Raising Richmond: What are you doing through New Year’s Eve?

If you have to watch your own kids for the rest of the year, here are some ideas for what to do when schools are closed.

This year my husband and I are faced with a mini-version of a big problem when we have to deal with when our daughter is in elementary school: What to do when schools are closed.

We knew in advance that her school closed for the last week and a half of the year.1 In a dream world, one of us would have that time at home, but we both work jobs where we have to balance our time off with company needs. And anyway, neither of us has that kind of paid time off available. 

Luckily we have some support: between the two of us someone can be home with her most of the holiday break, and we have family who can help out for the rest of the time, if needed. People we know are doing the same. If they can’t stay home, lots of grandparents are being called in as reinforcements, and some kids go to their usual after-school care or revert back to their previous day cares. I carefully saved two days of vacation time to use after Christmas, which, with holidays and a weekend, gives me five days at home.

“What to do when schools are schools” has two parts to it: 

  1. Who’s going to be home with our kid? 
  2. What can we do to keep her happy during all that time away from her beloved school?

Here are some suggestions if you’re in a similar situation and want to avoid cabin fever…

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The usual suspects

The Children’s Museum of Richmond is open every non-holiday (and even has a New Year’s Eve countdown to noon, which still makes me chuckle). Same with CMOR’s neighbor, the Science Museum of Virginia, with it’s New Year’s Eve party. If you haven’t been to the Maymont Nature & Visitor Center lately (which really should just advertise itself as a great floorspace for toddlers to climb things/occasionally notice turtles), there are alligators and seahorses. SEAHORSES!

Check out some classes

We’ve been thinking about a weekend activity to sign our daughter up for this winter. I was looking for a casual dance class, and Romp N’ Roll offers one that sounds good but is at a bad weekday time for us. I asked for and received a gift card for Romp N’ Roll so we can check it out (the monthly membership charges make me nervous, and I didn’t want to commit yet). Romp N’ Roll offers a free introductory class, and also has a three-hour Winter Camp for ages two to five with gym time, games, and music on December 29th and 30th (call either Richmond location to register).

If your kids are tired of the crummy cold weather, throw them into the pool for some winter swim lessons. My kid took two swim lessons this year, and when we went to our gym’s pool last weekend it was as if those never happened, so I’m guessing it might be the same for your little one. If so, Aqua-Tots offers year-round swimming lessons.2

Still into Christmas?

Just because Christmas is over doesn’t meant that everything isn’t still covered in lights. The people who dismantle the holidays are on vacation, too. Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden runs through January 12th and is nice post-Christmas when the crowds have thinned out. RVA on Ice runs through January 4th. Santa’s Christmas Miracle at the Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre runs through December 28th. Mame (which isn’t technically Christmas, but has a famous Christmas song in it. I think, anyway, I’m seeing it next month) runs through January 11th.

RVA Winter Puppetfest

There’s an RVA Winter Puppetfest? Yes, there is, apparently! And it sounds pretty cool. Family-friendly puppet show performances run from December 26th to January 3rd with stories of gingerbread men, turtles, and underpants-stealing squirrels.

Do something new

There are unlimited things we haven’t tried with our child yet, including bowling (Uptown Alley and Bowl America), Putt-Putt (even if the weather is chilly, there’s a giant arcade and Go-Karts), or going to the Metro Richmond Zoo. Odds are you have a list like that, too. Time to dust it off.

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What am I going to do during my five days off in a row? I’m going to try to do all those things I miss out on because my kid and I are never home together on weekdays, especially now that she prefers to go to school on the federal holidays that I have off. We can get good pastries and doughnuts for morning snacks, see a movie, take a class, take in some puppets, and schedule a play date with another little girl who would be as excited about her now-overstuffed dress-up clothes box. Realistically, I’ll keep it simple and try to have fun mornings and relaxing evenings. I just want to keep her happy because, honestly, my favorite thing about the holiday season is that I get to spend extra time with her.

Photo by: Puppets Off Broad Street

  1. But will not charge tuition during the full week it’s closed. IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR. DING DONG DING DONG. 
  2. This is not an endorsement for Romp N’ Roll or Aqua-Tots. I don’t have experience with either. Though since I did look up their websites, those two are the primary online ads I see now. 
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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

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