It’s winter. If where you live is anything like where I live, it’s been winter and it’s going to be winter for a while. We are not winter sports people. I will take a book in front of a fire with a blanket and something hot to drink, over running around in the snow and cold doing things that make klutzy people like me get hurt. This post is over a year old now but nobody has read it so I’m updating it just for all you lovely new readers.
If you live somewhere that it is not winter, we may not be able to stay friends. I am mostly joking.
Seriously though, keeping busy, energetic kids occupied for long stretches indoors can be challenging, but here’s a list of ways to keep them busy and yourself from going totally bonkers.
*Fill your kitchen sink halfway, add some cups, spoons, bath tub toys, and a toddler. Maybe throw a towel on the floor in case the water spills. Kitchen sink water table.
*Let your kids bathe in the middle of the day instead of before bed (if bedtime is their bath time) and let that bath go on as long as they’ll stay in it. It’s a good way to kill an hour.
*Paint the snow. Food coloring + water + spray bottles from the dollar store = snow paint. I did this in elementary school during recess because this is how we roll in Canada.
*Play with your kids. I know that sounds like a no brainer, but as a stay at home mom it’s easy for me to get into a habit of doing things around the house and leaving the kids to their own devices. So I remind myself now and then to just go sit in the middle of the floor in the play room and wait to see what happens. Or pick up a book and start reading it out loud – kids will come running.
*Go to Value Village or Goodwill or a consignment place or the dollar store and have a treasure hunt. Give each kid a couple bucks and see what they find. It will be hideous and awful.
*Make a treasure hunt with clues and a prize at the end. Or just tell your kids you hid candy for each of them somewhere in the house. And I’m not talking those good for you organic suckers from the whole food aisle. Real candy that they will be excited to find. And for goodness sakes don’t eat it all first.
*Make sensory bins. Little kids love sensory bins. Beads. Safety scissors with construction paper. Rice or dry beans. Cotton balls. Dry pasta. Things they can sink their grubby little hands into and manipulate.
*Give your kid a pile of disposable cups. Plastic is best, because it stacks better for towers. If they are old enough, teach them the cup game.
*Make forts. Good ones. Or just tell them they can tear apart the furniture to make a fort while you look at pictures of sand and beaches on Pinterest.
*Bake something. I prefer things that come out of a box and call for a cup of water and an egg. Done.
*Watch a lot of movies. We’re all doing it. No shame.
*Give your (older) kids a screwdriver and maybe a small hammer for prying, and let them take apart some old electronic something that is collecting dust.
*If you have the space and funds, try finding a small plastic slide or climber for inside your house. I found one for $13 at a garage sale that we used for years.
*Go for timbits. I don’t know about you, but when I hit up Timmy’s with my kids it’s usually via the drive thru. Now and then it’s nice to go in with my chaotic little circus and sit with the clowns while they bounce around eating their timbits and drinking their milk.
*Go to the zoo. The animals are there all year. Some of them come out more when there aren’t crowds of people around their habitats.
*Go to the library.
*Play date. So many of us get stuck in the rut of staying home because it’s so cold and so much work to pack up the kids and go anywhere. Or if you’re like me, you’re an introvert and you can totally live on 1 play date a season without feeling lonely or bored. Maybe break out of the funk and find another totally-over-winter mom and her bored kid(s) to play with.
*Cardboard. Tape up cereal or other food boxes and let the kids build with them.
*Obstacle course. Just use things you have around the house. Climb under chairs, hop through hoola hoops, whatever. I made one in our basement once that the kids played with for 2 hours. They just kept changing it up on their own and making new challenges.
*Teddy bear picnic.
*Actual picnic…on the living room floor.
*Get packing paper or a roll of easel paper from Ikea, and cover your kitchen table with it. The kids can color the table.
*Pizza party. Not a fancy pizza party. Cheap pizza served on sheets of paper towel. With juice boxes if you’re feeling really ambitious.
*Computer time. My 4 year old Olivier, loves Starfall.com. My other boys did too at that age. He thinks he’s being really grown up when I let him play on my computer. I just love that he is learning while playing. We pay the $35/year for the extended “More Starfall” membership but even the basic site is great to start. (No, Starfall.com did NOT pay me to advertise their awesomeness. But they can totally cut me a cheque any time.)
*Video games. Yeah yeah. Whatever. I don’t even care. We have rules about video games and all that. And our big kids love them. They are always pretty pleased when they come home from school and get video game time. It’s not like I can tell them to go jump in a snowbank. And they’ve been learning all day anyway. Tiny brains need down time too.
*Pray for spring. That’s my current strategy. Because all of these things are just a lot of work and I want to go for a walk in the sun without getting frostbitten or slipping on ice. Is that really too much to ask?
So uh, how do you stay busy in the winter? I need more ideas over here.
copyright (c) Jenna Pelias 2014 // all rights reserved