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We've all been there.
At first break is a wonderful time for your kids to rest. No more fighting to get them up at the alarm. No more attempting to shove cereal into the mouths of zombie-like, half-sleeping progeny.
It's wonderful for a few days. Then suddenly you start noticing things. First they forget a word...no big deal...but then it happens again. After a few more days they accidentally shout "five" when you make a joke about two plus two. And you can no longer deny it...
Your kid officially has a case of break brain.
Even though you do want to let them rest and recover during their break, there are still things that you can do to keep the mental cobwebs at bay without ruining their break.
This might be our family's favorite time of day.
We have an ungodly collection of board games. My oldest stepdaughter is a memory savant. I learned long ago (when she was 5 years old and solidly spanked me several times in a row) that you never play any kind of memory game with her for money. Any time we break out our Despicable Me Memory Game (if the little one is playing too) or a more dignified, adult memory game if it's just us "big people" (13 is big in this instance) she lights up because she knows she's about to kick all of our butts.
Our youngest is only 3, so she's a fan of more active games like Bounce Off or a toddler-friendly version of darts. Well, we pretend to do these for the toddler, but they end up being pretty competitive for the bigs as well.
As a former personal trainer, I'm a huge fan of obstacle courses (read: circuit training for toddlers/kids). You can use everyday household objects, throw in a few agility cones, a jump rope or two, or even one of these bad boys into the mix, and they'll happily run themselves into a nap-inducing stupor without ever realizing they're exercising.
For something a little lower-energy, try a scavenger hunt. You can hide some left-over stocking stuffers (or little candies or toys) in various places around the house and come up with some basic clues for your kids to find them.
In our experience, older kids do great with word scrambles (a present hidden in the dryer could be located with the clue "RWAM SLTHCO OG EERH"). For younger kids, you can snap a quick picture of the item's location (e.g. a picture of the cabinet in which the object is hidden) and print out the picture. Both of our girls went crazy for this and would happily have played for days if we hadn't run out of clues and/or lollipops.
As my kids can surely tell you, I'm a huge fan of printable worksheets. These can be super fun as well as *gasp* educational. You can get these at websites like Education.com or other similar sites, and they come in a staggering array of subjects, ability levels, and activities.
As an example, you can get into the spirit of the season with this fun winter themed crossword puzzle!
I know it's a lot easier to let your kids fester in a stupor of Netflix and pajamas, but it's actually quite fun to shove some mental stimulation into your kids' breaks.
Be creative and go with the flow. They won't necessarily like every idea, so don't force anything that isn't natural. However, when you do find something they find fun, be prepared to do it nineteen billion times in a row.
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
Stay Sane Mom gives support to the over-worked, under-slept, marker-stained, soul-hungry moms of the world, so they can be more than just "mom".
You just want to keep the house clean, have a happy marriage, raise functional kids, and still have a little left in the tank to be a real person as well.
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