No one likes to be stuck in the house for long periods of time when it's just too cold to spend long periods of time outside. Young kids especially can start to climb the walls no matter how many toys are laying around the house. They will no doubt look to Mom and Dad for entertainment when the days are long - and cold.
Here are 10 mostly free and very kid-friendly ideas to keep sanity on cold days, snow days, and weekends:
1. Get Fresh Air
Being cooped up in the house for long periods of time is not necessarily healthy. Even on cold, snowy days it is good to get some fresh air for at least 30 minutes. Take a walk, have a snowball fight, build a fort, collect pine cones in the snow. A family walk can be fun and give everyone a change of scenery that's good for the soul. Be sure everyone dresses warm to prevent a house full of sick people.
2. Feed Backyard Friends
Not all birds fly South for the winter. Many are meant to endure the cold temperatures, but the frozen ground makes it harder to find the worms. Your family can make easy bird feeders to pass the time and provide winter nutrition for your backyard friends.
Bird feeder directions: A jar of peanut butter, a few of your pine cones, a bag of birdseed, a butter knife, and string or fishing line is all you need for your project. Cover your work space with newspapers. Tie a piece of string around the pine cone which will be used to hang it up. Coat pine cones with the peanut butter and roll them in the seeds. Let them dry well as you make more. Put on your coats and boots and head out to the backyard to hang them. Make sure to hang a few near a window so kids can watch the birds feed throughout the day.
3. Get Funky
Many game systems have dance-related games to get the family moving. If you do not have a game system, there is no reason why you can't host your own dance party. Have kids select songs and be sure to dance with them. It can even be fun to look up some dance steps online for formal dances like the Mashed Potato, the Electric Slide, and even the Hokey Pokey. Not only will the whole family have a blast learning together, kids will get some much needed exercise and expend some energy.
4. Host a Game Night With Friends
Friends with kids are also likely suffering from fits of boredom. Pick a night to host a family game night. Use board games, made up games, or traditional children's party games to entertain the masses. Other families can contribute snack foods or drinks to the party to keep it inexpensive. Game nights tend to be so much fun they become regular events. Plan to trade game night locations once a month to keep enjoying more time with friends.
5. Create a Play
Help older kids create a script for a play they can later perform. This can take a few days to put together and keep the kids busy thinking up new ideas. In addition to writing the script, they can find costumes, props, and create a stage for their performance. If you are short on kids, invite friends and neighborhood children to participate. When the play is ready, gather an audience and don't forget the standing ovation.
6. Make a Movie
Using the same concept as creating a play, have the kids create their own movie if you have the technology. Not only will this help pass the time and keep kids creative, you will be able to produce an awesome memory for years to come. Have the kids make a movie each year and compile their efforts on a disc to watch every year and realize how much they have grown. Indulge their creativity by creating a director's chair, playing a part in the movie, or helping with costume designs.
7. Design a Story
Most kids have a favorite story or fairy tale and they would probably love inventing a new one with Mom and Dad. Sit down with the kids to create a new storybook, complete with kids' drawings. Take it a step further and use on of the many reasonably priced, online resources to turn that homemade book into a real printed work of art. Self-publishing your family story will truly become a favorite family memory.
8. Create a Restaurant Experience
Perk up an otherwise boring dinner by creating a menu, donning an apron, and carrying an order tablet to your family meal. Rather than serve the kids as usual, ask to take their order. The kids will likely find it hilarious to see Mom waitressing and Dad as the cook, even the older ones. You can also trade places with the kids who can prepare snacks or a lunch for you the next day.
9. Go Old School
Ban all electronics for a few hours and get kids back to the basics. Teach kids some old-fashioned but still fun games of yesteryear. You may have to conduct an online search to remember what you did before cell phones and Steve Jobs, but sharing these simple games with your kids will likely be a hit. Pick-up sticks, checkers, marbles, jacks, and many other family-friendly game ideas can be a great way to spend a cold day indoors.
10. Camp Indoors
Kids love a change of pace, especially when their parents aren't afraid to get silly with them. Seeing Mom and Dad setting up a tent in the living room will surely inspire kids to play along. Set up as much traditional camping stuff as you can including the tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs, a lantern, and a cooler. Turn off the lights in the house and use flashlights to tell ghost stories. Make a batch of s'mores in the microwave if you don't have a fireplace.
Creativity of parents can go a long way with kids. Beat back boredom by helping kids have fun rather than sitting back and waiting for them to entertain themselves. Create new traditions for snow days and winter vacations and have lots of fun in the process.