. Make and decorate gingerbread houses
  8. Sing Christmas Songs
  9. Visit Santa
  10. Buy and donate toys for Toys For Tots
  11. Help to wrap presents for friends and family
  12. Act out the Christmas story
  13. Make Reindeer Food
  14. Make homemade Christmas color/glitter play dough (and scent it with peppermint) to give to friends
  15. Make and decorate gingerbread people
  16. Make popcorn and cranberry garland
  17. Go on a sleigh ride
  18. Make paper chains for the Christmas tree
  19. Write a letter to Santa
  20. Watch a holiday movie
  21. Check out holiday books at the library
  22. Leave out shoes for St. Nicholas
  23. Eat Candy Canes
  24. Hang stockings on the mantle or banister
  25. Put out the Nativity Scene
  26. Address and Mail holiday cards
  27. Pick a special family ornament for the year
  28. Make a special plate for Santa’s cookies and the reindeer’s carrots
  29. Go to see The Nutcracker
  30. Go to a holiday parade
  31. Go to a candy store for a holiday treat
  32. Tie bells with ribbons and hang them around the house
  33. Make cards and gifts for teachers
  34. Go to the dollar store and pick gifts for family
  35. Make special cards to send to cousins
  36. Have a Random Acts of Kindness Day(s)
  37. Make cards to send to troops or to bring to a nursing home
  38. Grocery shop just to take to a food bank or donation boxes
  39. Learn a Christmas song on the guitar or piano
  40. Make a present for Santa
  41. Celebrate the Winter Solstice
  42. Make Winter Tea
  43. Make/Put out food for birds and squirrels
  44. Make orange and clove pomanders
  45. Look through favorite Christmas Cards from friends and family from years past
  46. Start a garland or photo album with your own family holiday cards from years past
  47. Prep and freeze a special breakfast for Christmas morning
  48. Make hot chocolate balls
  49. Make snow globes
  50. Do research on holiday traditions around the world and choose one to add to family traditions

Mama K’s additions:

51. Have the kids draw a picture for Santa to leave out on Christmas Eve

52. Have the kids dress in red and/or green on several days leading up to Christmas

53. Make Christmas socks (simpler than shirts) — white socks with red and green dye; who cares what they’ll look like, the kids will probably love them anyway

54. Have your kids draw the present they would like Santa to bring to them

55. Have your kids make cards for their teachers

56. Make home-made hot chocolate and put a candy-cane on the top for them

57. Get red and green ice-cream — strawberry or vanilla (and add food colooring) and mint or vanilla with food coloring)

58. Go to a downtown area where you live and visit office building lobbies and look at their decorations

59. Go ice-skating

60. Get Santa hats and wear yours after work until they go to bed…. while cooking, eating dinner, helping them get ready for bed, etc

61. Get clown “red ball” noses and put them on so you all can be Rudolph; buy headband “antlers” and do the same…

62. Find a picture of you as a child sitting on Santa’s lap and see what kind of reaction you get

63. Get some string and some clips and have the kids help you string up the holiday cards you receive from others

64. Buy some jingle bells and have your kids wear them in their jean pocket

65. Dress up your pet

66. Use those big Amazon boxes and let your kids decorate them as Santa’s sleigh

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And what else can you think of to add to the list????

Staying Sane: Developing Traditions


I’ve been writing about Chocolate Tuesdays in my daily journals and I also recently wrote about a rainy weekend when I took the kids out for ice-cream. I received a request from a fellow Mama to spend some time writing on this subject and also getting feedback from our Mama In Motion community on traditions that they do with their families, no matter how big or how small. This really does help keep sanity. It helps to promote stability and respect and positions the family as a unit, versus individuals “at odds” with one another. And this is perfect timing….

