Keeping kids busy over the holidays

“I cannot encourage parents enough to make sure their children play and play creatively – they learn so much through play. Kids have the most amazing way of using even the simplest things to have fun with. An ordinary cardboard box can instantly become a spaceship!” – Christelle du Plessis, an educational psychologist based in Johannesburg

The holidays are upon us and if you dread the thought of having to deal with kids hanging around the house looking to you to entertain them, you will have to get really creative, really quickly. 

We’ve come up with a guide to keep them entertained creatively without breaking the bank:

Makey Bakey

Baking with your children can be loads of fun and messy of course! But the benefits far outweigh the mess and seeing your child's face light up when their cupcakes come out the oven is a face you'll remember as long as you live.

“Children make sense of the world through play. It’s the way they solve problems and come up with the most amazing solutions. They learn who they are and to trust themselves if their parents encourage them to do so.” – Christelle du Plessis, an educational psychologist based in Johannesburg.

Build a fort

Growing up, was there anything more magical than building a fort in the lounge with your siblings? Using every cushion, pillow, tablecloth and sheet you could find. You'll be able to relive this experience with your kids so grab all the fort-building equipment you can and get building.

“Play gives children the opportunity to express their emotions, work through difficulties or try out new experiences in a safe space. It has been proven that children who are allowed to engage in imaginary play have a stronger ability to visualise when older and this is a vital component for learning and for skills such as strategising.” – Sunette Bishop, a child psychologist based in Somerset West.

Dress up days

Dressing up is one of the best ways to let your child's imagination run free. You'll be surprised to see who your child dresses up as and why. You could also let them make bracelets and necklaces using macaroni and use baking accessories to colour them.

“The idea of creative play is to make something extraordinary from ordinary regular things and to have fun doing so! You shouldn’t try to ‘teach’ your child during creative play. Just let the process flow.” – Christelle du Plessis, an educational psychologist based in Johannesburg. 

Board games

Family board games sessions can be unifying or dividing. Nothing unifies fighting siblings quite like teaming up against their parents or other kids. If you need law and order restored in your home, grab the Snakes & Ladders, Rummy, UNO, 30 Seconds or even a deck of cards for Snap. Their eyes will light up, devices (and any differences) will be put aside and you will be able to spend a few good hours with your kids before they start at each other again.

Visit grandparents

It's important for kids to learn to interact with people different than themselves and to learn empathy. Kids can learn so much from previous generations and the elderly enjoy having kids around them. If grandparents live too far away, bake extra cupcakes and visit your local nursing home as it can be quite isolating and the residents usually crave company (and treats). Kids don't have the rushed lives of grown-ups so they're able to listen and interact more patiently, and the elderly are able to tell stories of when they were young to entertain the kids. 


Go to the park

The weather is finally changing and it's time to get outdoors. With all the devices and technology available, it's really easy for kids to turn into couch potatoes. Going to the park allows kids to run, jump and play like kids are supposed to. Go for a bike ride, pack the skateboard or rollerblades and let them get rid of all that excess energy. Don't forget to pack healthy snacks that's convenient and healthy.