Wondering what to do this weekend?
Saturday is National Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. Let’s get out there and teach our kids how to make a difference!
Celebrating New Year’s Eve with Kids? Here Are 6 Ideas
Becoming a parent changes… a lot of things. You sleep less, stress more, and more importantly, have more people to love. On a more disappointing note, having kids typically means that your hard-partying days are over.
You might not be ringing in the New Year at a crazy party, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun. In fact, you might even find that spending a quiet(er) New Year’s Eve with the kids is a lot more enjoyable and much less exhausting. So if you’ll be spending this holiday with the kiddos, grab your mom (or dad) jeans and let’s plan a night to remember!
Plan a restful night in
For years, my family celebrated with a night at home. We’d set out a feast of junk food, play board games and watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve until midnight. We’d have cheese fondue, M&Ms, chips and dip, and millionaire’s cake – an amazing layered dessert made with chocolate pudding, cool whip, cream cheese, and nuts. The night wasn’t complete until we had a sparkling grape juice toast at midnight. And if the notion of relaxing in front of the TV and eating isn’t enticing enough, just remember that you’ll even be able to go to bed early if the mood strikes.
Go out to eat
Spoil your family. Get dressed up and go out to dinner. Some kid-focused restaurants throw parties to celebrate the night. For example, the Rainforest Café near my house is offering a New Year’s Eve buffet with food and activities for the whole family. Make reservations for one of these kid-friendly celebrations or ask the kids where they’d like to go.
Spend some time out of town
Plan a one- or two-night getaway for the family. Even if you’re only going an hour away, this change of pace will force you to leave work and chores at home and focus on your family. Here are some short vacation ideas that could make for a fun New Year’s Eve.
- Stay at a waterpark hotel. Unless you live somewhere warm, the kids haven’t seen a swimming pool since Labor Day. Splash away 2012 with a visit to an indoor waterpark.
- Go skiing. Book a short stay at a ski resort and get the kids some lessons. And as a bonus, you’ll be working off those holiday calories instead of consuming more.
- Go to the beach. If you’re somewhere warm, take the kids for a beach getaway. Spend the first few minutes of the New Year taking a moonlit walk along the shore.
- Go to Disney World. If your NYE budget is accommodating, take the family to Orlando’s Disney World for a memorable evening. With extended park hours, a magical parade and an amazing fireworks display, Disney World is the ideal place to spend the evening with kids.
Look for community events
My town, like many others, hosts a “first night” party. It’s from 4:00–7:00 pm so that the kids will be awake, and it includes food, games, live music and tons of other family fun. If you’re looking to get “out and about” for the evening, gather some neighbors and head out for a local celebration.
Throw a family-friendly bash
You know those friends you partied with when you were childless and carefree? They’re probably in the same boat. Invite them and their children over for one big New Year’s Eve bash. Here are some ideas for making your party a success.
- Tell everyone to bring pajamas. Young kids won’t be able to stay awake until midnight. Invite them to bring pajamas and sleeping bags so that they can have a slumber party on the living room floor.
- Serve plenty of “mocktails.” The kids need something non-alcoholic to toast with at midnight. Serve beverages like sparkling juice, Shirley Temples, or this tasty Floating Island Punch, made with orange sherbet, ginger ale, and concentrate.
- Set out plenty of games for the kids. “Adult time” is possible if the kids are entertained enough. If you provide several board games and crafts, you might be able to sneak in a few moments of adult conversation, disruption-free.
- Consider hiring a babysitter. Ask a teenager to oversee the kids during your party. That way, the adults won’t have to worry about the kids being unsupervised while you’re having fun.
Organize last year’s memories
Unless you’re a supermom, you probably have quite a few digital photos that haven’t even been printed. Before the big night, print off all of your photos from your digital camera and phone. Spend the evening scrapbooking, putting photos in albums and laughing over memories from this past year.
With a little bit of advance planning, New Year’s Eve with the little ones can be tons of fun. How does your family celebrate New Year’s Eve? I’d love to hear your ideas! Send me an email or let me know in the comments.
