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This easy-to-make Activity Jar takes the stress out of entertaining your kids, something all of us mamas need!

With Christmas break and the cold, dark month of January ahead, I am filling up my metaphorical toolbox so I can survive COVID quarantine and keep my kids occupied and happy. Happy kids means I am not stressing, yelling, or crying in the bathroom (all things I have done a lot this year).

After talking with my sister about her “Advent Activity Calendar” that she and her husband create every December for their young daughter, I thought of a Pinterest post I saw years ago, long before I was a mom, that had a jar full of popsicle sticks with activities written on them. Taking a note from those and my sister’s wonderful idea (where they put one activity in each day’s slot), I came up with my own version and thought some of you tired mamas might also find it useful.

The thing I love most about this idea is that it takes the planning out of my day – plan once and enjoy for the month(s) to come!

Seriously, my brain is mush after months of COVID stress and the constant adjusting to weird rules, isolation, and non-stop cooking, cleaning, and activity planning! Trying to entertain a mischievous two year old and an inquisitive four year old has been my biggest stress most days and has me running on empty lately.

And I don’t know about you, but I find that when I suggest an activity to my kids, I’m instantly greeted with whining and stomping feet. This activity jar brings a bit of excitement and, because the kids are involved in creating it and using it, they feel more inclined to follow through with the activities chosen.

So, here are the very simple steps to create your own Activity/Play Jar:

  1. Find a container or jar that will easily hold slips of paper.

We used a basic mason jar and I had the girls decorate it with stickers and a ribbon to make it more “fun”. You could also use a nice gift box or even a reusable advent calendar, but I like the idea of the jar because it can be used all year long.

  1. Make a list of activities you can do.

Again, you can involve the kids with this list (depending on how old they are). I made my list ahead of time and only put activities on there I was willing to participate in. They play some rougher games with their dad that did not go in the jar and they do lots of crafts with Nana, so I left things like that out.

I also left out screen time. Since the pandemic, we have watched a lot of movies and I am perfectly okay with that, but these activities were meant to bookend watching a show or movie. I find when my kids watch movies all morning, they are grouchy and irritable. Hence, the activity jar.

Note: To make my list, I simply went through each room of our house mentally, thinking of what toys and activities were available in each. When writing them down, I labeled which room each activity could be done in. For example, colouring is done at the kitchen table, so I labeled it with a “K”; all the Barbies are kept in Zoey’s room, so “Barbie fun” was labeled with a “Z”.

  1. After writing down the activities, cut them into strips to be placed into your jar.

Pretty simple step and remember, it doesn’t have to be pretty.

  1. Place the strips into your jar and you are all set!

Have the kids pull out one or two strips each and remember to get excited, especially the first couple times you use the jar. Build some buzz around what they’ll pick out and eventually they will look forward to the jar every day! It’s up to you whether the strips go right back in the jar or get set aside until the week is up.

Here’s hoping this helps you stay sane as we head towards a vaccine and a (hopefully) lighter new year!

Sending you lots of patience and love,

Lisa

P.S. If you are looking for activities you can do to keep your bucket full, my third book, Boundaries and Bucket-Filling, is full of ideas! Get your paperback, ebook, or audiobook version here.