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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

With the kids out of school for a couple weeks near the end of December, you may start to see symptoms of JCF (Juvenile Cabin Fever) manifest themselves in your living room.

While you certainly can’t provide entertainment every second of the day (you’re their parents, after all, not Mary Poppins), you may find that a few easy activities can help occupy your kids – and give you time to catch up on one of the many things on your to-do list.

Here are a few fun projects your kids can work on while they are cooped up indoors over the holiday season. Most of these “gardening” projects can be mostly completed indoors, with just one or two trips outside. But if you live in an area that is a bit warmer, these projects can also give your kids a reason to play outside for a while (and give you a chance for you to have a bit of peace and quiet).

  • Quirky flower pots: Just because it is winter time doesn’t mean you can’t grow flowers. You may just have to think outside the box (or the flower bed). Look for old bags, hats or shoes that your children grew out of during the last year. Old rain boots will work particularly well. Fill the boots with soil and let your kids plant flower seeds directly inside them. Your kids can tend to their “flower boots” by watering them every day and making sure the flowers stay near a window where they can get enough sunlight. Consider keeping the boots in the laundry room or mud room (somewhere where you don’t mind a little soil and mess). This holiday project can bring a little touch of spring into your December.
  • Reindeer food. With Santa Claus’ arrival right around the corner, why not prep your garden for his reindeer? There are plenty of reindeer food recipes online, so look for the one that appeals the most to you. Just make sure you include a bit of glitter in your recipe – this is important so that the reindeer can find it in the dark (wink). Let your kids scatter the reindeer food around the yard and garden on Christmas Eve so it will be ready for Santa’s hungry team.
  • Scrooge-proofing. Believe it or not, your garden can be used to deter real-life intruders – and it can also be used to scare holiday Scrooges away from your home. Encourage your children to help you decorate the yard and garden with festive lights and other holiday decorations. This is a good way to get everyone out of the house and get some extra help with your holiday decorating!
  • Holiday collage. Creating a garden collage is a great project that can also serve as an easy way to make thank-you cards for relatives or teachers. Have your kids walk around the yard and collect items like leaves, twigs, pinecones, acorns and petals and put them in a bag. Then let your kids glue or tape all of these items onto a canvas, poster board or simple piece of paper. Voila! You have a great start to a thank-you card or something lovely that can go up on the fridge.

Karen Clark is the mother of three who writes about the home, technology, and sustainable living.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of kids suffering from JCF.