So. If you are a follower of this blog, you are likely somewhat more inclined than the average person to gamely put on your snow pants, bundle up the kids and build a snowman on cold winter days. Kids need to burn off energy, whether it’s a warm summer day in July or -8 in January. I’ll assume I’m preaching to the choir about this. But what about those days when you literally can’t get outside and still need to occupy the kids? Let’s face it, those days do exist and they suck. Severe, dangerous weather conditions, one sick child in bed while his healthy sibling is bouncing off the walls, or a time-sensitive work project that you need to get done from home?
I’ve certainly BTDT. Here are my 5 tips on How Not to Go Stir-Crazy When You Literally Can’t Go Outside (With Kids).
- Bring the outdoor activities in. Many outdoor games can be played indoors- like hopscotch! All you need is a tiled hallway, duct tape and a something small to throw. When I was on mat leave #2, I started following this great blog that offers up daily physical activity ideas for preschoolers. Saved my sanity on many occasions!
- Let them be monkeys. Sure, arts and crafts and dress up are great ideas for indoor days, but they can get boring quick (and I fully admit I am not a crafty, role-playing kinda mom). Kids need to run and jump, too. We invested in a mini indoor trampoline this winter, and it allows the kids to burn off steam in a safe way. Couch cushions and pillows arranged on the floor can also serve as a crash pad of sorts, though be warned the wear and tear will be significant (I’ve simply come to the realization that I can have nice things, or a home where kids can be kids- just not both at the same time).
- Extend seasonal toys. My kids love our backyard sandbox in the summer. Throw in some river stones, shells, Popsicle sticks and various pails and shovels and they will occupy themselves for a good hour. As we were clearing out the yard during our fall clean-up, I decided that rather than put the sand/water table away in storage, I’d bring it inside for those long winter days. We carved out a small space for it in our unfinished laundry room so we wouldn’t have to worry about mess, and brought in some of their water and sand toys. You can even bring in seasonal items like pinecones, evergreen branches or even a bucket of snow.
- Have a dance party. You don’t need a fancy video-game system to do this. If you have a laptop, iPad, whatever, fire up YouTube and play DJ. My kids love dancing to my teenage favourites, such as Spice Girls and Aqua (remember this gem?) and current pop stars Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. They’re pretty cute to watch, and the best part is, you can sneak in some web surfing of your own on a different tab. Although, sometimes I can’t help but join in the fun.
- Clean. If I sit still, my kids will glom onto me like barnacles on a tugboat. And I’m not talking about sweet, calm, quiet cuddly moments (those, I love!). I’m talking about tiny elbows digging into my chest, trying to climb me, fighting about who gets to sit on my lap…and sometimes, a mom is just touched out! I find if I am moving around doing stuff, they either a) lose interest or b) want to help too. Cleaning is a great activity because it’s never-ending. At 2.5 and 5 years old, they are at ages where they can help with certain tasks. I can hand them a squeeze bottle of natural cleaner, a few paper towels and have them clean all the baseboards in the house.
Hopefully, your stuck indoors days will be limited, but like a good Girl Scout, you should always be prepared (and if that also means being fully stocked up on wine, so be it).