In the days known as the “B.C. years” (Before Children), I relished those chilly, gray, snowy winter weekends when I could spend my time lounging around in fleece pants and hoodies making soups and sugar cookies while watching movies that contained no mice doing hot dog dances at all. I equated winter storms with words like “cozy” and “relaxing”. Now, with my B.C. years well behind me, the thought of being house-bound is no longer something I always look forward to.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time at home with my boys. However, it’s no secret that toddlers and preschoolers need to move around, stay active, and be busy. I still have flashbacks to the winter of 2010/2011 when I was in graduate school while caring for my then two year old and pregnant with my younger son. This, you may recall, was the winter it snowed a foot or so…every other week. I came close to losing my mind. Since last winter was so mild, we still managed plenty of outside time year-round. However, perhaps because I’m suffering from some weird mommy post-traumatic stress syndrome from the ’10/’11 winter, I’ve started brainstorming things the boys and I can do when we’re snowed in this year. Feel free to add your own!

  • Two words: Box fort. Having kids has taught me that sitting in a giant box, preferably with flashlights and a blanket, can keep a preschooler busy for a surprising amount of time. Add some poster paints/tape/string…you have yourself a quiet afternoon.
  • Preschoolers and older toddlers love to sort things. If they think it’s for a “real” purpose, it’s even more awesome. “Oh NO!” I’ll say. “I mixed up this pasta! Can you separate it into these bowls please?”. Always met with an enthusiastic “YES I CAAAAAN!”, two bowls of perfectly sorted pasta shapes…and a good 20 minutes where I can sit quietly with a cup of coffee.
  • In the same vein of helping, I’ve learned a three year old, a spray bottle of water, and a clean scrubby sponge can do wonders for your kitchen floor. My kids both love to help me with housework, and while I’m not comfortable passing along the real cleaners, those kids are on cloud nine when I point out dirty spots that need some elbow grease and squirts of “cleaner” from their own bottles.
  • Snow makes me want to bake cookies…all the time. I learned, while pregnant during that horrible winter (psychological damage! Seriously!), that if you EAT all the cookies you bake, however, you can quite easily gain 7 pounds in a month. Oops. We still bake all the time, since a) it’s fun, and b) a great way to practice those math skills, but now, we take the bulk of the cookie dough and freeze it, and bake up just a few to eat that day. The bonus? We can pull a bag of homemade dough out of the freezer at a moment’s notice and have freshly baked cookies ready for friends!
  • Bubbles never fail to amuse my children. I previously thought of bubbles as a spring or summer thing. They’re certainly an outside activity. No way do I want that soapy slime coating my floors. However, breaking out the “outside” bubbles and blowing them into the tub while your kids are in the bath is a relatively mess-free treat!
  • I’m not sure why, because we don’t live in a 19th century Seurat painting, but my four year old is obsessed with having fancy picnics. I can take an ordinary lunch of grilled cheese, Goldfish, grapes and milk and set it out in the living room on a blanket, and it’s instantly a party. Once, when my husband was on a business trip, we had a dinner picnic in the living room complete with popsicles from the imaginary ice cream truck (our freezer). He’s still talking about this six months later.
What are your easy, fun ways to pass the time when you’re stuck inside? Share them! Please!

Please…not again. Ever.

 

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