Oh, the weather outside is frightful… For parents of stir-crazy kids, I think the atmosphere inside the house is more frightful. Sure we could sit on the couch and watch six movies, getting up only to refill our water bottles, but that would not burn off any energy the kids need to use up, and by evening, they’d surely be bouncing off the walls. Here are five fun things to do inside when it’s dark and cold well before dinner time.
A very long bath. Fill the tub in the middle of the day and let them play without the ugly business of washing hair. Experiment with ice cubes. Bring plastic kitchen utensils. Use glowsticks and turn the lights out. Make it a party. (Don’t leave little ones unattended.) Recently my husband shocked and delighted my daughter by running into the bathroom in his swim trunks and jumping in to her bath, making a big splash. Wearing goggles and bathing suits makes it feel like a vacation instead of bathing.
Baking. Involve kids in reading a list of ingredients, lining them up on the counter, finding the right equipment and following a recipe. I’m a huge fan of boxed brownie mix or using packaged cake mix to make cupcakes. Trader Joe’s vanilla bean cake mix is my go-to. It keeps the number of ingredients and dirty dishes manageable. (Tip from ParentHacks.com: Let messy stirrers get down on their knees and use the open door of the dishwasher as their counter. When they’re done, shut the door and let the flour and sugar go down the drain with the next cycle.)
Decorating. Focus on the upcoming holiday or next family birthday. Or create a simple sign that says “Zoe’s Room”. Make something to hang where they can enjoy it. We made this hanging display from ribbon and circle stickers taped to the doorway.
Dance Party/Family Band. Gather all the instruments in the house. Arrange colorful towels on the floor so that everyone has their own mini-stage. Turn on the music or make your own. Try “freeze dance” for kids two and up. Have a crib? Let the kids do a show for you.
Clean up time. Hand out special cleaning tools that make it fun. Whisk brooms and dustpans, feather dusters, sponges and spray bottles. Keep the harsh chemicals put away and just let them use water. Cleaning becomes much more appealing when there are accessories involved. (Tip: If you have a dry cloth duster on a collapsible pole, take one length of pole out so that it becomes a child-sized mop.)