Guest Author - Terrie Andrade
Spring break, Easter vacation or whatever your child’s school observes, consists of five full days of no classes… begging to be filled with activities and/or projects to keep young minds occupied. Contemplating that entire week at home with the children can strike panic in the heart of the most seasoned stepmother.
This year as gas prices soar and the cost of a movie and popcorn is outrageous, moms on a budget need ideas that will help prevent boredom and still go easy on the pocketbook. It’s easy to overlook some of the simpler ones when the media is bombarding us with expensive amusement promotions.I’m hoping the following suggestions will start some of your own creative juices flowing.
Themed parties, movie marathons, a sleep-over and arts and craft get-togethers will entertain the young and older child as you make adjustments and add age-appropriate functions. Preplanned themes or impromptu ideas can work equally as well as long as you are prepared. A good approach is to include two interactive activities. Start with something creative such as an art or construction project. How about baking or planting? Then add a physical activity…like dancing, bike riding, swimming or other outdoor sport. Our family has spent hours playing X-Box Kinect games like bowling and river rafting. Sometimes the teams are the adults vs. kids and sometimes we mix it up. Often the parents opt for the cheerleading job! But the emphasis is always on fun and teamwork and not on winning or losing. Games like charades and Pictionary are always popular. Try video recording and replaying the action. It will become an event of its own. If you have a large circle of friends an ideal arrangement would be for several families to collaborate and each plan and host a one day event. This will minimize the parental workload and maximize the variety for the kids.
Where there are kids, there must be food. Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, pizza and popcorn are guaranteed hits. If one of your planned activities involves cooking, have the kids create their own personal pizzas or decorate prepared cupcakes. You can provide a variety of interesting items without spending a lot of money and you can assure they are healthy offerings.
Consider nature hikes using hand drawn maps, scavenger hunts in your immediate neighborhood, stargazing and telling scary stories around a campfire with marshmallows. These are fun things that also present an opportunity for learning. Younger children love tea parties or pirate picnics. Boys and girls will enjoy making hand puppets and showcasing them in a theater made with towels and an empty box. Challenge those little imaginations with developing the story and the characters that will star in it.
The tradition of decorating Easter eggs has come a long way. Store-bought kits are easier and less messy than they used to be but amazing colors, patterns and textures can be created with melted crayons, paper mache’ or glitter. Baskets to hold these originals can be fashioned from berry containers and recycled cardboard and plastic packaging. Adorn them with natural elements like sticks, acorns and leaves or use cast-off costume jewelry pieces applied with a glue gun by a supervising adult. Handles can be licorice ropes.
As you plan the activities your children will enjoy this holiday week, do not forget the impact of a volunteer project. You could decide to improve a neighborhood by picking up trash and recycling the bottles and cans for a charitable cause. Visiting a nursing home with handmade greeting cards for the residents would brighten their day. Lessons in giving entice young people toward community service and bettering the lives of the less fortunate. You just may start a new family tradition!
I wish you and your family a meaningful and memorable week and sincerely hope it brings an opportunity to further bond your relationship with your stepchildren.