Whether your kids have a cold or it is cold, heart-pounding playtime — the good kind — isn’t always possible outdoors during inclement weather.
In the winter months, moms like me can have a tough time keeping their busy kids from getting bored, especially when said kids are used to living it up covered in mud.
Too wet to go out
And too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house.
We did nothing at all.
– Dr. Seuss
Rather than just sitting there wishing for something to do, here are some out-of-the-box ideas for your Thing One and Thing Two:
1. Blanket Forts
Best made in low-traffic areas and avoiding blockading the entrance ways (because neither rain nor snow will keep the mailman away), blanket forts create a secret world within familiar walls. Simply connect sturdy pieces of furniture, such as chairs, by draping blankets over them. Flashlights, goldfish crackers, a good stack of library books and secret knocks make fort living even more fun.
2. Roller Skating
With groovy music playing, turn your concrete basement floor into a roller skating rink. You know your kids like to run in circles through the kitchen, living room and dining room. Wheels will wear them out even quicker! If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can dust off your own skates and teach them hot numbers such as Disco Duck and the Hokey Pokey. (Shh…. I never used headgear and knee pads when we used to do this as kids, but you may want to strongly consider it to reduce the injury factor. Remember : Potty emergency or not, absolutely NO skates on the steps!)
3. Bathtub Snow
Fresh, beautiful snow is an insult to injury for kids who are stuck indoors recovering from the flu. A solution? Bring the snow to them! It will take a little bit of work on your part, but, using a five gallon bucket, scoop up several loads of snow. Leaving the drain open, on that off chance it just might get covered and you have to be the one to open it when playtime is over, dump the snow into the bathtub. Break out the beach toys so that your kids can carve sculptures and cities out of snow. Sand molds work beautifully with this medium. If you care at all about your bathroom floor, you may choose to put down some towels as knee cushions, topped with a waterproof painter’s tarp. Hot chocolate with marshmallows is the afterward preferred treat.
4. Swinging Indoors
Baby swings are often hung in interior thresholds, but older children can safely swing so long as the frame of the door has thick, wooden support (not plaster!) and the swing is very securely bolted into place. (Admittedly, I am stealing this idea from my dad. He installed a swing for us kids in the threshold of our kitchen. I can still remember watching the snow falling outside of our windows as the sun went down, while listening to the Carpenter’s Christmas album.) Be sure there is plenty of room in front and behind the reach of the swings. Hallways are perfect.
5. Nerf War
Slightly safer than rubber band guns and way more fun, playing with Nerf Guns is one of my favorite ways to roughhouse without leaving a mark… from getting shot, at least. Best of all, starting an all-out, sweaty, indoor war is easy. Simply start shooting squishy foam darts (mine glow in the dark) at your kids while they’re trying to play video games. Bring it!
I hope you enjoy these ideas, and look forward to hearing some of your own!
One last thing — All of these activities are a million times more fun when performed costumed in items from your post-Halloween raid of the dollar store combined with the clothes mommy and daddy used to wear in their former lives.
Follow author Sarah Joy on Twitter here: @mrsalbrecht