Year after year, the cooler months in the Triangle tend to leave kids with a little cabin fever. Throw in a pandemic combined with virtual learning and the ideas to stay entertained and occupied tend to run out before you know it!
- Let the kids color and paint all of the cardboard delivery boxes lying around. Once they’re colored and dried, tape them together to make a fort, a house, a castle, a boat or anything they can imagine! This can give them a new space to play in for weeks to come.
- Have “theme days”. Ask your kids what they would like the theme to be and plan your day around it! For instance, if they choose “princess”, you can dress up with them and prepare an afternoon tea party for lunch, have a princess story time with all of their go-to stuffed animals, and act out the scenes from their favorite princess movie.
- Let them be a part of dinner and lunch preparations! Make meal prep an interactive activity by choosing foods that they can help with. If you’re making pizza, instead of a couple of large ones to share, make individual pizzas for everyone in the family. That way, everyone can help by being in charge of their own pizza. If your kids love nachos, make a large build your own nacho station for lunch. The possibilities for fun in the kitchen are endless!
- Make an in-home scavenger hunt. Hide their favorite toys with clues around the house and lead them on a hunt to find a special final prize!
- Make craft stations. With holidays coming up such as Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, you can use them as inspiration to make craft stations for the kids to get into the holiday spirit. Consider stations such as shirt decorating, card making, cookie decorating, book reading, stamping/painting window clings, coloring book/story pages, and painting wooding décor pieces for their rooms.
- Supervise an indoor water day! Fill up your bathtub and add pool toys or plastic kitchen utensils and let the kids have some good old-fashioned water fun.
- Get creative with drawing – this is fun AND it exercises their minds! The possibilities for drawing are endless. You could have them draw themselves, each other, what they want for dinner, the family pet, have them practice their letters and numbers, or their favorite toys and characters!
- Bring the snow inside! Follow any of the many DIY recipes for making your own snow and throw it in your sensory table for the kids to enjoy. As an added bonus, put some food color in it for extra color! Or, let the kids have a “snowball fight” by balling up all of the white socks in the laundry. For a tasty snowy activity, they could make edible snowmen out of marshmallows, chocolate chips and sprinkles!
- Go “camping”. Pitch a play-tent inside or use blankets and pillows around the furniture and set up an indoor camping adventure! You can use construction paper and toilet paper rolls to make a fire and tell spooky stories with hand puppets by shining a flashlight on the walls.
- Turn mealtime or snack time into a picnic! Lay a blanket down, put the food in your favorite picnic basket and enjoy your indoor picnic while spending quality time with the kids, reminiscing about their favorite summer activities!
- Get out all of their favorite puzzles and put them around the house. Once they’ve completed one, they can move onto the next. For an added challenge, mix two puzzles up together for them to sort through and complete!
- Get a head start on grandma and grandpa’s birthday cards for the year and have them construct and decorate a couple of them as an arts and crafts project! This is also a great way for the younger kids to practice writing their names and letters in a fun way!
- Build a bird feeder together and let them pick out a bird-watching book geared towards kids their age. Once the feeder is complete, they can study and observe which birds come to the feeder each day.
- Have them put on an after-dinner show for mom and dad! Whether they want to use dolls/figurines, hand puppets, finger puppets, or dress up and act it all out themselves, they can spend the day practicing for their big performance and you can look forward to the quality family time in the evening. Get your video camera ready!
- Sit down with them and, together, create an “activity plan” for the week to come. Give them a handful of options and let them choose the days and activities they prefer. This way, they’ll have extra enthusiasm when the time comes for the activity!
While being stuck at home can quickly become overwhelming, it helps to take a step back, think about the silver linings, and soak in the precious time with your kids that you wouldn’t typically have gotten if it wasn’t for the current pandemic. And if that doesn’t work, remember that this too shall pass and they’ll be back in school and playing outside in no time!