On the first day of winter break, my child gave to me. . . a messy house to clean. No joke! But even though my day ended with a little extra cleaning; this winter break I remind myself that this time together with my kiddo is precious and rare. These next twelve days provide an opportunity to connect and interact with my child in ways I don't normally get during the typical school week.
So, from one parent to another; here are twelve suggestions for some ways to connect, protect, and invest in your children. The point is not to add to your already full plate. It's brought to you with hope that you'll choose at least one to add to the already great foundation you're laying for your child.
1st DAY of WINTER BREAK
The holidays can be a tough time of year. Talk about it.
No matter which holiday you celebrate (or don't) this time of year can be packed with lots of emotions. It's a time of remembering those we've lost. It's a time of gathering (sometimes with difficult family dynamics). And it's a time of reflection on our past year. Take a minute to sit with your child and talk about what their feeling. Find ways to honor those loved ones. Acknowledge difficult family dynamics and reinforce your love for them. Talk about goals for the upcoming year.
2nd DAY of WINTER BREAK
Clean out your cabinets and drop off any unwanted or unused prescriptions at a safe drop off location.
With lots of guests coming in and out of your home; and with your kids spending more of their waking hours in the house, it's a good idea to get rid of prescriptions you no longer use. Click HERE to find a drop box near you. Consider having a conversation with your child about medicine safety. Here is another great resource to help you have those conversations (link here).
3rd DAY of WINTER BREAK
Take a break from screen time - including yourself.
Chances are that with all the extra time at home there will be a few extra hours to plug in, log on, or browse. Be a good role model and set a limit on screen time. Give your kids some examples of things to do over the break. Check out the list of activities offered at Park & Rec (here), Community Ed (here), YMCA (here), and at Lifetime Fitness (here).
4th DAY of WINTER BREAK
Grab a treat together and let them talk.
Taking the opportunity to schedule in some one-on-one time is important. Even if it's just half-an-hour. Take the opportunity to listen. Check in with you child about their first semester at school. Ask about their friends. Ask about their goals for the new year? Ask. Ask. Ask. and Listen.
Asking open-ended questions and listening will foster good communication which will help make you someone they'll turn to when they need someone. Here (link here) are some tips to foster good communication skills and proof of why it's so important.
5th DAY of WINTER BREAK
Check their spaces.
Another way to check in on them is to check their spaces. You can learn a lot about them by what you see and find...
• Check their computer. What are their habits? Are they staying up too late playing games?
• Check their backpack. Make sure all those highlighters are actually highlighters. Read this post HERE to find out more about what to look for in your kids backpack.
6th DAY of WINTER BREAK
Share a memory about a tough time in your life.
Yes. We're asking you to get the baby books and photo albums out. Show your child a world before digital photo albums existed. And at the same time, share with them a time in your life you overcame a struggle.
In your child's eyes, you are superhuman. By sharing, you help your kids see you were once their age and experienced some of the things they are experiencing. It may open the doors of communication and give you a chance to teach your child coping skills. Keep in mind this isn't about sharing the gory details of your past. This is about teaching your child how to cope. Ask how they handle stress? Click HERE for more information.
7th DAY of WINTER BREAK
Teach them a life skill.
We teach our children every day by being a positive example. There are some things we just take care of on our own and we oftentimes forget those are important things our children need to learn as well. Try to schedule an few hours to teach your child something new.
• How to change the oil on their car.
• How to use power tools.
• How to order food at a restaurant.
• How to have a conversation with a stranger (Suggestion: visit a nursing home).
• How to use a frying pan.
8th DAY of WINTER BREAK
Do some homework of your own.
Take a tour of the help section of the library and check out a book on parenting or log online to community ed or other partners pages (link here) and sign up for a parenting class. We try our best as parents. The more tools we have in our tool belt, the more likely we will be to set our children up for success.
9th DAY of WINTER BREAK
Let them teach you something new.
Flip roles. Most of the time, as parents, we are telling our children what to do. Switch places and have them teach you.
For example, have them teach you how to use social media. Now wouldn't THAT be an insightful and useful lesson??
10th DAY of WINTER BREAK
We're heading into the cold, gray month of January. Talk to your child about seasonal depression.
We're heading into the cold, gray month of January. Talk to your child about seasonal depression. Our moods can be affected by the lack of sunshine and gray weather. It's important for our children to know these feelings are real and they're not alone in experiencing them. Talk them through how to manage these feelings, and provide them with the tools on how and where they can get help. (link here).
11th DAY OF WINTER BREAK
Volunteer a privilege to show your trust.
• Taking your car
• $50 cash
• Using your tools
• Giving time to use something of yours they value
Trust is earned. By giving them something they want and repeatedly ask for you open up an opportunity to show your trust. It's hard to not want to hold onto them and protect them from the world. Depending on their ask, and the current situation of your child, it might not be a bad idea to offer up something and have them prove to you that you can trust them. Responsibility. This also allows for good follow up conversations. Click here for a link with suggestions on trust (click here).
12 DAY of WINTER BREAK
Pledge to talk to your child about
E-cigarettes and vaping.
For the first time in nearly 18 years, youth tobacco rates in Minnesota and across the country are ON THE RISE. The culprit? E-cigarettes, or 'JUUL' as the teens call it. And despite what many teens believe and suggest, JUULing is NOT HARMLESS. The crafty, trendy design of the devices combined with the attractive flavors has many of our teens addicted to the nicotine hidden behind the flavor. Here are some of our favorite resources that will help you get up to speed on these incredibly trendy and popular devices. (click here).