For many people, holiday time means taking their kids to non-kid-friendly homes or having kids come to their non-kid-friendly homes. For either party, it’s a tough time if you aren’t prepared. Kids, unlike their older counterparts, do not understand that if they are bored, they should find some quiet non-destructive activity to pass the time. Kids WILL find something to do if they aren’t given someway to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, their solution might not be something YOU find entertaining.
Do yourself a favor and spend a bit of time preparing for your visitors. You will be well rewarded by happier kids and a less stressful visit.
- To prepare your house for toddlers, get down on your hands and knees and go around your house. Any door, drawer or plug within easy reach will be the visiting 2-year-old’s adventureland. Also, remember that kids under 3-years-old like to put everything in their mouths. If you don’t want to invest in kid proof appliances, then tie shut cupboards or take out anything that is dangerous or you don’t want broken.
- As always, your local thrift shop, Freecycle, and Craigslist will be your best friend in finding age-appropriate used toys and games for cheap.
- If you live in a cold weather area and your guests are coming from a southern climate, see about borrowing size-appropriate clothing for your visitors. It is quite expensive to buy boots, jackets, gloves, hats, etc for your entire family for a few day visit to snow country. Letting your company know that you will have these items on hand for them when they arrive will be a big financial relief.
Beyond your home, here are places and activities that entertain across genders and ages:
- Go to a museum, beach, playground, park or zoo. Be sure to check for free days and holiday promotions.
- Miniature golf or bowling always go over well with my family. Coupons are often available online or by signing up for the attraction’s email list. Call ahead and ask.
- If you are going to go out to eat, check for restaurants where kids eat free.
- Blow bubbles or build snowmen depending on weather.
- Play a friendly game of kickball – note the word “friendly.”
- Hoola hoops, jump ropes and jacks – my kids have always been better than me at these, but I keep trying.
- Puzzles – have the younger kids sort by colors or have two tables with different difficulties of puzzles.
- Apples to Apples – a fun game that young and old can play together. Will be hard for the under 5 year old, but above that you can help them with the reading if necessary.
- Bake cookies and decorate them together.
- Make a craft project. A hand print sweat shirt is a nice reminder of a great day.
- Pull out the old photo albums and reminisce.
Please DON’T take a 2-year-old to Disneyland. It is a waste of money and way too stressful for everyone. The local farmer’s market or pick your own fruit stand will be just as good, cheaper and more fun.
Use the internet to find free or discounted age appropriate adventures:
- Nickelodeon’s Parent Connect
- Yelp.com will help you out if you search for Kid Activities in your city.
- You can also use any search engine and search “kid activities”+”name of your town.”
- Most newspapers in even the tiniest town now have websites and list local activities.
Above all, remember that these people are your invited guests and the point is to have fun. Have some – after you put away the breakables.