5 sanity-savers
Keeping your kids busy is a skill, especially during the holidays.
Winter holidays are now longer than ever before. In the Cape, it has rained for almost half of the time, so it has been particularly challenging keeping three energetic kids on the move. Here's how we managed to do some of it without breaking the bank- but perhaps you have some suggestions of yourr own to add...

We cheated at board games

With kids, it appears that  rules are made to be broken, or at least embellished, especially when it comes to board games. That comes withthe territory when you have kids ranging in age from six (not really reading) to twelve (and competitive). While you may have to play with your kids, you'll definitely need to referee if things get heated. Despite the shifting rules, we managed to have loads of fun with Clue and Scrabble. Why do they take such pleasure in a game which is based on murder? Should I be nervous? Next step, Monopoly and maybe one of the newer ones- Twilight- the board game!

Dominating at dominoes

I used to take pity on my kids when we played games. Whenever I saw an opportunity to clean up the board, I'd sometimes hold back, allowing them to play for longer and give them the challenge of beating me. Not any more! We rediscovered the joy of dominoes, and, for the first time, even my youngest was able to play against all of us on his own. At one point, he beat me in seven straight games. It's a simple game, fun for the whole family and you can even pack it with you in a bag if you're going away for the holidays.


Card games are way back in history for me, so I had to let my kids teach me new games. Still, we managed to play variations of snap for hours on end. I did have to keep an eye on them to make sure they weren't bending the corners back of certain cards so that they could become amateur magicians, but, again, this was a compact game which kept us all laughing.


Our crafts ranged from very cheap sets bought at the local toyshop (sometimes for cheaper than R10 per set) to odd constructions made out of corks, toothpicks and paper cupcake holders (Hannah's pixie-fairy-bug house comes to mind). We have a big drawer full of paints, pencils, pens and paper thanks to Karen, who is a pre-school teacher, so we were able to come up with home-made jigsaws, glitter-picture fridge magnets and other messy things to do. My older boy enjoys the fact that he's allowed to use the sharp, pointy tools, too, so he was also included in the fun.

Being a meteorologist

We kept one eye on the windows, especially during one long patch of rain which lasted days. When the sun did show its face, we threw on wellies and coats and headed out. There were brief trips up a muddy mountain, some puddle-splashing in the park, and even some death-defying spins on scooters at the skatepark. The rain wasn't so bad, although, it tended to lead to the consumption of comfort food. Our dirty little holiday secret? Grabbing McDonalds via the drive-through counter, and guzzling hot chips in the car to warm up after a brave foray into the cold.

After trying to explain to them too many times that we couldn't go out into the rain, it felt like we were celebrating life to feel the wind on our faces again.

You know what? We had some great times together, and, the more effort Karen and I made to keep them busy, the less we heard any complaints of boredom.

What did you do? Any tips for parents on how to keep cabin fever at bay?

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