Oh cold-weather mommies, I feel your pain right now. I really do. Not only do we have to watch the summer sunshine fade into 4:30 pm sunsets and frigid temperatures, we also have to find ways to entertain our offspring without the aid of outdoor spaces. It’s not easy, and I’ll be the first to admit that our TV sees a lot of extra action between November and April.
My oldest two are in school full-time now so the burden of daytime entertainment falls squarely on the shoulders of their teachers these days (yay, public schools!). However my littlest man is a recent walker which quickly transitioned to all out terrorist, so the need to figure out some indoor activities is once again rearing it’s ugly head. If you too are stuck in the winter child-rearing doldrums, check out this list of some fun ideas to keep you and your little ones engaged through all of the snowy months!
13 Indoor Activities for the Winter Months
1. Not too many of us have room to install a ball pit in our homes, but aside from being bacteria magnets in public places, they’re a great way for kids to get their crazies out. Try inflating a blow-up kiddie pool in your house and then filling it with these balls (available from Target as well as a range of other retailers). When they’re done playing, store the balls in the bag and deflate the pool. It’s as easy as that!
2. How about bringing some of their favorite outdoor activities inside? It’s easy to make your own hopscotch mat, so when they need to jump around a bit (and seriously, when don’t they need to do that?!), just unroll and get playing!
3. There’s snow on the ground. Again. You think you remember that grass used to be green but it’s been so long since something living was growing outside that you’re not really sure anymore. Well, you know what? It’s time to embrace that white stuff and take the play outdoors! Check out this fun tutorial on making colored “glass” out of ice, food coloring and water balloons. The kids can take turns hiding and finding them or you can create a treasure hunt game with points and prizes assigned to each color. Or you can just send them outside, either way, they’re playing!
4. Speaking of the fluffy white stuff, here’s another fun activity that we do with our kids every year – food coloring and squirt bottles. My oldest two boys always request red and green so they can make Mario and Luigi snow, but this mom gave her kids the rainbow so they could literally create one for themselves. Plastic squirt bottles (available from Michael’s) are a great way to store the colored liquid, but if you don’t have those on hand any old spray bottles will do.
5. Build a fort! If you have the time, you can make it super duper fabulous like this amazing DIY teepee, but if not, go for broke with pillows, chairs, blankets and cushions. Kids can get lost in a fort for hours, and if you give them some direction on what to play (Explorers! Princesses! Peter Pan and the Lost Boys! Mario & Luigi! Yup, them again), they’ll have that much more fun.
6. Craft sticks + paper plates + balloons = indoor ping pong. Brilliant!
7. Kids love cupcakes (true story). Kids love Mr. Potato Head (also a true story). Combine the two into a cupcake Mr. Potato Head activity for a fun way to unleash their inner artist. Sure, they’ll be all hopped up on sugar when they’re done and you’ll be all, “What now? They won’t stop climbing the ceiling!”, but just move on to another activity on the list for Phase 2 and know the inevitable sucrose-induced crash will lead to quiet soon enough.
8. Remember not too long ago when the leaves were brilliantly tinged with all the colors of autumn? I know, dig deep into the happy place in your mind, it’s there. To help everyone remember, try using some craft time to make these fun trees with cotton swabs and paint with the kids. They’ll love it and the cotton ball applicators will assure no one fights over who gets the best paintbrush.
9. Spies are cool so try turning your boring hallway into a super spy training zone. Zigzag streamers to create a maze that kids need to make their way through without touching. It’s like the limbo, only bendy-er.
10. Here’s a great idea for winter or summer break. Make your kids an “I’m Not Bored” jar and fill it with slips of paper with age-appropriate activities on them. Some examples could be: paint a portrait of your best friend, play hide and seek, build a fort, construct a building out of toilet paper rolls. Try thinking of things you know your kids would love to do and stuff them all in there!
11. Children have a lot of energy, caged children have even more. Try making this simple and fun physical activity cube and start rolling! Kids will love hearing whether they need to spin in a circle, flap their arms like a bird or jump five times next. You can add any activity you think your kids will like, and set it all to music to have yourself a crazy dance party!
12. Night bowling - how fun is this?! I know the last thing on your mind right now is keeping the little ones up late playing games, but with the sun setting before most of us even consider it nighttime, you’ll have plenty of time to play this super fun game. Creating it is easy, it’s no more than empty water bottles and glow sticks, and your kids will be guaranteed to keep asking to play another string.
13. Grab that discarded pool noodle, wipe away your tears of winter sorrow and saw that sucker in half. A pool noodle is great for flotation, but a dismembered pool noodle is even better as a marble race track! Attach the top ends to the stairs and let your little Nascar enthusiasts go!
What activities do you do with your kids to make it through the winter months?