Winter in Illinois is challenging enough, but when you add energetic children into the mix, it really gets interesting. Of course there are many afternoons spent building snowmen and sledding, but there are even more days when it is just too cold to go outside. If you don’t want your child to become a TV junkie, you will need to come up with some fun activities to keep them entertained. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
The Famous “Living Room Tent”
While not quite as much fun as freezing to death building a snow fort, the living room tent has its own unique charm. Its easy and fun, and a guaranteed hit with kids of most ages. Grab a few dining room chairs, some blankets, snacks and a flashlight. Half the fun is constructing the tent itself, so make sure you let your kids help you. The more blankets you pile on, the darker the inside of your tent will be, which is a plus unless you have a child who is afraid of the dark. A flashlight usually takes care of that problem, otherwise you can create a “window” of light with your blanket arrangement.
The trick to the living room tent is to evenly distribute the weight of the blankets over the tops of the chairs so that your tent doesn’t sag in the middle, which leaves you with very little room inside. Of course the more times your tent collapses, the more laughter there will be, which is always a bonus. Bring a pet or two inside with you, and the laughter automatically doubles.
Bake the Day Away
Nothing cheers up a cold winter day better than the smell of something yummy baking in the oven. Start your day of baking off right with a little mental pep talk. It is going to get messy! Baking with children always is. So resign yourself to a little mess, and save yourself the headache of trying to keep each of your children neat and clean. Let them measure the flour, even if means that more ends up on their faces than in the bowl. So your three year old cracked the eggs and dripped most of it onto her clothes? They’ll wash! The twins had a contest to see who could toss the most chocolate chips into the batter from across the room? That’s what brooms are for. If you are mentally prepared to have a little chaos with your cookies, you’ll all have a much better time.
Make your favorite memories come alive with a special scrapbook project the whole family can be a part of. Older children can cut out photos while the younger ones paste them on the page. Scrapbooking doesn’t have to bust your budget even though there are a lot of pricey products out there. Start saving greeting cards, invitations and calendars; these will give you plenty of free pictures to use.
Speaking of greeting cards, this is another way to get your family’s creative juices flowing. Card-making and envelope kits are available, or you can just use a blank set as a template. Use photos, stickers and other scrapbooking decals to create unique cards and envelopes that all your family and friends will love.
There is no end to the variety of crafts you and your kids can get into. Quilting, crocheting, cross-stitching, painting, rubber-stamping, jewelry-making…the list goes on and on. Take a trip down the crafts aisle at your local Wal-Mart and get inspired.
Redecorate and Reorganize
Winter is the perfect time to get started on all those home projects you’ve been putting off all year. Think your kids aren’t interested in helping you organize all the junk drawers and closets? Think again! Most kids love pulling out things they haven’t seen or used in a long time and finding new places to keep them. Do you have rooms that need painting?
Drapes that need to be replaced? Let your children have a hand in helping not only choose the colors and styles, but also in the actual redecorating. Little ones can play with paintbrushes and paint on a tarp-covered area of the floor while the older ones can help cover the walls. If you are getting rid of old curtains and your children are old enough to use scissors, let them cut the material to use as strips for another craft project, like making home-made doll clothes. They don’t have to be fancy! The point of all of these activities is to have fun.
Don’t Underestimate the Classics
Rather than thinking you have to come up with new and creative ideas every time the weather keeps you inside, don’t forget about the puzzles and board games that are just collecting dust on the shelves. Reading books, playing hide and seek, drawing and coloring are all tried and true classics that should always be a part of every family’s wintertime activities.
These are only a few ideas to keep your child happy during the cold winter months. Use your imagination and get creative!