New Year's is closing in, and the kids have been out of school for a week. In the next few days, the shiny newness of the Christmas toys will begin to wear off, and you may find yourself wondering just how you're going to keep those young ones entertained.
Brian Dennis offers a few suggestions.
"We've got two clubs running right now," he said.
Dennis, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County, said the clubhouses in south Billings and Lockwood are open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. They're great places for kids to come and learn, play and burn off excess energy, he said.
The Boys & Girls Club typically runs four clubhouses across the county, but with school out, only the sites in south Billings and Lockwood are open. The clubhouses are open to all children, including teenagers.
"It's a program for any kid, regardless of their situation," Dennis said.
Staff members are happy to answer questions and can be reached at 245-4457. More information also can be found online at begreatyellowstone.org.
Downtown, the Parmly Billings Library is hopping with kids during the break.
"They can come in here and look for books," said Cindy Patterson, children's librarian. "They can come in and play on our interactive word wall."
The word wall, a recent installation, has been a popular feature, Patterson said.
Traditional story time is on hiatus until winter break is over. In its place, the library is screening children's movies daily at 10:30 a.m.
The children's section of the library has a bank of computers on which kids can play games. They also have an entire section of children's DVDs for checkout.
"And books are always good," Patterson said.
The Billings Family YMCA is running Holiday Care, the winter-break version of its after-school program. The YMCA offers swimming, a kids gym and climbing wall for members and guests. Registration for Holiday Care is required.
For single-day activities, children can come as guests of Y members for free.
On New Year's Eve, Ahead of the Curve Child Development Center and Kids Klubhouse will host an overnight party for children 5 and older. Parents drop their kids off at Kids Klubhouse at 3242 Hesper Road between 6 and 7 p.m. on Friday and pick them up between 7 and 8 a.m. on Saturday.
At the party, kids will eat pizza, play on the Kids Klubhouse indoor playground and watch movies.
The cost is $50 per child, and proceeds benefit the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1634. For more information, call 652-8953.
If getting out of the house just isn't an option, there's plenty to do indoors to break up the routine, say local childcare providers.
Pick an area at the house, set down a stack of old magazines or newspapers and put the kids to work with a pair of kid scissors and a glue stick. They can create collages, build figurines or paste out notes.
Homemade play dough is another popular and relatively easy option. And it's something that's fun to cut with scissors.
Another option is building the classic home fort with blankets and furniture. Send the kids inside with a basket of books they've checked out from the library, along with a few flashlights.
If the snow forecast for the end of this week begins to fall, send the kids out to build snowmen with spray bottles filled with food color-dyed water. They can build their creations and then color them with the spray bottles.
The idea is that a little creativity and planning can go a long way to fight vacation boredom, they said.