The excitement from the holidays has died down, and now we’ve entered the “boring” phase of winter where we stay indoors most of the time. The flu and stomach bug are making some vicious rounds in our area, so we’re on Operation: No Public Places for a couple weeks. I’m doing curbside pickup for groceries, and no restaurants or play areas. Our outings are limited to dance class and visiting people’s houses until this blows over. I am not about to chance the flu with two little ones!
In addition to the germs going around, it’s just plain cold outside, so we’ve been stuck indoors most of the time. All that time inside our (not very big) house means I have to get a little more creative with our play so the kids are good and tired by bedtime. I notice that they are so much more restless on the days that we watch too much TV and don’t move around enough. Those days seem to just. drag. on. forever.
So, whatever your weather situation may be- cold in the Midwest or rainy days in Portland- I have some ideas to help the days go by a little faster, get the kiddos the sensory input they need, and help you keep your sanity, all while staying inside.
- Open the blinds! Even if it’s overcast and dreary, the natural light will do wonders to perk you and the kids up. It helps your body know that it’s daytime! Letting the natural light in keeps me from being so sluggish.
- If the temperature is right and it’s just raining, I’ll open the windows for some fresh air. Also, just because you aren’t going outside, doesn’t mean you can’t look outside! We like to look out the window and find red things or blue things, point out birds, watch the garbage truck, etc.
- Get moving! We like to turn on Pandora on a family-friendly station and have little dance parties! Don’t worry if you “can’t dance.” Your toddler just wants to see you waving your hands and wiggling your hips. Turn it into a game and copy their dance moves (get ready for a workout!!), and have them copy yours!
- Make a “pool” or a fort! Be a little lax on your “cushions stay on the couch” rule! My kids like to put the cushions in a rectangle-ish shape and put blankets in the middle to make it a pool. Jumping and crawling on the cushions will wear their whole little bodies out! This is perfect for some proprioceptive input!! My kids also like to pile a couple up and “climb the mountain.” This is a two-fer, because I tell my daughter that the floor has to be CLEAN before we can make a pool, so I get a clean(ish) floor and they get some great physical play!!
- Play with something messy. Yes, this means more mess for you possibly, but sometimes an entertaining mess is worth it. Pull out the Play-Doh or the paint! Not brave enough to pull out the real paint today? No big deal, give your kids some construction paper, a brush, and a cup of water and let them go to town making water paintings!
- Fill up the tub and either let the kids play (supervised, of course) for a while without actually having to get soapy, or fill it up high enough that it can be like a giant water table!
- Let them help in the kitchen! My 3 year old LOVES to help cook. She likes to dump the ingredients in the bowl and mix them for me. Try to get your kids involved, even if it’s just making a peanut butter and jelly! This would be a great day for make-your-own pizzas!
- Get them involved with the things YOU need to get done. My 3 year old likes to help pull items out of the dishwasher and is even starting to learn the general location of everything. The 1 year old likes to toss things into the dryer (and then pull them out and toss them on the floor, but, oh well. We’re trying). If you’re wiping down the cabinets, first off, great job because I never think to do that, and secondly, hand the kiddo a cloth and let her try to help.
- Get down on all fours! This is great for vestibular input. This comes into play any time your head is moving through space. It’s the system that helps your body know where it is and helps you keep your balance. It’s also great for overall body strengthening and proprioceptive input (another system that helps you know where your body is. You get input through your joints and muscles). So, what kind of activities would I do for this? Act like animals! Move cars along a path on the floor!
- Limit your screen time to defined chunks. I can easily let us get carried away with TV time by just picking a show on Netflix and letting it roll. Sometimes, we just need to chill out for a bit, so if I lead in saying that we will watch just one episode, or just one song on YouTube, or one movie, then it isn’t as hard to peel them away from the TV. They play so much harder when the TV is off, so I really try to keep it off until we need it.
I hope this helps your day go by a little more smoothly! What do you do to make your indoor days a little better?
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