Got Kids? Get Ready for Winter Doldrums

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Unless you love skiing, ice skating or cold weather, you’re likely to view the next few months with a touch of dread, particularly if you’re a parent. School holidays, snow days and cold, dark afternoons can bring on a case of the winter blues or at least a few hours of boredom for your kids. Preparing yourself for the inevitable day or two – or more – of being stuck in the house with restless kids could change your attitude and leave you hoping for some more snow days.

Organize your home for indoor play

As you clear out the holiday decorations and prepare for winter weather, take the time to reorganize the areas where your kids play and see if you can carve out some additional space. If you have a basement, take a look at your storage space and furniture to see if you make it more appealing as a place to play.

If you’re lucky enough to have a storage closet with a little extra space, see if you can create a hideaway with a couple of pillows where your kids can play games or read or color.

Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to make craft items and games more accessible so they can independently grab a game or start a project. Inexpensive plastic bins and drawers are easily available that can keep art supplies and dress-up clothes neat yet reachable by your kids.

Think about the kinds of activities your kids enjoy and then evaluate your space. If they love to do crafts or art projects, where can they do them? A child-size table in the basement, family room or a bedroom can make it easier for your child to enjoy projects than leaning over the kitchen table.

If you want to encourage reading, then create a reading nook someplace with a comfortable chair, a basket or shelf for books and good lighting. Even a corner of your walk-in closet can make a cozy winter reading spot.

If you’re not having guests for a while, there’s no reason you can’t turn your living room or dining room into a winter playroom that you’ll convert back to usual use when the weather changes.

Gather materials for creative play

If it’s been awhile since you’ve checked your supply of crayons, markers, glitter and glue, now is the time to do an inventory and replenish those items along with paper and coloring books. Put together a box with craft supplies like feathers, sequins, fabric scraps and buttons.

Make sure you have play dough, clay and paint for art projects.

Gather dress-up clothes in a basket – and don’t forget to put old Halloween costumes and adult cast-offs like ties, hats and scarves that can be repurposed by your kids.

Get some large pieces of cardboard to keep on hand for making posters and a puppet theatre.

Make sure you have some supplies on hand for making an indoor fort – big sheets, blankets and pillows.

Check out your collection of board games and puzzles – it may be time to update them to match your kids’ ages and interests. Board games and puzzles are frequently available at flea markets, thrift stores and library sales, so keep an eye for those to grab some bargain items. Don’t give them to your kids right away: it’s always a great idea to have something new on hand to bring out when they’re beginning to whine.

Get in the habit of changing library books often to keep new books on hand to interest your kids. Don’t forget to check out the library for books with activities and games for kids.

Keep an activities list handy

The day your kids are bored will be the day you’re busiest or feeling restless yourself, so keep a list of possible games to play and activities to try on hand so you’re prepared. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Learn a magic trick from a book or online video.
  • Set up an indoor obstacle course.
  • Make a video or audio recording of your kids singing, dancing or reading a poem.
  • Learn to play chess.
  • Suggest that your kids put on a play based on their favorite fairy tale or movie. Depending on their age, have them write a script, make up programs, put together costumes and memorize their lines.
  • Teach your kids to cook or bake or knit or sew – any skill they’re ready for that you enjoy.
  • Make your own silly putty – recipes can be found online.
  • Make a family time capsule to hide in your attic or basement.
  • Write a story together.
  • Make a family tree and tell your kids stories about your family members.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt in your home.
  • Have a dance party – with just the family or with friends, too.
  • Gather materials outdoors to make a winter wreath.