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Spend time with kids over holidays
michelle beran
Michelle Beran

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Hold on just a minute!

The holidays can be a time of extra stress – more money flying out the door, too many places to be in too little time, schedules are upset, food that we don’t eat every day, and just general chaos!

Plan ahead now for some inexpensive fun ways to just be together. Drag out the books – share one that your child loved when they were small and read it together using your best character voices. Make a trip to the library to pick out a new book – every library has great librarians who would love to make reading recommendations for you!

When is the last time you played “crazy eights”, “old maid”, or had an energetic game of Uno? In addition to using skills of taking turns and being cooperative, youth practice counting and paying attention to details.

Have you put a jigsaw puzzle together as a family? Unless you do these often, don’t start with a 1500 piece complicated one. Pick an easy one that everyone can participate in. Set up a card table in a corner and you may be surprised how often someone stops by it to add a couple of pieces.

My family has held a gingerbread house contest for many years. Now before you think these are huge, magical creations, let me tell you that they are made from graham crackers, frosting, and whatever odds and ends of candy and cereal that show up – Halloween candy is often used! The planning and giggles that go into these creations are so much fun to watch and my favorite part is seeing the big kids pair up with the little kids to help them learn about structure, creativity, and often gravity!

Be silly and dance – turn on some music and dance in the living room! It’s good exercise for the body and the brain. Show off those 90’s dance moves and learn a few from your kids. My kids and I still have “carcerts” – Yep, a concert in the car which means singing at the top of our lungs even when we don’t know all the words. We are OK with people thinking we look silly because we are having fun!

Go outside! Take a walk, play kickball, throw a disc or snowball. I grew up on one of the best sledding hills in my town. Even if we only had time for one or two runs, we were throwing ourselves on a sled and racing down the hill. My parents were regular participants in this craziness!

There is an old saying along the lines that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This applies to your family also – Unplug and Be There!

Just being there can be so hard to do but I remember one of the best/worst weeks quite a few years ago when we had a huge ice storm in 2007. We were out of power for 8 days and, while I could keep our home heated with the gas fireplace and cook on the gas stove, it could have been a really awful week just before Christmas! I couldn’t get to work and we had no internet with no power so we chose to make the best of the situation and had fun. We played games, read books, played outside, and chose to just Be There and enjoy the moment.

During the holiday break, make time to spend time with your kids! Be There because that is what they will remember!

Keep learning. Keep showing grace and kindness.

Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email Michelle at or call 620-793-1910.