While the rain is pelting down, the wind is howling, and the temperature is plummeting, it can be difficult to know how to keep the little ones amused when there’s no opportunity to get outside. There’s no way you are going to be risking hypothermia simply because your little cherubs are pleading with you to go to the park. Can they not see the hailstones the size of golf balls outside the window? When it’s cold, grey and drab outside, everyone’s mood can shift from cheery, happy and optimistic to miserly, crabby and morose. However, with your delightful offspring brightening up your day, it can be hard to stay too melancholy for long. Sure, you haven’t seen the sun in ten days, and you feel like you might be developing rickets, but you need to remain focused as a responsible parent.
The longer your little darlings are cooped up indoors, the tougher it can be to keep them amused. Of course, the easy option is to put on their favorite DVD for the hundredth time and take a break, but you want to do something more. Take a look at these ideas that will help you and your toddlers get the most out of these chilly winter days.
There’s nothing better on a cold day than to whip on the aprons and get the bowls and wooden spoons out. You don’t have to be Delia Smith in order to bake a basic kids cake. A simple sponge, icing to decorate and maybe some jam or chocolate for a filling is all you need. If the thought of creaming and separating eggs sends you into a cold sweat, you can even buy packet mixes that require nothing more than the addition of a splash of water or a touch of milk.
Although it can be tempting to take over in an effort to try and create a culinary showstopper masterpiece a la Great British Bake Off, it’s important to remember to get the little ones involved. It’s good to get messy so let them mix up the ingredients, lick the bowl and decorate the cake. It might not be the most beautiful three-tier creation but it will be authentic and something that your toddlers can take pride in. As it cooks in the oven, you can wait in anticipation before scoffing the sweet treat.
It doesn’t matter whether your little darlings are into Frozen, Beauty and the Beast or Paw Patrol, there are plenty of freebie templates now available on the Internet for you to print off. After you’ve purchased some cheap printer ink and cartridges you can print off many different images of your kids favorite characters in draft mode before getting your little ones to color them in using all sorts of weird and wonderful crayons, felt tips, paint, and chalk.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious and want to go above and beyond the usual coloring in, you could set up some art stations around the living room and make a day of it. You could whip out the recycling and create all sorts of vehicles out of boxes, make a rocket out of some old plastic bottles or even allow your kids minds to run riot to invent their own model making creations.
One facet of toddler art that never seems to fall out of fashion is potato and hand printing. If your little ones love getting messy, whip out the poster paint and do some printing. Make sure every piece of furniture is covered with a sheet and that the expensive heirlooms are safely stored away before creating some mammoth colorful potato print posters.
Some of the most fun games to grace a table are those marketed for the youngest amongst us. Games like pop-up pirate, buckaroo and splat face are hilariously good for a giggle, kids love the anticipation of jumping in fright as the plastic stallion bucks up or someone’s face gets covered in gunge. As an alternative to watching mind-numbing TV, games are an excellent choice. This gives you a real chance to get to know your little ones, to talk to them, have a giggle with them and enjoy their company. The most joyous moments can be when you’re stuck indoors because of the weather, and you’re hunting for ways to keep your offspring amused.
If you’re blessed with a large enough dwelling, why not go all out old school and have a game of hide and seek. You could be left counting to twenty before running around the house looking for your kids. The only worry is that you might lose them for good if your humble abode is really massive. You may need to set boundaries and make some parts of the house out of bounds for health and safety reasons.
If you have particularly imaginative little people living in your home, you might want to give them the opportunity to self-direct their play. With a dress up box, some random objects and some space, you’ll be surprised how you can take a step back and observe them making up games, role play, and stories. They may even put on a play, dress up and perform their favorite nursery rhyme or simply enjoy trying on different clothes and taking on different personalities. Giving them this opportunity gives you a chance to have a cup of tea or coffee while you watch your little darlings pretending to be witches, kings or twirlywoos.
As a responsible parent, it’s up to you to facilitate opportunities that allow your children to have fun, enjoy being in your company and not end up comatose in front of the gogglebox. When the weather is shocking, the temperature is freezing, and you have no opportunities to take in the fresh air and allow your little ones the opportunity to stretch their legs and run off their energy, you need to think outside the box to ensure that they remain engaged and active.
Disclosure: This is a contributed post.