Basics: Play dough, crayons, washable markers, scissors, coloring books, Scotch tape, colored paper, lots of glue
Better: Oak tag in many colors, tracing paper, rolling pins and cookie cutters for play dough, ink stamps, large sheets of white and colored paper, lanyard, stickers, beads, stretchy string for jewelry making, felt, glitter pens, box of ice cream sticks for building (extra glue)
More elaborate: Dress-up clothes, wigs, face paint, puppets, string, ready-made creativity kits to make just about anything
4. Smile often. Doesn't it make you feel great when you walk into a room and someone smiles at you? Let your kids know you are happy to have them around with a great big smile when they walk into the room.
5. Brainstorm. Have you run out of ideas of things to do? There is no reason this has to fall solely on your shoulders. Kids are great brainstormers, so see what they have to say.
6. Create a parent/child book club. Depending on the age of your child, you can read together, or buy two of the same book and read it together. Take the time to talk about your book, and maybe invite other families to join you.
7. Slow down and be present. Hone in on your listening skills. Make eye contact with your children when they are telling you a story and don't let your minds wander — they can tell when you aren't really listening. When you're with your children, try to be really with them.
LINDA RICHMAND, certified Empowerment and Life Coach, and mother of three (ages 18, 16 and 10), coaches adults to move forward in their lives, parents who want to empower their children to be independent thinkers, and parents whose children have challenges to be effective advocates for their children. She is a member of IPEC (Institute for Professional Empowerment Coaching), ICF (International Coaching Federation), and CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder). She leads parent and goal achievement workshops throughout Westchester and meets with clients individually at offices in Chappaqua and at Full Circle Family Care in White Plains. She can be reached at (914) 238-1041; www.CoachRichmand.com.