My daughter is nearly five, so I’ve had a few years to hone my daddy-daughter-home-alone-during-the-holidays-skills.
Please note: I’m just a dad trying to maintain sanity within the new OnDemander generation. There, don’t sue me if your attempt goes insanely south.
1 Start a drawing, let your kid finish it. You’ll treasure this shared bonding time – maybe get a cool pic worth framing. I started a drawing with large smiley faces of our family, including pets. Daughter filled in the rest of the picture. (Below: I had no idea we were mermaids and our dogs could fly).
2 Make up songs in the car. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? This tip might help preempt headaches or restless road rage. Basically, you change the words of the songs on the radio. Until I was a tween, I thought the Eagles lyric “Taking Care of Business” was really “Taking Care of Biscuits.” Don’t ask. But my toddler cackled long enough to keep the game going for a half hour or so.
3 Use “timeout” as an opportunity to draw pictures about your feelings. First, it’s the holidays – give’em a break. But if you must send them to their room, send them with crayons and paper. Note: coloring on the bed should not increase length of stay. After all, they’re washable. (Below: timeout-induced, crayoned bed spread).
4 Madlib stories at bedtime. Once upon a time, there was a little kid named (let them answer). You tell a line. They tell a line. Continue until they all lived happily ever after. Believe me, stick with happy. You don’t want your toddler waking up because the wicked witch swiped your holiday presents or a T-Rex from Mars lives in your neighbor’s backyard. Live and learn.
5 Build something worth building. Preferably at Gramma’s house, too. Test your kid’s architecture skills at constructing the best make-believe tent, skyscraper or castle animal kingdom in your living room. Caution: be sure to snap a picture of it. You may have to recreate it if dismantled overnight. (Below: Castle de lion king).
6 Lend them your camera phone. You think you see what your kids see? Give them your phone or digital camera to capture the world the way they see it. You’ll be surprised at what’s really going on inside their lil brain. (Below: bffs for life, wait, is that a pleonasm?)
7 Paint the inside garage door. Finger paint, splash paint, graffiti – it’s a garage door. Enough said.
8 In the infamous words of the Terminator, “Get out!” Turn off the TV. Put the video games and tablets down. Nothing says adventure like getting outside the house. Feed the squirrels, check out your neighbor’s holiday decor or simply go to the airport and watch airplanes taking off (big win here). Keep their little minds and bodies filled with activity, and you’ll lessen the likelihood of midday meltdowns. If you’re really lucky, maybe even tucker your tyke out for an afternoon nap.
9 Keep the happy in the holidays. Do something new this holiday you’ve never done before. You only live once. Twice, if you’re James Bond.
Summary: If none of these tips help, don’t worry. Work is waiting for you, school for them. Happy Holidays!