"And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again." Johnny Mathis knew what he was singing about in "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" as kids home from school start declaring, "I'm bored!"
In the aftermath that follows unwrapping the presents and avoiding writing thank you notes, the kids turn to you to for entertainment. For the next few days, Tween Us is armed with suggestions to get you and your kids through winter break, and have fun together and with others. Fight the boredom!
Today's Idea: Throw a party!
Winter break means a few days away from their friends, but tweens are usually wanting to connect with their peers, discuss their holiday haul of gifts and just be silly. If you set certain parameters, tween gatherings at your house can be a nice break from the monotony, for everyone.
Here are some ideas:
- Kids into sports may want to host a bowl game watching party. Goodness knows there are a ton of bowl games on, so support your favorite team. Maybe do a 100 square pool and have sweets or small toys as prizes for the winners. Get a football shaped cookie cutter and use it to make football brownies.
- If your child is in the band, have a practice party with others who play their instruments. Or a jam session with people who play other instruments could be fun. I was dubious of this idea when I first heard it, but the practice party my daughter hosted over the summer was a success. I was pleasantly surprised by how much they actually played their instruments. We had fun doing items that started with the letter "p," including pizza, pretzels, pepper strips, pears, punch, etc.
- Make it literary. Have a book club gathering! Pick a shorter tween book (find suggestions here), or even one that they have read in class. Or, have a poetry party. Ask guests to pick out a favorite poem to read with others. Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are favorites for this age, and work for either gender. Do a theme with Jack Prelutsky's "A Pizza the Size of the Sun" and serve, you guessed it, pizza (or other "p" ideas listed above).
- Have a make your own pizza gathering. Tweens eat that up. Literally. Have the guests write silly haikus about what they've done over winter break, or about being bored. Find fun pizza facts here. Have your child make up a "pizza quiz" with them for guests, or have your kid write them out on construction paper and place around the house.
- My daughter is distraught by the lack of snow and wants to have a snow party. I've put her in charge of it. All of it. I have asked for lists of guests, activities, and refreshments she wishes to serve. She said there may be a pin the nose on the Frosty game, cutting out snowflakes, she's found some fun snowman cupcakes to make, who knows where she'll go with it. I found invitations and a snow craft half off at Target's post-holiday sale. I'm all about drawing this out to keep her as occupied as possible
You may be thinking that a party is a lot of work, and you may be right. It can be a lot of work, if you allow it to be. Don't. Refuse. Ask for help. Here are some ideas for simplifying:
- Don't be afraid to make whatever your gathering is a pot luck. The other parents will be thrilled to get their offspring off their hands. Thrilled, I tell you. Requesting that grateful parent to please send a snack or juice boxes is not an onerous request. Just clearly say, "Please have your child bring X."
- Child labor is your friend. Have the children get things together for the party. Put them in charge of any decorating that they would like to do. Remember, you're trying to keep them busy. You can have fun brainstorming about different projects they can do to make your place festive, but let them handle whatever execution doesn't require a parent. And please, have your child and their guests to help with the clean up from the party. They are more than capable of taking dishes to the sink, putting napkins in the trash or putting away toys or craft projects. Don't ask them to do it, tell them. Announce nicely but firmly that it is time to clean up and assign specific tasks to each guest. I'm amazed at people that think they can't ask their kids' friends to help clean up. You can, and you should.
- Keep it small. You don't need to have a lot of kids or spend hours combing Pinterest for ideas. If you have the time and energy left after the holidays, more power to you. If you're more like me and picking yourself off the pavement after being run over the holiday bus, it's okay to keep things low key. Your kids will be just fine with a more minimalist effort, and if they want to do more, by all means, let them. Encourage them. But don't do it all for them. Let them keep themselves busy with party efforts. And you should take a moment to enjoy the happy sounds of kids laughing
Other boredom fighting ideas:
Get even more fun ideas when you "like" the Tween Us Facebook page.