By Natalie Maughan
So, the holidays are now behind us. The kids played with their Christmas toys for a week and now the toys are taking up space in the basement and the kids are onto the next thing. You’ve packed away holiday décor, reorganized your house per one of your New Year’s resolutions and you’re looking out the window wondering how to keep spirits up and burn little ones’ energy for the next three months. It’s a tricky maneuver in the Midwest to find things to do this time of year. With no mountains for skiing and few hills for sledding, what do we do??
I’ve been in the Midwest for about six years now. All six years we’ve had little kids in the house. I know I find myself searching for ideas to keep the kids occupied and try to keep them active, so I thought I’d compile some ideas to share with others who are searching for the same thing. These are all ideas of things to do at or around the home. If you have ideas, please share them in the comments below.
Ideas for Winter Activities and Surviving the Season with Little Ones:
Have you ever made colorful bubble art? Try pouring bubble solution in a small Tupperware or cup and add a few drops of food coloring. Then, have your kiddo dip their bubble wand in the mixture and gently blow bubbles onto a white piece of paper. The bubbles will land and pop and leave a circle the color of the bubble solution. You can make art this way and display it for the winter; it’s fun and easy to do. The best paper to use is large construction paper or white paper on rolls for art easels.
If you haven’t made slime with your kids, you need to! My kids know I hate two things: glitter and slime, but this slime is tolerable. Homemade slime is way better than store-bought and it keeps my kids entertained for a long time, plus it’s so easy to make and lasts forever. The recipe found here is what I use. Some advice: don’t try to double the recipe; it works best to make one batch at a time. You can keep it in a Ziploc bag and it will stay ‘slimy’ for a very long time.
Brain and Body Breaks
When my oldest daughter started Kindergarten, she would come home and tell us about these ‘Brain and Body Breaks’ she would do throughout the day to get the wiggles out. We started doing them as a family and it was a lot of fun. Search YouTube for kid music videos or “Just Dance” kid-appropriate videos and sing and dance along to their favorite songs. GoNoodle also has great videos to get kids up and moving. Get the whole family involved; it’s a great way to burn energy and warm up on cold days. My kids LOVE these!
Research shows that spending a few minutes outside every day helps boost your immune system, even in the depths of winter. Sometimes with young kids we worry they’ll get sick by playing outside when it’s 15 degrees, but it may just help. I have personally found that spending 10 minutes a day outside even when it’s chilly weather helps my spirits and it’s great for kids as well. Bundle up once a day and go play in the snow or take a walk around the block. If your little ones are really little, push them in the stroller, but get outside. You’ll thank yourself for it and hopefully so will your kids.
Ghost in the Graveyard
My kids aren’t involved in winter sports so we have more free time on weeknights in the winter as opposed to spring and fall. One game we’ve recently loved playing as a family is Ghost in the Graveyard. This one is great for older kids; my 11-year-old loves this one. This game works well because it gets dark outside so darn early. There are different versions on how to play but here’s our version:
We turn all the lights off in the house. One person has a flashlight and is the seeker. They count to 20 while the rest of us hide, then the seeker has to come find us in the dark. If that’s too scary, leave a few lights on or just play regular hide and seek. It’s so easy in the winter to turn on the TV or have everyone on a cell phone or iPad or some other device. Sometimes a show together is just the thing that everyone needs but try to mix it up and play together once in a while.
Bake together. I’m surprised myself that I’m suggesting this one because sometimes baking with littles is more stressful than fun; not gonna lie. But it’s time consuming and kids LOVE baking with mom or dad. Stick with easier recipes for cookies or granola or bread. We bake this recipe for banana bread a few times a month because its’ easy and healthier than other banana bread recipes and the kids enjoy mashing the bananas.. When it’s finished walk some over to a neighbor or an elderly couple in the neighborhood; they’ll love it!
Winter can be challenging no matter your age. It’s cold and dark and can seem depressing at times. Sometimes we wish this period of the year away, but it’s an opportunity to find new ways to connect as a family or have some quality one-on-one time with your kids. I find it helps to set aside some time every day or a few nights a week to gather together as a family and do something fun that’s out of the ordinary. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or cost a penny. A simple game of tag around the house produces giggles and burns the last of the energy for the day; a win on all accounts.