Surviving the Post-Christmas Crazies

Thursday December 23, 2010
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One of the songs I’ve enjoyed hearing this season is “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” And I’d chuckle every time I’d hear the the line  “… And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”

Until now.  Today is the first day of Christmas winter break and I’m looking at 11 straight days of keeping the kids occupied.  I want to enjoy this time with them, but without a plan, it gets real ugly, real fast.

So… with that in mind, here are some activities I’m thinking of doing to maintain sanity, peace, and joy in our household:

DAYTIME FUN:

Visit the Library
I always forget about this — our local libraries are great!

Arts & Crafts
Ugh, I hate the mess these make, but I can commit to one day of crafty fun.  Here are two sites with great ideas: Skip to My Lou’s list of “Mom, I’m Bored” Activities, and Family Fun’s Christmas Craft Collection.

Cook with Kids
Again, this is a major undertaking (IMO) that I have to gear up to do.  But, if I go in with a plan, it can be a lot of fun and the kids love.   Let them plan the menu, shop (if necessary), prepare the meal (with help, of course), and most importantly, CLEAN UP (don’t let them off the hook — let the learn the clean-up is an important part of the effort).

Write Thank You Notes
Since we have to get these done, might as well sit down and knock’m out quick.   I found some cute ideas for creative thank yous here .

My first grader is old enough to write her own notes.  We will decide together what the text will be, then I will write it out on scrap paper and she can copy it onto the note.

For my kindergartner, we will decide together the text, then I will print it out on a kid friendly font that he can trace and copy onto the car.  This page has good fonts to choose from — I like  “Print Clearly – Dashed”.

My not-quite-3 year old will only have to “decorate” his card with art, stickers or scribbles.  I will write the note for him.

Go Swimming
We had a great time at Cub Run for my daughter’s 7th birthday party, it might be fun to go back one day this week for a change of pace.

Visit Play Areas at the Mall
Our favorite is Tysons Corner.  These are sure to be mobbed during this week, especially with all the holiday returns going on.  The key is to get there early and get out when it gets too crazy!

Visit the Aviation Museum (College Park, MD)
We got tickets, thanks to a great deal on Mamapedia, so we will likely hit this one day.

Visit Local Museums (DC)
I always seem to forget about the fabulous FREE museums right in our own backyard.   I’d like to visit at least one or two over the break.  Contenders (for us) include:  Air & Space, Botanic Gardens, American History, Natural History, and maybe even an art museum, like the National Portrait Gallery.  The National Building Museum is another great option, but now that my oldest (7) is too old for the kids play room, I’m not sure this works as well for us.

We could even try outdoor ice skating by the National Gallery, but I think the weather, plus the incompetence of my 3 would-be skaters makes this unlikely.

National Christmas Tree & Pathway of Peace (D.C.)
I haven’t done this in years, but always think I would like to take the kids down to see the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace.  However, in all honesty, if the weather remains this cold, we’ll probably skip it again.

Visit Baltimore
I’ve been jonsing to get up to Baltimore and see either the National Aquarium or the Maryland Science Center for a long while.   It’s not a trip I feel up to handling solo, so I’m hoping I can convince Mike to take the kids and me on the one day he’s agreed to take off work.

These activities won’t help stem the daytime chaos, but will be fun to do when Daddy gets home from work.

EVENING ACTIVITIES

Zoolights (National Zoo, DC)
We’ve never done the Zoo Lights because in the past, it has always costs money and required tickets in advance.  This year, it costs $8 to park (for FONZ members) but is otherwise free.   I think we will try and go one night — it is open 6-8:30pm nightly, except for 12/24, 12/25, and 12/31.

Neighborhood Lights
We might just pack the kids in the car in their Christmas jammies and drive around the neighborhood looking for the best Christmas lights.  If you want a list, check out Holly’s Tacky Christmas Lights to find the top (amateur) attractions in Northern Va.

Festival of Lights (Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, VA)
Although this costs $, we usually do this once after Christmas.  It’s fun to drive through and see all the displays.

Frugal Friends in VA did a great write-up of holiday light displays.  Visit their page for more ideas.

So, what will you be doing to maintain sanity of the holiday break?

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