Home for the Holidays
After three or four months jam-packed with school activities, soccer games, dance classes and recitals, the holiday season can come as a shock to some parents. "My kids are home now with nothing to do...oh my!"

Faced with having your children unleashed on the household with idle time is a scary thought. Never fear. Here are some healthy and fun ideas to keep them busy, and fit.

Ice skating, skiing, sledding and snow boarding are great ways to enjoy the time off, that is, if you're in a region of the country that has such things. Probably the easiest and most economical activity is ice skating, since many cities have indoor rinks or seasonal outdoor skating areas, especially around the holidays. If you don't have the proper equipment, most slopes and rinks have items available for rent.

Roller skating, swimming, basketball, ping pong and pool are a few indoor activities to try over the holiday break. If there's a roller rink nearby, then it's easy enough to find a place to skate. Some health clubs and YMCAs will sell day passes or trial memberships.

Winter is a great time to hit the trail on horseback. Stables that offer horseback riding are far less busy in the winter months, and some offer great discounts.

Check if the zoo, aquarium, planetarium or museums have discounted admissions for kids and any special activities. Many art museums now have kids' activities such as art scavenger hunts.

A "holiday hike" around your neighborhood to see all the seasonal lights is a simple, fun and affordable family outing. Make it a game: create a map to follow, and rate each display. When you're done, come back for hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Pop in an exercise video or some music and exercise with your children. Make it a dance party and see who can be more creative; just let loose and dance.

For more ideas, contact your local parks and recreation department. Many times they offer special programs and activities during holiday breaks. Most of all, enjoy this quality time with your children.