The sun did not shine. It was too cold to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, snowy day (to paraphrase Dr. Seuss). If you have read The Cat in the Hat, then you know how that day turned out! Don’t let your home get turned upside down when the weather doesn’t cooperate with heading outside. Here are some suggestions for enjoying your forced retreat indoors.
Getting through the day
1. If your child is accustomed to using schedules at home and school don’t forget to put one in place for an unexpected day at home. A child who benefits from structure can need it even more on a day when everything is topsy turvy and the usual schedule doesn’t apply. Having the comfort of a picture schedule, the reassuring routines and familiar activities to rely on can make the difference between a meltdown and smooth transitions.
2. If your child is able to handle a less structured atmosphere then let your routine relax a bit. Stay in pajamas longer – or even make it a pajama day! When snow days start piling up you can put some routine back in to the day. While an occasional lazy day with not much of a routine can be a mini stay-cation, too many days without routine can wear on everyone. Just keeping a list of things that must be done every day can help keep enough structure to help some children stay on track.
3. When making a schedule for the day be sure to allow time for free play (child’s choice), parent time, family time and alone time. When everyone is cooped up together it’s important to remember that even the littlest ones need a little time to retreat and re-energize on their own. Provide a list of “approved activities” for children to choose from or ask your kids what they want to do. You might be surprised with the ideas they come up with!
4. Relax your expectations for the day. It’s perfectly fine if you spend the day playing and the laundry doesn’t get done or if your child just can’t focus on the homework due next week. When there’s novelty in the air (or snow drifting past the window!) it can be hard to stick with what “should” be done. Relax. It will get done tomorrow.
Activities for Indoor Fun With the Kids
1. Snuggle on the couch and watch a movie you’ve not had time for.
2. Read out loud, share picture books, listen to audio books together.
3. Put on music and sing, dance, jump and shout! Share the music you grew up with, listen to different kinds of music, make your own music with homemade instruments or just bang on a pot, clang some pan lids or tap spoons together!
4. Write a silly story: One person starts with an opening sentence. Everyone takes turns adding a sentence until the story is complete. Do this out loud with Mom or Dad acting as scribe for the story. When it’s finished the kids can draw illustrations to go with the story!
5. Have an indoor picnic: Involve the kids in making a menu and packing the food up to take it to another part of the house for a picnic. Pretend you are on a hike and walk around the whole house to find the perfect picnic spot. Spread a blanket and enjoy!
6. Make an obstacle course, play outdoor games indoors, do Olympic training. Use furniture, cushions, painters tape on the floor, blankets over chairs or tables, to make an obstacle course for the kids to maneuver. Use the tape to make hopscotch on the floor and use beanbags or checkers for stones. Do strength and balance training with some simple exercises or your video game console.
7. Build a fort! Use your chairs, blankets, clothespins or tape to create a tent. Add tunnels by putting chairs in a line. If you plan ahead and save some big boxes you can cut out windows and let the kids decorate the boxes then put them together to build a hide out, connecting to make tunnels and separate rooms if you have enough boxes!
8. Make a craft. Cut out snowflakes, make cards for each other, make placecards for the dinner table, make a collage picture,
9. Play a game. Go through the closet and pull out those board games you haven’t played in years or maybe haven’t opened. Teach your children a simple card game like War. Show older children how to play old fashioned solitaire.
10. Involve the kids in meal preparation. Take time to let your children participate in making meals at whatever level they are able. Let them experiment in the kitchen; taste raw ingredients, use measuring tools, mix foods together, decorate baked goods, and sample finished products. Find a new recipe and make a new treat or meal.
11. Play on the internet with new websites, games and activities. There are so many options, many of them free. Take a little time to find something new, research a topic your child is passionate about and find new resources, find the answer to one of your child’s tough questions or play a game together.
12. Skype! Use Skype to connect with family and friends when you can’t get there yourself! My children love to use Skype to chat with their friends and family, sharing conversation, showing things they have made and talking about not much of anything at all. The “face time” is great for staying connected when cold and/or distance keeps you apart.