"Mom, I’m Bored!"

Well, once again the holidays are here. And with time off from school comes the inevitable, "Mom, I’m bored!" from the kids. Let this holiday season be different. Beat them to the punch! Before they can whine about having nothing to do, schedule a few activities tailored to their age group.

Toddlers – Toddlers are hams. Encourage their creative side by video taping an interview with them. A personal favorite of mine is to ask the toddler to explain in detail how their favorite meal is prepared. This is particularly fun when the child is between the ages of three and five. Don’t interrupt. Encourage dramatics. Get him to show you exactly how Mom does it. Then, play it back for the child. This will keep him entertained for a long time, as toddlers love to look at themselves on TV.

Elementary School Age – Particularly if a group of kids will be together at a relative’s house, visit a local thrift store and purchase clothes and hats of a various styles and sizes. Encourage the children to put on a play. It can be about the family’s history, or a favorite fairy tale. Also, encourage them to re-write their favorite fairy tale or research a famous event in history and re-enact it. Have the kids put on their play after Christmas dinner for the entire family.

Pre-Teens – Introduce your pre-teens to the kitchen! Give them a recipe book for guidance, but encourage them to create their own masterpieces. Let them create their own "restaurant" complete with table cloth, menus, centerpieces, candles whatever strikes their fancy. Have them dress as chefs and servers. Make it fun and entertaining and you’ll be surprised at how helpful they’ll be. (You should volunteer to help with the clean up.)

Teens – What age group is more vain than teens? Again, make that trip to the thrift shop for costumes and props, and get out the video equipment. Encourage them to put on a big stage production. They must rehearse their dance steps, songs, poems, etc. Have a competition. Break the acts down into various categories such as song and dance, drama, comedy, etc. Again, encourage them to put on their show after Christmas dinner for the entire family to enjoy. Parents – you can even award ribbons and certificates to all participants.

Also for Teens – Most high schools require students to put in a certain amount of community service hours prior to graduation. Now is the time to check with the area nursing homes, pre-schools and hospitals to schedule volunteer hours.

At area hospitals, have teens check into whether or not there is a reading program. Many allow teens to come in and read stories to patients in the pediatric ward.

At nursing homes, visit with an elderly person. Help him/her to address her Christmas cards, or just take him for a ride in his wheelchair.

At pre-schools, see if they need help with the little ones at lunchtime. Many of the younger ones still require assistance with eating. Perhaps you can read to them right before nap time.

At church, talk with the pastor about collecting and distributing food and clothing to the needy. Volunteer to clean in and around the church.

In your neighborhood, offer to babysit a neighbor's kids so that they are able to go shopping or offer to wrap a neighbor's gifts.

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