Some of our day-to-day traditions:

  • I do “hugs and kisses in the morning” each and every morning with each of the kids. When Big Bro and Red were little babies, I used to make a song of it; but now at least its a round of hugs and kisses for each child and a big “good morning” for each of them.
  • I also play a “love” game with the kids – I try to do daily with Big Bro and REd, and would like to start it with the Twins now too since their old enough to get it. It goes like this: Me: “Did I tell you yet today how much I love you?!?!?”. Kid: “No” (or sometimes they say yes mommy…”. Me: “I love you so much that I am going to [kiss your ear], [pull your toe], [squeeze your nose], [mess up your hair], [tickle your belly] etc. etc. etc. And then as I do these things I say “THAT’s how much I love you, I love you, I love you so much…..”. It really is fun, because they know the game but don’t know how I’m going to express my love, whether its picking them up and spinning around, or chasing them, etc. They also do it back to me from time to time.
  • Each day and in relation to school/pre-school, I ask each kid to make sure that they 1) learn something new today; 2) exercise their bodies; and 3) laugh really hard about something. Then at the end of the day I ask them questions about what they did today to learn something new, exercise, and tell me a funny thing that made them laugh.
  • Chocolate Tuesdays – I found Nutella as another breakfast option that is really easy to put on bagels, toast, tortillas, etc. A good source of protein since it is made of hazelnut – and the kids love it because it really does taste like chocolately goodness. The problem was that they wanted it all the time. So we asked them to pick only ONE morning to have it – that day was a Tuesday so of course Big Bro suggested Tuesdays. So the tradition was borne.
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  • Movie Fridays – as a family we are a bit restrictive on the kids watching TV. Big Bro is the kind of kid that if he watches something in the day he will waste the day away (like me). So we have one night devoted to movies and popcorn: Friday nights. We love it as a family. Even the Twins now are getting into the popcorn even if they don’t have the attention span for the whole movie. I have lots of pictures of the four of them lined up on the couch eating popcorn and mesmerized by the movie – although this is fleeting and Red and the Twins tend to get bored and move on to other activities.
  • Saturday AM pancakes
  • Sunday AM waffles
  • Bathtime/ showertime is big in our house. We may not be able to do it as frequently as we would like, but all of the kids together is too much fun. The four kids used to bathe together in the one big HUGE tub in our room; now Big Bro takes a shower while the other 3 take a bath together. They LOVE it.
  • If the kids eat “two colors” at dinner, they get chocolate milk afterwards. I tell them that they have to listen to their body to know if they are full or not. I don’t force them to eat. But they must at least try two colors of food to get the milk at the other end.
  • Bigger traditions:

  • Christmas Eve: We make home-made pasta together. This is something my grandmother used to do whenever we would visit her, but I wanted to make it a tradition on Christmas eve. The thought is that we can make homemade linquinine or other shapes, and then diversify year by year with different sauces. It is hard work and takes time (even with a Kitchenaide mixer), but my thought is that as the kids get older, they will take over and with four of them they will be able to work together to get the job done faster, or at least switch off when they get tired.
  • Christmas eve: we also bake Chocolate Chip cookies during the day for Santa. We leave these out at night along with a cup of milk and carrots for the reindeer. We take baths and get into our chistmas pajamas, take pictures by the tree, and I have each of the kids draw a picture for Santa. It is the cutest thing to see each of them in their PJs busy at work, creating a special picture for Santa. In years past we’ve had pictures of airplanes, choo-choo trains, circles, and scribbles. I think it will be wonderful for them to have when they get older… so they get to see what meant so much to them when they were little and how they gifted their creativity to Santa each and every year while they believed.
  • Each year right before 9/11, we go to the store and buy gifts for the firefighters. We wrap them up and then on the day of 9/11 we visit the firestation and give them their gifts. Last year we got a crazy tour of the truck, they got to go inside the truck, and we all got a tour of the fire-house.
  • For Easter, the easter bunny not only gives them candy, but also TOOTHBRUSHES. The kids absolutely love getting them in their baskets.
  • We also do TOOTHBRUSHES in stocking stuffers at christmas time.
  • Things I’m thinking of:

  • With four kids, I’m thinking of having a poliana at Christmastime that the kids can do with each other.
  • Also with so many kids, I’m thinking of toning down Christmas (to one gift each) and spending the real celebration on their birthdays – which are more meaningful to me. The thought of celebrating a person’s life…. the fact that they are who they are…. and celebrating their uniqueness and what they mean to you, seems so much more worthy in my mind than the pile of presents at Christmastime for EACH child….
  • What are some of YOUR traditions? Big or small — share them all!!!!

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