British Columbia

Holiday parenting tips: Let kids be bored before classes resume

Keeping kids happy and busy can be a challenge, especially for parents who are already heading back to work.

Make thank you cards, send them outside and don’t over schedule them, says parenting expert

Send kids outside to play even if it's snowing, says parenting expert Kathy Lynn. (Clay Jackson/Associated Press)

Christmas is over, but school kids around the province still have a long winter break ahead of them with most classes not starting up again until Jan. 8.

Keeping kids happy and busy can be a challenge at this time of year, especially for parents who are already heading back to work.

Kathy Lynn, a parenting expert and author, said having plans and a strategy in place for the coming week makes all the difference.

The number one post-Christmas activity for children should be sending thank you cards for the presents they received, she told CBC guest host of B.C. Almanac Renee Filippone.

"I'm suggesting that it should be done by snail mail," she said.

Sit them down and get the younger ones to draw a picture or older children to write a note, Lynn suggested.

Let them be bored

Once thank yous are posted, then it can be play time, she recommended.

And if they are bored, let them figure out for themselves how to solve it.

"It is not our job to entertain and program and schedule our child every second of the day," she said. "Some of the most creative play and fun play happens after a period of boredom."

When a child complains of boredom, look at them and say 'So what are you going to do about it?' Lynn said.

Sometimes, that means being a bit more relaxed about mess — allowing them to turn the playroom into a forest of toys or camp out in the living room for a couple of days, for example.

"Become part of it and let them know that you think what they are developing is absolutely fabulous," she said. 

Untapped resources

For parents who are back at work, consider hiring a babysitter or a trusted teenager in the neighbourhood to look after the kids while you're out.

"The other untapped resource, and I'm one of them, is grandma," she said. "Grandparents love to have some time with their kids … a quieter time that is an alone time."

And no matter what the weather is like, send kids outside to play every day, Lynn said.

"Every child should be outside for a certain amount of time every day," she said. "Take advantage of winter. It's not the enemy."

It's not unusual for parents to look forward to their children heading back to school and routines settling down but don't say so out loud, Lynn said, because kids don't need to hear that and might take it the wrong way. 

To hear more, click on the audio link below:

With files from B.C. Almanac