keeping kids busy during winter break - baking soda and vinegar fun

Winter break can be rough. School-aged littles are used to a non-stop bombardment of stimulation and activities all day long. Everyone is amped up on sugar and gifts and excitement and somebody (usually you) has to entertain them all. Add in the bad weather factor and it’s enough to make a momma lose her mind.

In an effort to stamp out the loss of sanity of moms everywhere this holiday season, I thought I’d put together a little survival list—because if your kids are anything like mine, they want to know what wonderful, mind-blowing fun you have lined up for them next before they’ve even finished whatever it is they’re doing.

How to keep kids busy during winter break

Make a winter bucket list

Making a list of things that you want to do can be great in a lot of ways. First of all, if you’re anything like me, it will help you remember what fantastic idea you had been throwing around before you got distracted by something shiny—and it will make sure you can still do it before it’s too late.

If you’re someone who thrives on structure, bucket lists can also be good to help you schedule out your break. Filling your schedule with activities can make a potentially crazy week seem much more manageable if you know you have a family Christmas party on Monday, you’re going to go see the Christmas Spectacular on Wednesday, and you’re baking cookies with your neighbors on Thursday.

It can also be a lot of fun to hear what your kids want to do. My six-year-old, who can’t walk three feet without tripping over something (usually herself) really wants to go ice skating. So you know what? I’m going to make it my mission to take her—even if I have no fingernails left by the time we’re done.

Here’s our little winter bucket list:

  • Go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree
  • Bake lots of cookies
  • Build a snowman
  • Go ice skating
  • Give back in some way (donations, volunteering, whatever)
  • Have a family movie night (popcorn and hot chocolate are a must)
  • Make a gingerbread house

Craft Attack

My girl loves some crafts. And I think most kids do. She gets lost in them and sings to herself and just loves every second of it. I love it because it generally gives me a little bit of peace and lets me throw in laundry/get some work done/go to the bathroom/insert any other activity I have a hard time squeezing in with “What can I do next?!” following my every move.

I made a little list of some fun ones to make your life easier (and let’s be serious here, to make my life easier when I need one in a pinch!):

winter break activitiesShredded snowman
Expand on an image art
Snowmen fence
Graffiti gift wrap
Macaroni snowflakes
Paper plate menorah
Egg carton snowmen
Snow globe art project
Toilet paper tube crowns
Felt Christmas trees
Melting snowmen cookies
Science experiments

Have some things ready that they can do alone.

I work from home and momma needs to keep the Benjamins flowing in. So if I get a freelance project and it happens to fall during winter break, I have to take it. This means that there will be times during the day when I have to get a little computer work in. This also means that I can’t be the primary source of entertainment for my “What can I do next?! What can I do next?!” love. Girlfriend’s gonna have to entertain herself for a bit.

So what do you do? Last summer I put together a little boredom jar that was filled with ideas. Most of it was stuff that my daughter doesn’t do often (or maybe hasn’t done at all), but things I knew she’d like to do and was capable of doing on her own.

I made sure to include a mix of activities (crafty things like making jewelry, learning activities like finding out five facts about an animal, and chores—which she happens to love) in the hope that she’d be sure to find something that she liked the sound of. Other things my kids love:

  • Play-Doh: If I have the laptop on the dining room table and put out the Play-Doh stuff around me, the girls can play for a good hour making little cakes and pretending to cook me all sorts of foods. If you don’t have any on hand, this is my go-to Play-Doh recipe.
  • Spray bottles: Fill a spray bottle with water and give my six-year-old a rag (telling her to steer clear of electronics!) and she will pretend she’s Cinderella shining the castle. Give the toddler an empty spray bottle and she will follow her sister around making spraying sounds with her mouth and mimicking everything her little idol does.
  • Laundry: Give my ladies some laundry and ask them to sort or “fold” it and they might just explode with excitement.
  • Baking soda and vinegar concoctions: my kids love to watch the fizzy reaction when these two are mixed. I usually set them up with cookie trays, measuring cups, spoons, silicone cupcake liners, and anything else I can think of to keep them busy.

keeping kids busy during winter break - baking soda and vinegar fun

Cruise Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you get to a point where you feel like you’ve exhausted all options and you no longer have any brain cells left to be creative (I’m sometimes there by day two, with the What Next police all up on my back), hit up your social media networks. You’re bound to come across something you can do. Even if you think all of the ideas you’re seeing suck, those crappy ideas might give you an idea for something fabulous.

Be prepared.

Preparation is key, my friends. I’m not talking about anything big here. I’m talking about making sure you’ve got some supplies (paper, crayons, glue) in case you get snowed in with your wild animals and need to get creative in a pinch.

how to keep kids busy during winter break - a parent's survival guide

Need more ideas? Check out my new post on 50+ Indoor Activities for Kids!

What about you? What do you do during winter break to keep the wild things tamed?

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.