Brace yourselves.

We’ve entered the third week of December. It’s coming.

Winter Break.

I always count down to school breaks like the kids count down to Christmas. No rigid schedule. No lunches to pack. No pick up line. But then, about four hours, fifteen snacks, and three hundred tattling sessions later, I’m back at the calendar numbering the days until school starts again. This is my first year with both kids in school, so we are going to try to smooth the edges of chaos and truly enjoy these two weeks.  These are the survival steps I’m taking to help us.

Limit TV

Sure experts tell us to limit screen time for a variety of great reasons, and we really should listen to them, but I suggest it for something more practical. Keep that mind-numbing screen time as your ace in the hole. At that moment when it’s them or you, plop your kids in front of the tube and take a breather. Suddenly you are Gracious Kind Loving Benefactress and they are quiet, and more importantly, still alive. It saves you both the mess of a frustrated confrontation.

Horde Sleep like Gold

You might not have sleep issues in your family. We do. My kids will not sleep in … ever. Even if I keep them up until after midnight, they still wake up early. Only then they stumble through the day exhausted, grumpy, and argumentative. Needless to say, our goal of a smooth vacation doesn’t mix well with tired children. So, I will focus on staggering our late nights with easy evenings flowing into early bedtimes, especially on nights before special events. Because what kid is going to go to bed early on Christmas Eve?

Head to the Library

The library gives your family free distraction that you can take home. Head over and check out piles of books to interest your kids. I especially love books on tape which can be read more dramatically than I ever could! Your library might even have a digital collection that can be accessed from home. The last time my son was sick, we found Sideways Stories from Wayside School on tape and he listened along with several short stories. Also, look into any programs they might offer for December. Our local library hosts a Winter Reading Challenge for patrons to earn prizes.

Stock up on Crafts, Play Dates, and Activities

Nothing stops a meltdown like a change of scenery or activity. Arrange a play date. Head to the mall. Print some coloring sheets from the Internet. Bust out a new dollar store watercolor set. Much like the TV, I’m going to stock up on craft ideas and supplies in order to save my sanity.

Vacation days can be a blessing or a curse. This year my family wants to avoid the chaos. With a little planning, hopefully we can enjoy our time together.

Help us out with more cool kid entertainment ideas in the comments below!