In many parts of the world, it's that time of year. You know the one I'm talking about — where the weather is bad, it's too cold to go outside (or to stay outside long), and so the kids are cooped up indoors all day long. It's enough to make the most creative mom go crazy! If you're in need of some new ideas, see if any of these spark your fancy.
1. Bubble Wrap
There are about a million things you can do with bubble wrap. Attach it to a wall and let them pound on it. Combine it with one of the suggestions below and have a jumping contest or a dance party on the bubble wrap. Wrap it around the child's torso and let them roll until all the bubbles are popped. I'm sure you could keep going...
2. Jumping Contests
I only have one jumper, so our contests are pretty easy. We count the number of jumps she can take before she falls over. With more jumpers, you can see who can jump the longest. If your kids are older, see who can jump the highest, or the farthest, or who can jump on the couch and land on their feet. You could even have a jumping Olympics, with several different events and an overall winner.
3. Obstacle Courses
It's easy to get intimidated by the thought of making an obstacle course, but there's no need. Couch cushions, kitchen chairs, rugs, stuffed animals, blankets, and more can create more obstacles than you're likely to need. One of the great things about obstacle courses is that you can make them easy for younger children and harder for older kids (for instance, a young child can crawl under a chair, while an older child has to climb to the seat and go over).
4. Have a Dance Party
Turn on some music, crank it, and let loose. You can teach your kids all the dance moves from your generation (and all the ones your parents taught you), or have a dance contest. Play a "Red Light, Green Light" sort of game and make everyone stop dancing when you turn the music off.
5. Balloon Games
Balloons are sort of like bubble wrap — you can play with them in so many different ways. See how long the kids can keep the balloon in the air. Give them all empty paper towel tubes and let them bat the balloons back and forth. Or, you can tape a balloon to each child's waist and let them try to pull each other's balloons off. If you have a lot of balloons, have a popping contest to see who can pop the most balloons in a certain amount of time.
6. Run & Jump
Take all the pillows and blankets you can find, stack them up, and let your kids run and jump into them. Or, stack them next to the couch and let them jump off, into the pile. Have a style contest, where the best trick jump into the pile wins. You'll want to keep your pile away from doors, walls, windows, and other potential hazards, and make sure the zippers on cushions or pillows are buried deep in the pile.
7. Treasure Hunt
Hide something fun, and then help your kids find it. You can write clues for them and hide them around the house or, if you want something that's less labor intensive, you can just say "Warm" when they're getting closer to the object and "Cold" when they're getting farther away. For younger kids, make the treasures relatively easy to find. For older kids, make it more of a challenge.
8. Pretend You're Outside
If your kids really want to be outside, help them pretend that they are. Let them put on bathing suits, get out beach towels, and even make palm trees and other accessories out of construction paper. Put on beach music (or let them sing some) and sunglasses, and pretend you're having a day of sun and surf. Extra props if you have a beach ball or a raft you can blow up and let them play on.
9. Play Ka-Boom!
Most kids love to knock things over. This game can be as simple as building towers out of blocks and letting your kids knock them over, or as complex as piling up all sorts of objects from around the house. This not only gives kids something to do, but helps them think about how to stack things so that they don't fall over on their own. The best part, though, is letting them knock it all down at the end. Ka-BOOM!!!!
10. Act It Out
Harness kids' energy by helping them put on a play. For little kids, this can be as simple as helping them act like animals or act out certain occupations. Older kids can write a script, memorize it, and perform for you later. Help them make costumes, masks, props, and more, or give them the materials and let them go at it themselves. Who knows? You might be training the next movie star!
These are just a few ideas for entertaining your kids when they have a lot of energy but can't go outside. What do you do to help your kids get their energy out when they can't run around?