It's the second day of school holidays.  Actually, I'm not even sure it's technically the holidays yet since it's still the first weekend and the kids haven't yet missed any school days. Regardless, it's been two days off and two days of rain. Even with a couple of wet walks and lots of indoor fun, we've had two consecutive days of screen time. 

I'm not a fan of my kids using devices to unwind.  While they're playing a game or watching something, they are fully engaged, focused, and quiet, or if it's a more sociable use, interacting appropriately. But the moment the gadget is switched off, whether it's ten minutes or ten hours, the kids are bouncing off the walls or down deep with extreme emotions. It seems to me that the time on the screen simply delays the emotional processing that needs doing.  

In the days since the gadget invasion, it can be easy to forget how kids used to fill their days. It's almost reflexive to pass them a device instead of bearing the groans of, "I'm sooooo bored!"  The boredom song can be soul destroying for parents and a very effective bargaining tool for children, but I can't bear two weeks of the post-gadget tantrums, so I needed some alternatives. I asked my kids to help generate some ideas so they'd be excited with the options and partners in the plan.  I sat down with the Sadie (4) and Dan (7) and we made a list of some of the 'at home' things we'd like to do over the holidays:

  1. Homemade playdough.
  2. Extreme puddle jumping with full rain gear.
  3. Finger knitting for the smaller kids (<6 years).
  4. Knitting and crocheting for the bigger kids. 
  5. Writing letters to long lost neighbours.  
  6. Making things explode. 
  7. Board games - Free printable versions of: Battleship, Checkers, Camping game
  8. Building forts.
  9. Jigsaw puzzles.
  10. Helping around the house (that was my idea, hehe).
  11. Dress ups.
  12. Hide and go seek.  

Today we tackled item #1 homemade playdough, scented playdough.  I used this recipe because it's perfect!  It's goofproof, the dough has a great texture, and it lasts for weeks.  We've found that if you store it in the fridge, it lasts a bit longer, but sometimes gets too moist.  It keeps in the cupboard for several weeks, too, but gets quite dry.  

In a pot, in no particular order, measure and add:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil 
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 
  • food colouring (optional)*
  1. Mix until there are only small lumps left.
  2. Heat on medium, stirring constantly until a ball forms.
  3. Remove from heat and knead the warm dough.
  4. When the playdough cools, if you'd like to make scented playdough, add 2-4 drops of essential oil and knead again.  
  5. Add some cookies cutters, cutlery, and a rolling pin and let your imagination go wild!

We made a batch of lavendar playdough and a batch of lemon playdough.  Warning: Lemon-scented playdough smells delicious enough to eat.  

*Food colouring isn't good for everyone.  Next time, I'll try with a more natural colorant, perhaps beetroot juice. 

Holiday scorecard: Today, we've had 35 minutes of screen time, 10 minutes of tantrums, and 3 1/2 hours of making and playing with playdough and a little bit of #11.  Win!