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Keeping the 'happy' instead of the 'hollering' in the holidays: Getting things 'done' with the kids
Darkness falls at 5:00 PM here in Minneapolis. Long, cold nights make us want to curl up under a down comforter with a good book or to simply fall asleep. But like the snow piling up outside, the “to do” list of the holidays dumps more on our schedules already filled to the brim. So how do you keep the “happy” instead of the “hollering” in the holidays? Let your children “help,” albeit with a degree of modification.
If you plan on baking, put your little one up on a sturdy stool at the sink. Fill the sink with a little water and suds, drop in a few non-breakables for them to wash and you have a budding sous chef. If you are uncomfortable with the stool, or don’t have one, cover the floor with a few plastic garbage bags duct taped together and use a washtub full of water. Be safe by picking up the plastic when they’re finished.
If you are making cookie dough, before you begin and while the children are napping, mix up a quick batch of play dough. Then while you’re making cookies you can put them to work with the play dough and a few cookie cutters of their own. Here’s the favorite recipe from Paidea:
- 5 cups flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 2 Pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid
- 2 cups boiling water *make sure it's boiling hot or it will fail
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Spoon the dough into a large Ziploc bag and knead until smooth and warm to touch.
- Do not try to double this recipe, it will fail. The play dough will keep in the fridge for quite a while.
- If you are wrapping gifts give them their own boxes, scraps of paper, child-safe scissors, tape and ribbon and let them go to it.
- Writing cards? Grab a few sheets of paper, stickers, markers and old envelopes for them to create their designs. Add a “mail bag” for delivering their creations and they’ll be engaged for hours.
- Need to clean? Little ones love a spray bottle with a little water in it, their own swifter, a whisk broom and dust pan, hand vac or even the real vacuum. Teach them now and when they can really be of assistance they’ll have the skills.
- The older your children the more they can participate in the actual baking and other activities. For the early reader turn the recipe into a “picture” card – 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt. You get the point. Encourage them to “write” part of your holiday letter. Stamps and address labels can easily be handled by a school-age child.
- Taking a little time to plan for how to engage your little ones will reduce your stress dramatically plus you’ll be teaching skills and creating traditions for a lifetime.