I’m a Parenting Expert and these are the top 10 things to keep your kids entertained between Christmas and New Year

CHRISTMAS is almost here and for those of you with young children, you might be feeling a bit daunted at the thought of keeping your kids entertained over the festive period.

The big day is normally fine – people have their family and friends over, there’s food, games and Christmas films to keep them entertained.

However, the period that a lot of parents struggle with, is during Christmas and New Year, when the kids are off school and are going a bit loopy after all of the Christmas chocolate.

So we spoke to Anita Cleare, parenting coach and author of The Work/Parent Switch, to get her expert advice on how best to keep kids calm and well-behaved during the festive period.

Anita recognises that the Christmas period can be a challenging time for children.

She explained: “We wind children up for weeks in advance about Christmas – writing to Santa to ask for presents, taking them to visit Santa, telling them to be good in case Santa doesn’t come – so that by the time Christmas Eve arrives, it’s hardly surprising they are way too excited to sleep.

Come Christmas morning, little ones can find it really hard to cope with all that excitement and disrupted routines.

“Throw in too much sugar and the results can be a bit fractious.

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“Those big emotions can result in some big meltdowns!

“Then, the days after Christmas can be a bit of a come down after all the hyper-excitement.

“The presents have all been opened and there’s no more Santa to look forward to.

“Children can get bored and restless and, if they’re still tucking into the Christmas chocolates, they will soon be bouncing off the walls.

“The novelty of those new toys can war off very quickly!

“Adults aren’t always at our best over Christmas either.

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“Before Christmas, we are often stressed out running around trying to get everything ready for the big day.

“Then afterwards, we are worn out and just want to put our feet up (especially if we have overindulged).

“And, if it’s cold and wet outside, that sofa is extra appealing.”

So what sort of behaviour should parents expect?

Anna explains: “Bored children are prone to whining – especially when they want mum or dad to play with them.

“Whereas older children who have received new gadgets for Christmas might be hard to galvanise into any activity at all!

“Just getting them out of their pyjamas can feel like a battle.

“Little ones can’t understand why they were allowed chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday but not today so there could be some tantrums too.

“Siblings can find it hard to share new toys, so there is likely to be some bickering, especially if one sibling is jealous of the other’s hoard of presents.

“And parents who have been relying on the threat that ‘Father Christmas is watching you’ for the last month are suddenly out of ideas when it comes to managing children’s behaviour!

“Nobody likes to feel like the Christmas Grinch by telling kids off at this time of year.”

If you need some advice for keeping your kids entertained, you’ve come to the right place.

Anita advises: “Try to keep the kids in their routine so they are a bit more settled.

“Eating and sleeping at regular times can make a huge difference to children’s moods.

“If things are getting out of hand with squabbling siblings, step in early rather than letting it escalate. If they can’t get on, set them up in separate activities for some cooling off.

“Allow children a bit of down time in their pyjamas (it’s their holiday after all!) but try to get them outside and burning off energy as often as you can.

“Children might not be too keen if you suggest a walk, so make it interesting.

“You could head to a stream or river to play Pooh Sticks or take a bucket with you to collect sticks and stones and feathers.

“Don’t call it a walk, call it a Minibeast Safari and see who can spot the most animals, birds and insects.

“If it’s a bit wet, pull on the wellies and go puddle jumping.

“Or do a walking tour of the local cafes to see which one serves the best hot chocolate.

“Take photos as you go and make a Christmas photo album when you get home.”

If you need more ideas to keep the kids quiet, Anita has shared ten foolproof activities to keep your little ones entertained.

Charades

Who doesn’t love a fun game of charades?!

Anita says: “The great thing about charades is that it takes no preparation and all ages can play.

“For very little ones, try miming Christmas decorations or Christmas food (you’ll love what they come up with for brussels sprouts!)”

Board games

Board games are fun for all the family – they are a great way to get everyone involved for a few hours.

Anita advises: “Turn off the tech and go back to basics with a board game tournament.

“Choose a game that can be finished quickly if you have younger children.

“And make sure you agree the rules in advance if you have older ones!”

Have a dance off

If your kids like dancing, why not get them to do a dance off?!

Anita explains: “Perfect for families who are Strictly fans!

“Which family member can do the best dance performance? You could do a couples dances or solo.

“Great for burning off energy (and all those extra calories).

“Why not go the whole way and make some scoring paddles too.”

Get cooking

You are bound to have loads of food lying around the house after Christmas Day and getting the kids involved in cooking is a great way to keep them entertained.

Anita says: “Got leftovers that need using up? Or maybe you have decided on a health kick for the New Year?

“Get older children involved in the kitchen.

“You could have a family bake off (in teams for little ones) or get teenagers cooking a whole meal in your own Come Dine With Me experience.”

Build a den

You don’t have to go all out to keep your kids busy – simply encourage them to create a den and that’s bound to keep them busy.

Anita advises: “If the weather is foul you can do this inside with sofa cushions and blankets.

“Or wrap up warm and head to the park or the nearest woods.

“If you are lucky, you might be able to grab a coffee and a bench and relax while the kids get on with it.”

Get crafting

Arts and crafts are fun for all ages and can keep your kids preoccupied for hours on end.

Anita recommends: “Collect ribbons and wrapping paper from opened presents and see what you can make.

“Or get ahead of next year’s Christmas prep by making Christmas cards or recycling this year’s cards into gift tags.”

Go swimming

If you live near a swimming pool, why not get the kids out of the house and down to the pool for a few hours?

Anita says: “This is the perfect winter exercise for burning off excess energy.

“A favourite for bored school holiday days.”

Paint rocks

If you want your kids to get active and creative, why not paint rocks?

Anita advocates: “Collect some interesting stones, give them a wash and then get creative with paints or pens.

“Then you can hide them in the local area for people to find and make your neighbourhood smile.

“Also involves going out for walks so a double win!”

Movie time

Although you might not want to shove your kids in front of the TV, if all else fails, it could be a good idea.

Anita suggests: “Sometimes snuggling up to watch a film is all you need.

“Cuddles and movie nights are great all year round but especially when mum or dad need a rest.

“A little bit of stillness after all the mayhem.”

Summer bucket list

If your kids are still bored after all of the above, it could be an idea to get them planning for the future.

Anita proposes: “Winter is the perfect time to start planning your summer.

“You could get your children involved in researching days out and holidays and come up with a family summer bucket list.

“You could even have a Dragons Den moment with each child having to pitch their ideas to the rest of the family to see if they make it onto the list.”

Meanwhile, I wrap my Christmas presents WITHOUT sellotape – it’s really simple and saves time and faff.

Also, the top loungewear looks for chilling on the sofa between Christmas and NY – prices start from just £14.

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