Here in the northern hemisphere, winter is upon us and no matter where you live, there are likely to be at least a few days when a battle is raging outside your door and it looks like Mother Nature is kicking humanity in the backside. These are the days when rain, sleet, snow, and ice are all better appreciated from the warm side of a window, so I’d advise having a versatile toolkit on hand in order to avert the unbearable pain of being inundated with howls of boredom from your kids.
- Let it be a (healthy) grazing day. Make sure there are plenty of crackers, sliced fruit & veggies, and dips or spreads on hand for your hungry beasts.
- Let them bake. Yes, there will be a mess, but be brave. After carefully evaluating their age-appropriate abilities, set out the ingredients & tools needed to make a simple recipe (Banana bread? Cookies? Breadsticks?)
- Cookbooks. Yep, I said cookbooks. I keep in my arsenal a variety of kid-oriented cookbooks (lots of how-to pictures) that my ten-year-old loves to peruse while contemplating her next kitchen disasterpiece.
- Collage! Yes, painting, drawing, and clay are often at hand, but seriously, making collages has to be the single most popular yucky-day-inside-activity at our house. Just clear the table and pull out a few old magazines, some glue, random stickers, and safety scissors. Start with a sheet of construction paper, poster board, a cardboard box, or any sketchbook paper you may have on hand. This is a great way to promote visual storytelling and you may be surprised with the results.
- If your kid is feeling ambitious, be sure to have Modge Podge on hand. I think the possibilities are endless. http://modpodgerocksblog.com/2012/08/20-easy-mod-podge-craft-projects-for.html
- Believe me, nobody is too old for storytime. While your kids are busy spreading bean dip on the wall or collaging the cat, play an audiobook for them. Booksshouldbefree.com has a boatload of free audiobooks just waiting for you to discover. Besides, what better way to introduce your children to amazing classics like Little Women or Tom Sawyer?
If your kids are into reading all by themselves, it pretty much goes without saying that a day inside the house means the perfect escape into a book, which is a win-win situation. Really. I keep a few well-reviewed books on hand for the day one of my kids (ten-year-old) proclaims boredom or a desperate need for a read (the teenager, no lie). Reluctance to take the suggested read in hand soon evaporates when you read the first chapter out loud. I swear, this approach has yet to fail me, and I have very contrary children. Forget house chores and homework for the day; that book could change their life! http://www.booksshouldbefree.com
- Music is a staple in our house, whether it’s Pandora, Spotify, or our extensive and varied library. There is no shortage of music for every mood or the chance to hear something new to stretch young ears. Also, music is the perfect accompaniment to cooking and collage.
- Disco! Move the furniture! Turn down the lights and turn up the music! Shake your booty and dance with the kids. It’s a blast and absolutely called for especially if cabin fever is starting to hit.
- I’m not a huge fan of video games, and while I acknowledge there are myriad thoughtful and engaging games for kids using media, my default is to dig out a favorite board or card game. Now is the time to stock up on a few new ones too. Do your research! Family-oriented kid-friendly games are created every year. Luckily, experts review them so you can find the shoe that fits your foot. Sure it’s easy to order off of Amazon, but chances are, there is a lovely little game shop not too far from your hood where you can get some great games and wonderful customer service. Don’t be shy either. Ask them questions to help find the perfect game for a really, really rainy day in your neck of the woods.
Last, but not least, take it easy. Slow down. Make cocoa or tea. Stretch and relax a little yourself. When you cut yourself and the kids some slack, everyone is going to have a better time making the most out of a day indoors together. Enjoy!