A winter break sounds amazing, but many parents are bracing themselves to survive a whole week with the kids out of school. Whether you’re headed to visit relatives, going on a ski or beach vacation, or enjoying some time at home for the week, keeping the kids happy and yourself sane can be a challenge. The key is to be realistic. You may not complete your typical daily to-do list, but you can cover most of your bases with a little planning.

Successful setup
Kids like a little structure, so be ready to give it to them. Create a schedule that works for you but let’s them feel in charge. Spend 15 minutes asking them what they would like to do over the break. If watching TV and playing video games is on top of their list, let them, but within the structure of the day. Also plan for a mid-week outing. This gives you Monday and Tuesday to regroup. If you need an hour in the morning to answer emails, set that as family electronic hour. This way you can all be online at the same time.

Check in. Don’t check out
Don’t let that hour become 3. It’s easy to get sucked into work, so prioritize your deadlines and touch base with anyone that needs to know you haven’t completely checked out.

Beyond screen time
The remaining hours of the day can include creative crafting. Gather up wrapping paper, and holidays cards for kids to use to be creative. Show them how to make old cards into gift tags for next year. This is clean up and creative hour all in one.

Move it
No matter where you are, everyone needs a little fresh air, so head to the great outdoors. Send them outside to play, walk the dog or just take a walk. If the weather isn’t on your side, kids can still get out their energy with a dance party, a game of twister, or on demand a twenty minute kid friendly exercise video.

Together time
Use meal time for together time. Everyone can pitch in to make lunch and dinner, and it’s the perfect thing to do when you’re not as rushed as usual. This can be a time to connect and chat about the outdoor time or even what they are doing during their electronic time. In this case talk is not cheap.

Quiet Time
Unplug all of the electronics. Reading, meditating, or even drawing are all great ways for anyone, especially kids to decompress. Even grab a few adult coloring books for yourself, and watch your blood pressure go down. Slate the down time on your schedule.

Managing the kids with travel or work can be stressful, but it’s not forever. In a wink, your little ones will be off on their own and out of your hair. And you will inevitably miss them terribly. So enjoy the chaos that may come with winter break. Be creative, cuddle, remember to have fun, and roll with the punches.