The days get shorter, the twinkling lights go up, and suddenly millions of work-at- home parents realize they have no plan at all for handling their pre-teen kids over the holidays. If you are one of the many working entrepreneurs without an office and nanny to call your own, you may find the following tips will help you and your children enjoy a wonderful end to the year.
1. Plan and prepare a creative activity for each day of the break including weekends.
It really doesn’t take long to fill ten shoe boxes with the elements of ten craft projects for children ages 3-10. Glitter and glue are great for dressing up plastic ornaments. Construction paper, tape, and safety scissors let you make yards of paper chain. Almost every child enjoys making and sending a holiday card to friends. After kids are up in the morning, set up a space where they can safely work on their craft projects, and you’ll be able to get on with the work of the day. Wrap your craft boxes in colorful paper to make every day feel like Christmas.
2. Gather up some easy recipes that your children can cook with minimal supervision.
Two slices of bread, their favorite sandwich ingredients, and some tin cookie cutters will let kids have the stars and moon for lunch. Give them tube frosting to decorate cookies and cupcakes. Encourage them to create treat boxes they can give to their friends. Holiday favorites like spiced cider and non-alcoholic eggnog are easy enough for older kids to make.
Your kitchen will be a bit of a mess after their work is done, and you will have to step in to help from time to time, but the hours your kids spend eating their creations will be a great time to get work done.
3. Introduce your children to the holiday classics they’ve never seen.
Most adults can remember the joy of watching The Grinch that Stole Christmas during the holidays, but it’s surprising how few children have seen the original animated feature. The Nightmare Before Christmas is something older kids usually love right along with Miracle on 34th Street.
It’s fun to sit with your kids as they watch films you love. You can look at your computer screen while they watch the movie magic on TV.
4. Plan daily outings around shopping and outdoor activities.
Like the rest of us, kids need to get out of the house. If you take kids out for an hour to buy groceries for a holiday meal or pick up gifts for the family, when they come home, they are usually more than ready to spend a little time on their own.
If you take kids to the park for a couple of hours of playtime, you have a little quiet time to make phone calls and they come home happy and ready for a nap.
5. Trade some childcare time with other parents.
If you know other work-at-home parents, or other parents who have taken time off work to stay home with their kids for the holidays, trade playdates so each of you has some time alone. You will find caring for one or two extra children while doing something fun is no trouble at all, especially if it buys you three or four hours when you can fully focus on your work.
The best gift a working parent can give their kids for the holidays is the planning required to fill them with a few happy moments every day. It’s also the best gift they can give themselves