The kids are in school and settled. You’ve got a GOLDEN routine going, with lunches, homework and swim lessons. But there are only a few short months between now and when the busy holiday season arrives, right? If you are looking to add some spark to your family routine, don’t sweat. We’ve got you covered with this list of 10 Things your Family MUST Do Before Holiday Break! Pin this and bookmark it for ideas on special things to do with your family.

Photo of two young boys riding in a boat1. Cook dinner together

With hectic schedules (we know you often have to be in three places at once, Super Mom!), it’s essential to make dinner as quick and efficient as possible. And having everyone eating at the same time is a feat. But, at least once, make a family date to have EVERYONE help out cooking the meal. Your 3-year-old can mix together the ingredients for some homemade chocolate chip cookies while your older child helps to make the main dish. With everyone doing something, it will be the best-tasting meal you’ve had in a long time!

2. Have a family game night

There are tons of great games out there for all ages – even preschoolers! Designate a night to gather everyone together to play some games. If you have little ones, play a game or two with them before they go to bed and then continue the fun with the older kids after. And when they go to sleep, mom and dad can keep playing some more board games! A new Friday night routine, perhaps?

3. Go to Family Swim at Goldfish Swim School

Instead of always just watching the kids while they’re learning to swim, jump in the pool WITH them and have them show off all their moves to you! Each of our many locations offers a Family Swim at various times and you’re welcome to test the waters – even if you’re NOT currently enrolled in one of our programs! (But if you do want to enroll, here are the Top 5 Reasons Goldfish Swim School is Worth the Money.)

4. Give back

With Thanksgiving in November, it’s the time of the year to give thanks for all you’ve got – and to give back to those who need it. Whether it’s giving of your time and delivering meals to homebound seniors, using your skills to help someone in need by building, repairing or cleaning up a home, buying a gift for less fortunate children or any other kind deed, make sure you give back and volunteer in thanks for all you’ve been given.

Volunteering will not only make you feel good while helping someone else. It’ll also help your kids learn valuable lessons. Make it a part of their youth to think about those who need help and they’ll take that important lesson well into adulthood. (Our staff regularly finds ways to give back, too!)

5. Write a letter

When’s the last time you wrote a real, honest-to-goodness letter in your own handwriting? Your wedding thank you notes? And have your kids written real letters? Well, now’s the time! Everyone should pick one loved one – friend or family member – and jot down some lovely thoughts to send via snail mail.

You could get all fancy and get some decorative stationery (or dig out that old stuff in the bottom of your desk drawer), but it isn’t necessary. Regular old lined paper is fine. What counts is that it’s hand-written and from the heart. Even if your little ones are just learning to write, you can help them write a few words and they can color the rest or adorn the paper with stickers. Your loved ones will be THRILLED to receive letters; promise!

6. Have a family movie night

You probably watch movies quite a bit, especially after the kids go to sleep – or maybe you pop one in for them while you’re off doing a few household chores. But at least once before the holidays hit, plan an actual family movie night where everyone sits down at the same time to watch a movie. Pick it out beforehand and if you’re the Pinterest type, find some family activities, crafts, food or other themed stuff to create even more ambiance.

Can’t agree on a movie? Turn it into a few family movie nights: Have one person pick an appropriate movie the first week and rotate next week until everyone has had a turn. Who knows, by then maybe you’ll have created a new weekly or monthly tradition!

7. Read a book for fun

For some people, this is a given. For others, there may always be other things going on where sitting down with a book gets thrown on the back burner. Make it a point to give yourself a half hour (or more) each night to yourself so you can read a new book. And have your kids read something that isn’t required reading, too. Head to the library together and pick out something interesting for everyone. Then, turn the TV off and get cozy with your books instead! BONUS: When your kids see YOU reading, it helps them learn that reading is important.

8. Take a family walk around your neighborhood

After dinner one night (maybe the one everyone helped pitch in for), round everyone up for a leisurely walk around the block. Take time to stop and smell the roses…OK, maybe not literally, but at least take time to notice the roses. And different types of trees. And the sky. And your neighbors.

Use this time to talk to each other, too. Point out different colors and objects to your preschooler, or sneak in some questions to your teen while you’re walking. Slow down and enjoy the evening!

9. Pick a no-screen day

Say what? No, seriously, turn off the TV, tablet, computer and phone for just one day. No morning cartoons, no evening news, no checking in on Facebook or reading emails (set an outgoing message if you must to let others know how to reach you if it can’t wait one day). You may need some help reminding yourself of this, so it’s OK if you have to stick a couple of Post-It notes on those screens.

Use the time instead to talk to each other, read a book, go outdoors – anything else. And then pick another day when you’re going to go screen-free again!

10. Clean out the junk

We know; it’s hard enough to keep the living room free of Legos and princess fairies; getting rid of stuff you don’t need seems like a pipe dream. But you can do it! Work on one room a week or month and comb through everything. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to pitch it – and if you don’t think you’ll use it in the next year, do the same (donate it and you’ll be crossing off #4 off this list, too!). Why is this super important? Well, of course cleaning up the clutter helps ease your mind, but then when the school projects and holiday gifts start coming in, you’ll have a place for them. Maybe.

Goldfish Swim School

At Goldfish Swim School, we display our integrity, compassion and trust when it comes to your family time here. Want to give your kids extraordinary results? Find a Goldfish Swim School location near you and give us a call today to sign up for classes! We’ll WOW you with our customer service and celebrate each victory!

Did we leave any “must-do” activities out? Leave a comment and let us know what’s on your Top 10 List of things to do with your family before holiday break!