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Ask A Sacramento Expert: Keeping Your Kids Entertained On A Day Off From School

Stephanie Iott (Courtesy of Stephanie Iott)

Stephanie Iott, MA, LMFT
3750 Auburn Blvd., Suite C
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 677-7722

Stephanie Iott is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, providing counseling to couples, children and families. The Sacramento native and her husband are also the proud parents of three daughters - Emma, 16, Meagan, 13 and Mea, 7. "My job is to raise good adults," she says, and her focus is always on teaching the girls to be strong, responsible and capable.

Juggling the schedules of five busy people can be challenging, but the Iotts make spending time with the kids a priority. "We're kind of a do family," says Iott, "we do a little bit of everything together."

Iott notes that there are many resources for day-off ideas, with numerous books, websites, blogs and Pinterest collections dedicated to that very purpose.

Give Back To The Community

Volunteer work can be a fun and rewarding way for children to spend a day off, and there are numerous opportunities for kids and parents who want to volunteer for a cause that is important to them. One of the places where Iott and the girls donate their time is the Front Street Animal Shelter; their hard work at a recent shelter event helped more than 20 animals get adopted into permanent, loving homes. The older girls are part of a sewing club that makes pillows for Shriner's hospital patients and the family volunteers for various educational, community and environmental charities as well. Clubs are a great option as well, notes Iott, a self-proclaimed "Girl Scout cookie momster."

Related: Best Exhibits For Kids In Sacramento

Get Active

Whether they play on a team, jump around and cheer on the sidelines or take a hike during the weekend, physical activity is great for kids. In addition to being a lot of fun, being active helps children gain muscle tone, develop their hand-eye coordination, maintain a healthy body weight and burn off energy. Iott adds that sports activities, either on official teams or just as practice or play, can have a positive impact on a child's self-esteem. When family members join in, the positive results are even better.

Get Crafty

"Be creative with art projects," Iott suggests, who says she tries to think of things that cost little to no money. One idea that was a real hit with her kids began with a hike, where the girls found natural craft supplies. With Iott's help, they "hot glue gunned rocks together to make a Flintstone house." Even just walking around a craft supply store without purchasing anything can be fun, as they all find inspiration for projects they can create at home. Iott says that search engines like Google can be invaluable for project inspiration – just list a few potential ingredients you have on hand, like water, glue and vinegar, and some of the search results will be cool craft ideas.

Think Outside The Box

With computers, television, game consoles and smart phones, kids spend a lot of time staring at screens. While there are certainly benefits to those activities, many fun and imaginative activities are a lot less high-tech. Iott has hidden clues on Post-it notes around the house so the girls can have a scavenger hunt, and they take little outings or day trips "to find adventure." Each of the girls is responsible for coming up with one family meal idea each week, and even doing work around the house can be a valuable activity in more ways than one. If one of the kids wants a special or pricier item, like an iPod, Iott lets them earn money by doing additional household chores beyond the ones for which they are normally responsible.

Related: Cooking Ideas For Kids From A Sacramento Chef

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at

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