During Wisconsin’s winters, it doesn’t take long to realize that cabin fever is a very real thing. Being cooped up with energetic little ones can be fun if you try some new things (coffee and patience don’t hurt either). Here are a few tips to survive a snow day with the littles.
Get outside (if it’s not dangerously cold. So, not this week!) Don’t be afraid to bundle up your bundle of joy and enjoy winter’s bounty. We loaded up on snow gear and found a great toddler sled with a rope pull and seat belt strap for under $10. Make snow angels, throw some snow around, or make your own Frosty the Snowman. Here’s a tip for first-timers: let your toddler walk around on a shoveled sidewalk or driveway, and slowly help them play with the snow to warm up to the idea. Our 19 month old quickly showed us the err of our ways when we plopped her in the middle of the yard after three inches had fallen.
Change the scenery. Find new areas to play throughout the house. We have a play area in the basement with an art table, tent, play kitchen (thanks, Craigslist!), and myriad toys. We keep a basket of toys and books in the main living room, and stash a few favorites in our bedroom as well. If you don’t have a basement, set up a play area in the kitchen (Tupperware somehow entrances toddlers) or build a reading fort in a spare bedroom. Keep the kiddos moving throughout the day.
Make something! It can be anything: cookies, crayon art or a construction paper collage. The key is to get excited and do it together. Even the youngest toddlers can help you roll out cookie dough or sprinkle in chocolate chips. New experiences are fun and refreshing for parents and children alike.
Get ‘Pinteresty’ – Here are a few of my favorite (low-maintenance) Pinterest finds:
- “Painting.” It still baffles me when I think about ten toddlers finger painting in one classroom, with only two teachers. A twist to try at home is filling a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with a dollop of finger paint, then closing it and taping both ends to a window, glass door, or table. Let your little one use their fingers to make designs. Since this activity goes fast, you might want to tape 4-6 bags with different colors (or colors to mix!) to keep them busy.
- Even I, the no-bake wonder, have the ingredients for this homemade playdough recipe. If you don’t like the mess, let them play with it on parchment paper or a baking tray.
- A good activity for quiet time AND fine motor skills is putting craft pom poms through a toilet paper or paper towel tube taped to a wall. Keep a bowl under the tube to catch the pom poms so they can easily grab them again.
Find something “new.” Early on in M’s life, I learned that we would never have a shortage of books or toys. A very wise friend suggested a helpful trick that every mama should have in her arsenal – keeping things new. Before Christmas and her birthday, we select which of M’s toys and books to donate, which to save for the (currently imaginary) next baby and which to keep in a closet and pull out for playtime later. Sometimes we even save the brand-new toys for a rainy day. New and/or rediscovered surprises help keep those little minds and hands interested.
When all else fails: Elmo (or Disney/Pixar etc.) A snow day is an excellent excuse to cozy up and watch a movie together. For older kids, proclaim it as pajama day, complete with warm drinks and tasty snacks. Build a fort or a cuddle space, and get comfortable. Even my busy 19 month old, likes to cuddle up and watch Elmo or Nemo for a few minutes at a time.