Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

Making the Most of Winter Break

The kids are excited; either their winter break has already begun or is about to. And that means a lot of time off school.

Uh oh. For many of us that also means a whole lotta kids without many plans beyond holiday celebrations. That may be a welcome change for some kids who love going to bed later than usual, sleeping in past the usual wake-up time and relaxing in front of the TV.

But that loss of routine can be difficult for some kids, particularly those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, says Patricia Quinn, a developmental pediatrician with four children of her own. Quinn knows a little something about kids with ADHD, both from the clinical side and as a parent. Three of her children, who are now grown, have the disorder.

While many people associate ADHD with impulsive hyperactivity, Quinn says that's the rarest form of the disorder. Other symptoms can be daydreaming and an inability to focus. The children may be disorganized and always be losing things. Or they may be hypertalkative, particularly girls.

A change of schedule, like winter break, can upset children with ADHD because they are neurologically more vulnurable. So Quinn advises parents of children with ADHD to stick to the family's usual schedule and keep things the same as much as possible. And parents should plan activities for winter break that will keep their children both busy and productive.

Some suggestions:

  • Let your child go through that shoebox full of pictures. They'll get distracted by it and maybe make a collage with it. Or have them sort the photos. The same goes for sorting old baby toys. Kids can get lost playing with those old toys and they are kept both busy and stimulated.
  • Take a vacation from your staycation: Have you seen any promos recently from a local hotel, particularly one with an indoor pool? Quinn recalls having a terrific one-day/one-night vacation at a hotel in Pentagon City for just $39. She and her kids swam in the pool the entire day. If that's not in the cards, then try to spend a day at an indoor pool near you.
  • Organize a museum day: Rather than letting the kids just wander off at the museum, look online and get a series of pictures that are in the museum. Or, find some stamps that are based on art and go on a treasure hunt to find the pictures. Just remember to continue to supervise your children at those museums, particularly for children who don't have the maturity to roam on their own responsibly.

For those older kids who are coming back from college for the holidays, Campus Grotto has a few ideas of its own, such as:

  • Spend some quality time with the family, both eating home-cooked meals and relaxing with siblings.
  • Work, volunteer or look for an internship.
  • Catch up on movies and reconnect with old friends.

What are your plans for winter break? What have you done in the past that have been winners with your kids?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  December 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Teens , Tweens
Previous: 2008 Baby Names | Next: Obscene or Not?


ADHD is not an issue in my family because of the Oooooh....look...shiny.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 24, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

I think my plans are simply to survive beyond the actual Christmas celebration. Right now the kids are sitting in my office watching a movie because our babysitter bailed last night on us. Yippee. A friend of mine will take them later on for a few hours.

Next week I will be recovering from surgery so I hope that the ex doesn't decide that she prefers that we take them rather than send them to their regular babysitter. I will be in no shape to look after them by myself the day after my surgery. We have a life too and can't always pick up the slack due to her lack of planning.

Posted by: Billie_R | December 24, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I would suspect that Jezebel3's doctor stopped her diagnosis at "jerk."

Posted by: anonthistime | December 24, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I would suspect that Jezebel3's doctor stopped her diagnosis at "jerk."

Posted by: anonthistime | December 24, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Bless you.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 24, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Winter vacation is a time when snow is a blessing! Bundle 'em up and send 'em outside! If I have a little extra energy, I'll take 'em sledding or skiing.
Good luck with the surgery Billie -- use the word "no" if you have to.

Posted by: annenh | December 24, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I for one am looking forward to not having school, dance classes, swim team practice, etc. I can't wait to just let my kids play. We hae a few play dates with friends scheduled and that is it. I, for one, avoid museums during school breaks and weekends, they are way too crowded. I would rather pull the kids from school and do that on a regular day. One thing we do love is the zoo in winter. Many of the exhibits are still open and there is usually few other people there.


Posted by: thosewilsongirls | December 24, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the zoo! Thank you! That is a great idea. We have a family membership, too, so I'm just not thinking, I guess.

Other things that are fun to do here (but might not work so well in really cold areas) is go to an area of a regional park we haven't explored before, and just follow one of the hiking trails and see what we see. Might be monarch butterflies wintering in the acacias, deer, interesting twisted old oaks, spectacular views of the hills or lakes (okay, mostly reservors - but they're still pretty) other wild life, or meeting other hikers, sometimes with friendly dogs.

This year the boys got me craft kits for making candles and soap - so they'll each get some one-on-one time with me while we use those kits. (We opened our gifts on Yule, Dec. 21, since we aren't Christians we don't do Christmas.)

Posted by: SueMc | December 24, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I'll be using the time to cram in some homeschooling with my older daughter and let her play with the art supplies Santa got her. I managed to find her a puzzle map of the United States and a pair of roller skates, so she'll be learning about our country and spending time wearing herself out in the great outdoors. Trips to the local library are also a possibility since they're free.

And SueMc, Blessed Yule to you! We celebrate that holiday as well, although we celebrate the secular side of Christmas as well. The kids get gifts from Santa, and we go to my family's house for dinner. For Yule, we put up the tree, decorate the household altar, have a feast, and celebrate the Sun's rebirth. We don't emphasize gift-giving as much, but everyone gets one special thing. It's a bit of a balancing act, but it's gotten easier as the kids get older.

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | December 25, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company