Raise your hand if you love routine? Now raise your other hand if your kids love routine? I know from first hand experience that the week of Thanksgiving can be a stressful week for families, and while the reasons are numerous, I think one big factor is the abrupt change in pretty much everyone’s routine. This change can be even more extreme for everyone when kids find themselves outside out of their home (e.g. traveling for the holiday) or have guests hanging out in their home.
Because the truth is kids like routine. They’re going to wake up when they’re used to waking up. They’re going to be ready for snacks when they’re always ready for snacks. Sometimes, as much as we try and want to, we can’t keep them on their routine though. We also can’t assume that everyone else we’re celebrating the holiday with is going to jump right into our kids’ routine.
So, it’s really helpful to have a few go-to activities for your kids to do in those hours when their routine isn’t meshing up with how the days’ schedule is unfolding.
They can be simple, like new coloring pages and crayons or a secret stash of legos (we have such a secret stash that we only bust out when we’re on vacation- usually when we’re staying in a hotel room). I made a couple dozen of these Turkey Cupcakes several years ago before we had kids, and stored the idea away as one I knew I’d like to try again with my kids, whenever we had them, and whenever they were old enough.
My kids are 3 years old and 1 year old, and I knew they were ready to at least attempt decorating these cupcakes. I knew they probably weren’t going to look like something you’d see on Pinterest by the time they were finished, but the entire project, for the most part, would be edible (so I wouldn’t have to worry if they put something in their mouth), easy to clean up, and inexpensive- all I had to buy for it was a box of cake mix and some candy corn. AND, the best part, this is a TWO part activity, so it helps pass the time TWICE. Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean…
What do you need for this project:
- Cake Mix (and whatever the mix calls for … like eggs and oil)
- Cupcake pan
- Chocolate Icing
- Candy corn + assorted candy (we raided their left over halloween candy)
- Make + bake cupcakes! And LET YOUR KIDS HELP. They may not be ready to crack eggs, but give them the whisk or let them operate the mixer by pulling levers or pushing buttons. They probably can dump the bag of cake mix into the mixing bowl if you cut it open for them and help direct the bag. Even my one year old can place cupcake liners into the cupcake pan, so he and my three year old did that part together. And older kids can, with guidance and oversight of course, ladle batter into the cupcake pan.
- Let cupcakes cool – overnight even! This is what I did. We made the cupcakes in the afternoon, and we decorated them the following morning. See what I mean… TWO PART ACTIVITY.
- Decorate cupcakes. This is where you need to put your perfectionist bend to the side. Let them play while they decorate. The purpose of this activity is not to have perfect cupcakes when you’re done. The purpose of this activity is MULTI-purpose: have fun, engage with your kids, spend quality time together, and give them something to do in those windows when they’re feeling the effects of their routine being thrown off.
Tips for SUCCESS:
- Make sure your icing is room temperature and one that easily spreads. I made mine from scratch and wished I’d just picked up a $1 jar of it from the store, because my decadent chocolate, cream cheese icing that I threw together right before we iced the cupcakes didn’t spread so well. And I think it was just too thick and too cold still. ALSO, because I used cream cheese frosting, I had to make room for the cupcakes to stay in the fridge. You’re not going to want to do this when you also have all of the Thanksgiving food in the fridge. So, just use the store-bought stuff that can sit on the counter without worrying about it spoiling.
- Change their clothes. We have “eating” clothes which are clothes that are stained-beyond-saving or a little too small that we keep in a bin. When we eat food that I know is going to stain- like red pasta sauce or chocolate ice cream, I have the kids go to the bin and pick out “eating clothes.” They also wear them when we paint or do a messy art project. So, change into clothes like that. Don’t have them decorate cupcakes in the clothes you want to take Thanksgiving pictures in. That’ll just make the whole experience stressful, which is counter-productive.
- Use what you have to decorate. The only candy I bought for this project was candy corn. We used skittles, sweet-tarts, and cereal to make eyeballs on our turkeys- all stuff I either pulled from the pantry or our kids’ leftover Halloween candy.
Do you have a go-to activity for your kids to do when their schedule is thrown off? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Until next time,
P.S. This post does contain affiliate links, but my opinions are always my own. Thanks for clicking through!