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5 Chronic Illness-Friendly Holiday Activities to Try With Your Kids

The holidays should be chock-full of special traditions and memories with your kids, right? But how is that possible when just sitting upright on the couch takes all your effort? This year, we sat down as a family and curated a bucket list of attainable, realistic activities we could do together to make the season special. If you, like me, are desperate to find ways to make the holidays special in spite of chronic illness, here are just a few ideas to kick-start your celebrations.


1. S
ing carols around the tree.

If your kids are like mine, they’re likely big on traditions. And by “traditions,” I mean those things you did one time that they loved and latched onto. We all sat around the Christmas tree at my parents’ house one year as my dad played the guitar and we sang carols. My kids absolutely ate it up! So this year they begged to make it an official tradition and put it on our bucket list. Really, this is the perfect low-key activity. It doesn’t take much to sit around the tree — even if you don’t have the energy to sing yourself, it’s so peaceful to listen as others do. And don’t worry if no one plays an instrument to accompany the singing; a CD playing in the background or a cappella singing are just as magical too!


2.
Read holiday books together.

We have a small collection of holiday books that only come out once a year. We’ve collected the books through the years as the kids have grown up, and because they’re not out year-round, they seem extra special. They still get excited when I pull out the book bag and they begin to dig through it. Reading is a wonderful pastime for those of us low on energy reserves. You can curl up on the couch with your kids and read by the light of the Christmas tree for a truly magical evening. Or, if reading aloud is too difficult, ask the kids to take turns reading the books to you. They’ll likely enjoy the role reversal! Don’t have a stockpile of holiday books? You could see about borrowing some from the library or from a friend.


3.
Sip a holiday drink and take a driving tour of the lights.

One of the things my kids enjoy most is driving around to look at Christmas lights. It’s fortunate for me, actually, because it takes very little effort to climb into the car and look out the window — and to them, it’s one of the most magical activities of the holiday season! To make it extra special, sometimes we fill travel mugs with warm hot chocolate, apple cider or some other special drink to sip as we drive around and enjoy the sights of the season.


4.
Have a holiday movie marathon.

Most of us have a handful of favorite holiday movies, and we count the days until we can watch them again! This is the perfect way to spend an afternoon even if you are having a bad day. You could curl up on the couch together to watch some movies — or, better yet, make a pile of blankets and pillows and have a movie marathon from the comfort of a mini-fort. And, hey, if you happen to fall asleep, no worries!


5.
Make “cheater” holiday cookies.

My kids love to bake holiday cookies, but on bad days, baking is harder than running a marathon. I’m just not equal to the task! By the time I haul out all the ingredients, measure, mix, bake and clean up, I can hardly function. But there are easier ways to create holiday cookie magic: namely, cookie mixes. I know, it’s not quite the same, but a good dose of realism will help you get through the holiday season much better than unrealistic expectations. So, grab a package of that cookie mix, add in the couple of ingredients needed (some mixes only take water!), and throw those babies in the oven. With far less energy expenditure, you’ll have filled the house with the amazing scent of holiday baking and made a special treat with
your kids.

Getty image via corradobarattaphotos.