Technology is enticing from an early age and can quickly become a child’s go-to source of input. Its pull is so powerful that it can even get in the way of the excitement of the holidays.
As a parent, it’s only natural that you want to keep your children engaged during family celebrations. Here are a few ways to help your kids stay present during the holiday festivities.
1. Set Restrictions on Personal Devices
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to set special guidelines for devices during family time. You don’t have to fully ban your kids’ devices, nor do these restrictions need to extend past the current situation. However, it’s a good idea to create rules for the time being to keep everyone engaged and involved.
Since games and the internet are two things that most glue kids to their phones, consider giving your child a device that forgoes them. A phone for kids will let your child call and text but won’t have the addictive power of other electronic gadgets. Alternatively, choose a device that enables parental controls. You’ll be able to set it not to allow gaming or internet browsing during a certain time period. Or you can have all family members shut off their devices during holiday events so you can all be present together.
2. Decorate Together
In terms of engagement, plan to do activities that involve every member of the family being creative and active. It’s one thing to decorate the house for your children and another entirely to let them lead the way. Putting up garlands and ornaments won’t be boring for them if they can do it how they please. Your decorations won’t be perfect, but it’s a small sacrifice when your children love how it turns out.
Decorating together is also a great way to encourage natural excitement because of how personal the holiday becomes. The house hasn’t simply become holiday-themed; your children have ushered in — and therefore have a hand in — the holidays themselves. They won’t feel like the holidays are being stage-managed for them, but rather that they are co-creators of your family’s festivities.
3. Make Holiday Treats and Crafts
Decorating is very effective at helping your kids stay present because it provides a reward for their efforts. Baking is the same way — if you make and decorate cookies together, the process will be exciting throughout. Baking the treat will provide focused, action-based input through following the recipe to create the ideal result. The visual and sensory results, whether in the form of small gingerbread people or a fluffy cake, provide the reward.
Making crafts together has a similar effect as long as your children are able to creatively explore the activity. Different possible crafts include making tree ornaments, garlands, or wall decorations of any kind. It’s really up to what you think your children would enjoy the most and how you support that. The best part is that you can make several treats and crafts leading up to the holidays to repeat the effect.
4. Go on Outings
The holiday season is rife with celebratory events and activities throughout the country. Attending a Christmas crafts market or holiday parade with your family can make for a festive day trip. Visit a drive-through lights display or attend a children’s concert in your local town square. On those snowy days, find a hill to sled down or spend some time in the park making snow angels.
Provided you’re part of a faith tradition, you can take them to a child-oriented service or religious activity. If Hanukkah is your holiday, let your kids light the candles on the menorah each night. If you celebrate Christmas, then you can bring along the whole family to pick out a tree. There are religious celebrations during other parts of the year, of course, but the cold brings about a certain holiday spirit. Once you return from services, you can snuggle up by the fire, relax, and drink hot cocoa.
5. Watch Holiday Classics
Lower-energy activities aren’t without their place during the festive season, either. Even sitting down to watch a movie together can be enough to keep your children present during the holidays. There’s bound to be a holiday classic everyone will enjoy, and this is your chance to introduce kids to your childhood favorites. Spice up the watch party with some of those treats you’ve been making to further sweeten a memorable evening.
Movies are also a great way to occupy the kids during events that they might otherwise not connect with. Say you plan on having family friends over for a holiday gathering. Pop on an animated classic for the kids downstairs while the adults indulge in some eggnog in the living room. It’s the perfect low-effort way to keep them in the spirit without engaging them directly in every moment. You’ll get a little adult time so you can return to the family togetherness agenda with renewed enthusiasm.
Children’s devices don’t have to take away from the excitement of this time of year. They also don’t have to be fully taken away, because a fun time will engage anyone authentically. All it takes is a small amount of planning and effort from you to ensure there’s fun to be had. You’ll never have to worry again about your children spending too much time on their screens during the holiday season.