Fall is here, which means the air is crisper and colder temperatures are approaching. Gone are the summer days where you could just send your kid barefoot into the back yard to play. Instead, as any mom knows, just getting outside can be a chore in itself because of all that layering and bundling up, lacing shoes, and then having to change a dirty diaper just when you thought you were good to go.
I’m all for getting some fresh air, and if it were up to him my son would spend all day every day outside no matter the weather, but some days you simply want to stay cozied up inside.
That’s why today I want to share with you 8 of my favorite activities to do with kids when we’re stuck in the house:
1) Get Creative! Be prepared for a bit of mess but a lot of fun. There are endless options out there, but two that we often resort to are PLAY DOUGH and PAINT.
- I make my own play dough using this recipe from YouTube (since I can’t find cream of tartar here in Germany I had to find a recipe without it, and this is perfect! I simply store it in a ziplock bag on our countertop and it has lasted for weeks so far.) Sometimes Caleb can entertain himself with play dough (which is always a bonus) but often he wants me to play with him. Seriously, moms…you can incorporate almost ANYTHING you find around the house into play dough fun! Your child will love toothpicks, cookie cutters, random lids, cups – anything that can be used to cut, poke holes in or make designs in the play dough. And the good news is, you don’t have to be super artsy – kids are imaginative enough that if you roll a chunk of play dough into a ball, poke little holes in it and call it a strawberry, they’ll pretend that’s what it is!
- I found some finger paints while shopping the other week and decided to buy them. It was a good investment! If I decide to let Caleb paint, I cover the table with a plastic tablecloth (that is dedicated only to crafts and is allowed to get dirty), put a long-sleeve bib on him to protect his clothes, pull out some empty sheets of paper and let him have fun! Make sure you buy water-soluble paint…way easier to clean up 🙂
2) Build a Fort / Obstacle Course. There’s not much room in our home for my son to run around when he’s wound up, so I try to do the best with what we’ve got. One afternoon that meant putting a bunch of blankets and pillows on the floor and letting him jump off of his toy chest. At least I knew he had a soft spot to land on!
3) Resort to Technology. We don’t actually own a television, but Caleb gets enough “screen time” on my computer. Of course I try to limit how much time he spends watching YouTube videos and such, but I really don’t have a bad conscience when he sits there for half an hour because there are some actually fun, educational shows out there for kids. Two of my favorites are Dave & Ava (typical nursery rhymes done with great animations, and the music is not annoying!) and Heroes of the City (Helden der Stadt in German). When I NEED to get something done (shower, cook, etc.) I know watching something on the “puter” will keep him busy.
4) Bake Together. Turning on the oven just feels good on a rainy day, doesn’t it? Kids love to “help” cook, even if it may take longer or be messier than it would otherwise. Our favorite thing to bake is muffins. Caleb gets to pour ingredients from the measuring cups into the mixer, shake in spices, and of course lick the beaters 🙂 My go-to choices are these awesome Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (healthy, delicious, and using ingredients I usually have on hand) or Morning Glory Muffins (I remember my mom always making these when I was growing up, and they’re still a favorite of mine!)
5) Look at Pictures. Cuddle up on the couch and pull out your child’s baby album (or if you’re like me and can’t seem to keep up with your photo albums, just click through pictures on Facebook!). Children have a much sharper memory than we may assume, and can often recall details of certain situations when they see pictures. Relive memories, ask your child questions about family members, tell them what they were like when they were a baby, etc. This is a great way to bond and fun for both of you!
6) Be Innovative. What do you have laying around your house that you could turn into something useful for playing? The other day we cut up a cereal box to form a ramp for Caleb to push his cars down on. The key here is letting your child help in the process. They’re more likely to play with it if they got to help make it in the first place!
7) Clean. Yeah, I’m actually serious! Sometimes rainy days are the perfect opportunity to get stuff done at home. Let your toddler spray surfaces and then you take over the wiping them down part; or sweep crumbs into different piles on the floor and let them vacuum it up.
8) Change the Scenery. Do something you do all the time (blocks, animals, etc.), but move it to a different location. Build a tower on the kitchen table instead of the floor. Bring your child and all their stuffed animals into your bed instead of the play corner. Read a book on the floor instead of the couch. This is one way to re-engage them in toys that they may have lost interest in.
Alright, over to you! What would you add to this list?
Share your favorite at-home activities by leaving a comment below or in the Facebook Group.