Winter has always been a challenging time for us, its not uncommon to see temperatures dip to -30C for a significant portion of the season, meaning typically, we are forced to hibernate indoors. The tough winter weather also poses more of an issue when you have children, especially those with enough energy to power 100 Energizer bunnies. Luckily for us this winter has been kind so far (knock on wood!!) We have had average temperatures hovering around the freezing mark if not in the positive range for the majority of the season until now, therefore we have been able to enjoy the outdoors a little more than usual thankfully. However we are forecasted for a cold snap to hit over the next couple of weeks with our average daily temperatures around the -15C for a high and -24C for overnight lows (and thats before factoring in the windchill which will make it feel more in the -30/-35C range). Yes, I realize that we are used to temperatures like this in January/February however it doesn’t get any easier and due to the “nice” winter we have had so far, I have to plan and prepare for hibernation, especially when it comes to finding ways to entertain the peppy offspring.
Here are some ideas for easy entertainment options for the kids and whole family when we are restricted to the four walls of our house. Perfect for (what feels like) arctic winters or for those who are still under stay at home orders during this pandemic.
Take away all the screens, gather around the table and pull a board game out of the cupboard. I remember playing games with my family growing up, Yahtzee and Boggle were the usual go to choices, and it is something I look back on fondly. It was my son who requested that we have game night regularly and we have happily obliged. We like to take the opportunity to play various games, whether it’s a family fun game like Mousetrap or Trouble, or something that requires a little more thought, like Scrabble or Clue. The best part about game night, especially if we are playing something like Scrabble, Clue or Yahtzee is that my kids haven’t really caught on that we are using the game as a tool to help them learn. Spelling, math, abstract thinking, they are all requirements to successfully play these games yet all my children understand is that they are having fun, and trying to beat Dad.
I hate mess, there, I said it. If Playdoh or Slime could just go away forever I would be beyond ecstatic. I mean no matter what it always manages to find its way into the rug and it’s beyond frustrating to remove. However, I do believe that sensory play is very important in a child’s development and there are so many ways to accommodate that, without necessarily the mess. My kids love to build forts, I mean they REALLY love to build forts. They’ve built a tunnel system in our living rooms just using the cushions off our couches, or built a base for their adventures. I find fort building really healthy play, the creativity it fosters is incredible and I know its safe play. My husband and I have helped to create many a fort for our kids, utilizing all the blankets, pillows and cushions we can find in our house. It is a fun way to be imaginative and relatively easy to clean up.
A friend of mine also suggested the use of kinetic sand and she assures me that although a little messy, it is not sticky like Playdoh or Slime therefore super easy to sweep or vacuum up. Perhaps I will cave and prepare a little “beach day” activity.
Get into the kitchen
Make the use of the time you spend indoors to teach the littles activities that will be pertinent to them in the future, all while making it fun! Spend some time together to look up a fun new recipe and engage them in helping you make it. My daughter loves to help in the kitchen, she’s getting pretty good at cracking eggs without losing the shell in the mixture and so proud of that fact. How about making some sugar cookies or cupcakes and have them decorate them in their own style, or make a pizza and have them top it the way they want, engage those sparks of creativity and teach them a life lesson along the way.
There are a ton of at home experiments that you can set up in no time at all, with very little prep work. A super simple experiment that can be done is the “walking water”. Grab yourself 6 containers of water, fill three with clear water, one with red food colouring, one with blue and one with yellow. Place them into a circle while alternating between a clear and coloured container, use folded paper towels and make little bridges between the containers. They will be able to witness the water “walking” between the containers resulting in colours mixing and teaching them about capillarity. It is a great learning tool for kids and super cool to see.
Yes, this is an odd one, especially since there are so many debates on the subject, but hear me out. I am definitely not opposed to screen time, my feelings towards screens are that we have to embrace them as technology becomes more prominent in our everyday lives, they can also provide a means to education if the appropriate games are loaded, however, it cannot become the be all, end all. But tablets, computers etc are not what I mean by screen time in this instance. We, as a family, used to enjoy going out to the movies, although for the time being with our movie theatres being closed due to the Covid-19 situation we have resorted to movie days at home. A TV is just one giant screen, right? As my kids are getting older, I am finding that they are starting to venture into their own independent world, mainly consisting of playing alone in their bedrooms so I welcome and treasure any time that they just want to cuddle up beside me on the couch and watch a movie. There are many family friendly options available to stream now on places like Netflix, Prime Video or Disney+, I mean the options are pretty endless. Gather those blankets and pillows, put on some popcorn and have the most comfortable movie going experience you can, in the comfort of your own home.
Being stuck inside can be a challenge but know there are options out there that can be interesting and fun! So here’s to choices and to not hearing “I’m bored” again!