Posted in In Family Focus
“I want that, Mommy….No, I want that…” This is the type of thing a typical mother may hear as the holiday season draws near. My son is only two and a half, but I, like many other parents, need to get a handle on this “gimmie” syndrome before it gets out of control. With all the commercials for the latest and greatest toy or the surplus of toy catalogues in the mail, a parent’s job of teaching generosity and unselfishness can be quite difficult during the holiday season. Parents, rest assure there is a variety of different ways to help your child learn the meaning of the season.
Four easy ways:
- Make your little one the leader in the donation process: Have him go through his toy box and closet and decide which toys another child in need may like. If he takes the lead in the process, the separation will be easier. There are many organizations that will take gently used toys and clothes and pass them along to children who are in need. You can find organizations like Second Chance Toys online, or you can look in the phone book under social organizations for suggestions as to where to take donations. Teaching your little one early on that giving to others in need is important. Let’s all do our part to raise an unselfish generation.
- Make volunteering a family affair: As a family, decide what type of organization you could all spend time giving to. Maybe you are a family that loves to cook together and could volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food bank for the holidays. Maybe you are a family that loves to be artistic. Consider volunteering at a local children’s hospital and help the kiddos make Christmas ornaments and cards. If you are a family that loves to read together, create your own book drive, and donate the books to your local library or school district. The opportunities are endless. Decide what you all enjoy doing together, and share the love.
- Adopt an angel: Grab the kiddos and head to your local Angel Tree. Find an angel that is the same age as your kids, and shop together. Have your kids help you pick out toys and clothes that they think are special based on the angel’s list. This is a perfect time to explain to them about being thankful and gracious for what they have and encouraging them to spread that generosity to other kids. Tell your children that this angel is your family’s special Christmas project and you are going to help them have the best Christmas ever. It is not all about getting, but about helping others feel special and loved.
- Encourage kids to give their time to make someone feel special: There is no rule that Christmas presents have to be purchased at a store, wrapped up with fancy wrapping paper and left under the tree. There are many ways that children can give their time as a present and make others feel special. Help your little one create a coupon book for the other parent, grandparents, or neighbors. The coupons can be for services like free babysitting, yard work, household chores, etc., all depending on the ages of your children. This is a gift that your child can learn from year round as the coupons are cashed in. Another way for kids to give their time is to go to a local nursing home during the season. Bake some yummy treats, and go visit the elderly. There are many residents of nursing homes who may not get visitors and would love to see the smile of a sweet child. By donating their time, kiddos are learning that helping others out is all part of the love process.
As parents, it is our job to teach our little ones that Christmas is not just about getting new stuff, but it is about sharing their love with others. It is important that your kids see you model this behavior. Giving your time and donations does not have to be reserved just for the holiday season. There are limitless opportunities year round that you and your family can partake in to keep up the action of giving! In the midst of the hectic holiday shopping season, the chaotic mobs of the shopping malls, and the abundant amount of commercials telling our children that they have to have it, let us remember that the holiday season is about being together and giving our time and unselfish love to others. Happy holidays to you and yours!
Article from Parents & Kids Magazine's Current Issue.
Well, this week in daycares and preschools around the country is a type of celebration for those of us in the field of childcare. This coming week is the Week of the Young Child, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (or NAEYC for short). Every year, NAEYC picks a week to celebrate the children that we serve and the children and families in the community around us. In our centers we choose to make this week a celebration of family events, with a special activity every day of the week. In centers and even communities around the country, there are activities that you can participate in to celebrate the young child in your life.
This year's national theme is "The Early Years are The Learning Years", and that really sums up the general mission of quality childcare centers. A child learns and grows so quickly in their first few years of life, and they need to have as many experiences and opportunities as possible so that their brains can grow and process new information. So many of our perceptions and ideals in life are created early on in life, so as parents or educators of young children, it is vital to expose children to new things and allow them to form their own beliefs and opinions, and allow them the learn from their earliest experiences.
Here in Northeast Ohio, our theme specifically is "A Family is the Spice of Life." Think about your own family, and the various members and characters that are included. There are caretakers, jokers, comforters, pillars of strength, and so many other varied roles that family members play. All of these people help shape you and ultimately your child, into the person that they will be. This week long celebration allows us to focus on those family members who help children learn in their early years.
Look for Week of the Young Child events in your community by checking out your local Association for the Education of Young Children!
The National Association for the Education of Young Children's website
The Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children's website