The holidays are finally here and you’re hosting your family’s get-together. It’s going to be a big event and you’re all fueled up. Everything is in place — you’ve prepared an amazing spread that caters to all of your family’s dietary needs; the decorations you made with your kids out of recycled materials give the house a warm and fuzzy feeling; and best of all your Aunt Molly can’t make it this year, so everyone will be spared her sarcastic remarks and lame jokes.
BUT — there’s still one thing that’s causing you sleepless nights and stressful days.
How are you going to keep all the kids out of the punchbowl and your little one out of your hair?
The chaos at Granny’s birthday party last year was crazier than the wildest episode of Double Dare: kids running amok around the house, having pillow fights in the guest room, and throwing olives into the punchbowl. And, all the while your first born buried himself in a corner with your Iphone, and your little one was glued to you whining relentlessly that she was bored. You never got to finish your drink let alone enjoy any kind of adult conversation.
You promised yourself, “NEVER AGAIN!”
But, how? What can you do without becoming the kids’ recreation officer?
The following activities are simple and fun. They require minimal preparation and will keep the kids busy until they bond and are comfortable to go off and play on their own. They can be played in teams. Mixed-aged teams work well, especially when there are little ones, who still need a bit of supervision.
Kids love to count. Give them something to count around the house and off they go! The trick is to make each challenge more difficult than the previous one by choosing items that are harder to count and by limiting the time allowed for the task.
For example, I collect birds. I have small artifacts around the house, bird pictures on the walls and even on a cushion or two. I’ve had kids running from room to room counting the little creatures. On one occasion they even discovered birds on a coffee mug, I had totally forgotten about.
Another fun object is the lights around the house or the number of “legs” — chair legs, table legs and … even human legs. This activity lends itself to creative calculations.
Counting the number of guests is simple enough, but how about counting the number of people over a certain age or wearing a certain color? And, if you want to give the kids a mega challenge … how about adding up the ages of all the guests?
Give the kids a list of questions they have to find the answers to by asking the guests. The first time I did this activity, I asked the kids to find out who likes what to eat. The answers have served me ever since when preparing for get-togethers! Other possible categories are favorite sports, TV shows or types of weather. The beauty of this activity is that it requires the kids to interact with the adults and in some cases overcome their shyness.
Kids love posing and making funny faces. The more ridiculous they are, the more giggles they generate. Have the kids practice making faces in front of a mirror and then take pictures to share. This activity may require some parents to give up their phone for a bit, but that’s not a bad thing.
By now, the ice should be broken. The kids have run around and had a good laugh. The final activity is a talent show. Each team puts on a short act before the guests. While watching these performances sometimes requires a bit of patience and goodwill, it’s a small price to pay in exchange for the peace and quiet parents enjoyed while their kids were busy preparing them!
These activities are more than just fun. They involve an array of leadership skills, such as teamwork and public speaking. They also encourage problem solving and creativity. They help kids overcome shyness and deal with competition and that’s a lot.
So, it’s time to take control of your life and make decisions that work for you.
It’s Time 2 Lead!
It’s time to THRIVE!
Originally published at medium.com