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19 Awesome Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy Over the Holidays

19 Awesome Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy Over the Holidays


    Need some ideas for keeping the kids busy over the summer break?

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    Holidays can be a great time to bond with your children and maybe even let your own inner child come out to play. But it can also be a stressful time when kids can misbehave because of boredom. It’s best to put a little bit of advanced planning into the summer holidays and prepare yourself with an arsenal of activities to keep the little ones out of mischief.

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    Start by planning each week in advance. If the kids know they have things to look forward to it will make for happier more relaxed children.

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    Also be sure to get the children involved in the planning. They will be less likely to complain about the activities chosen if they have taken part in the decision-making. Have a range of activities to select from: stuff to do at home, in the garden, outdoors, and the odd activity that cost money to do.

    Here are 19 ideas that you can chose from.

    1. Make your own games. Get a supply of colored cards, children’s scissors, glue and anything else you may want to make some fun games. Games like Hoopla, Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Snakes and Ladders can all be easily made at home and will keep the children occupied for some time. (Note: You will probably have to help out with smaller children.)
    2. Cooking and baking. Once a week plan a cooking or baking day. Involve the kids in the process from the beginning — let them chose from a selection of recipes that you have ingredients for. If the child can read, get them to read from the recipe book. Step by step, help them to work through the instructions. Try to avoid the temptation of doing it yourself.
    3. Make an assault course. One of my eldest son’s favorite activities was assembling an assault course in the back garden. Old pieces of wood, boxes, buckets, garden chairs — anything that can be jumped over, under or around. Tell the children to time each other around the assault course. The course can be completed on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or simply by running.
    4. Build a garden patch. Dedicate a small patch in the garden to the kids. Plant flowers, herbs, lettuce — anything that grows quickly and gives them the satisfaction of having produced something. If your kids are small, just give them a spade, put on their old clothes, and let them loose. I read recently that gardeners are the happiest people alive. The explanation was that there is a form of bacteria in the soil that actually makes you happy. No harm giving it a go; we all want happy and relaxed children.
    5. Go camping. Build a tent indoors or outdoors with blankets and sheets. Once the tent is up, give them a torch and a picnic to take with them. I guarantee you won’t see them for hours.
    6. Go on picnics. You don’t have to go far to have a picnic — my children regularly ask for a picnic out the garden. I give them whatever I have in the fridge. You’d be amazed how once it is packed in a plastic container and eaten on a blanket on the grass, how much the atmosphere romanticizes the most boring of sandwiches.
    7. Have a treasure hunt. Make a treasure map with clues to find some treasure you have hidden somewhere in the garden. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big — any little treat will be exciting when it is found outdoors.
    8. Create a Summer Diary. Encourage the little ones to keep a Summer Diary or scrapbook. They can take photos of special days and write about them. It will become a lovely memory book for them in the future — and also keep them busy for hours.
    9. Get jamming. Grab some musical instruments — things like bongos, shakers or tambourines, and get jamming. Get your kids to sing and dance along. (Alternatively, you can stick on some Deep Purple, let your hair down, and dance on the furniture.)
    10. Make a movie. At this moment my two boys (aged 6 and 8) are making a movie using my iPhone and some Star Wars figures. They have decided to create it themselves and will use Windows MovieMaker to edit it afterwards. They get to have creative fun — and I get to finish this article in peace.
    11. Paint. One of the nicest ways to express your creativity is to use paint. Get large sheets of paper and lots of paint. Go mad and use your hands and feet — it’s liberating. To avoid any stress, prepare the area well and cover with plastic or newspaper. Have some water on hand to wash when you are finished.
    12. Get into jewellery making. Go to a bead shop and stock up on beads, wire and clasps, and get busy making your own jewellery. This activity can be done with the smallest of children, just be sure to get appropriate bead sizes for different age groups. The children will be so proud to wear the jewellery that they have made.
    13. Sketching. My sister is an artist and recently brought my two youngest boys and their cousin to a local park to sketch. They all had their own sketch pads and pencils, and they were encouraged to draw what they saw around them. They all had so much fun and want to make it a regular date.
    14. Go swimming. If you are lucky enough to live close to the sea, go swimming when possible. The sea has a calming effect on children and the amount of energy used in the water means that they won’t be quite as active when they get home. If you don’t live close to the sea, go to a swimming pool instead.
    15. Take nature walks. Go on nature walks with a purpose. On the beach, collect shells and stones to later make a shell castle or shell and stone sculptures. In the forest, get kids to seek out different sorts of bugs, plants or trees. Alternatively, give them a map to plot the route you are taking. By giving them control and a plan will ensure they don’t get bored too quickly.
    16. Have a garage sale. Get the kids to clear out their rooms and have a garage sale. You could sell some of your baking products and make lemonade. Pool all the money together and use it to pay for an outing for the whole family.
    17. Visit the library. Use your local library regularly. In most libraries you can get more than books; you can get movies and music. Make a day out of it. Do some reading while you’re there instead of getting some books and heading home. Give your children a love of books — it is one of the best gifts you can give them.
    18. Organize some play dates. Plan some play dates and invite friends over. While they spend time with their friends it may give you the opportunity to get some work done and perhaps even connect with other parents.Plus…the invite may be returned some day.
    19. Have a “Chill Day”. With all that activity planned, kids will also need some down time. Make sure you plan some days where you just chill, watch some movies, read some books, and take it easy.

    (Photo credit: Group of Happy Kids Silhouette via Shutterstock)

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

    More About Boosting Memory

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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