Every late fall, I spend some time sorting through my kids clothing and changing the seasonal offerings. As I sort through the shorts and tank tops, I often wonder what activities my kids will want to do as we transition to the cold months here in the Midwest. As they grow and change their opinions and likes, so do their activities. And then came 2020. Indoor ballet and ninja warrior class are both things we did last winter that won’t be happening this winter. Our beloved play place is also closed with no plans of reopening. Even without the colder temps, activities are limited. Here are a few colder weather ideas to do with your kiddos while we transition through the remainder of 2020.
Basement (or backyard- depending on your weather) Sleepover: We have done this a few times this fall and I plan on continuing the monthly activity through the winter and probably will do it more than just monthly. Let the kids hop on your grocery app and each pick a snack to have for a sleepover/movie night. Login to Netflix and pick a good family movie that everyone will watch. We let our kiddos pick their PJs and set up their Milo & Gabby Sleeping bags around the TV area. BONUS: their sleeping bags have built in pillows and happen to store really neatly under the stairs to our basement! The kiddos love their characters and it's a treat when we roll them out at home. The pillow can be detached for washing or other fun activities as well! In the warmer months, the hypoallergenic insert can even be removed! They are made of soft sateen fabric that is breathable but keeps them nice and cozy through the night. They even love to use them in their rooms or just for pounding!
I Spy in the Car: We do this a lot pandemic or not. I pop on my computer and come up with a short list of things we may see on a drive. If it's a holiday and we know that there will be decorations up, we include those. If it is a particular season where geese, ducks, or squirrels are particularly active, I include those. Make them into a bingo like board with pictures for the smaller kiddos and sight words for your early readers, and you have an hour or so of fun in the car. BONUS: make or grab coffee on the way and you *may* get to enjoy it hot!
Picnic in the park (or any room other than where you normally eat): Toss down a Milo Gaby Flannel blanket(read: washable) on the ground or floor. If you decide to do the park, wipe down the table/benches. I like to make soup once a week during the cooler months. I bring that along with our Aquaheat on-the-go food warmer. It takes just a few minutes to heat up, and we have a warm outdoor meal (no plug necessary!). If we stay indoors, I still use it as it provides a fun science experiment for the kids to watch. (They seriously LOVE it and think it is the coolest thing ever! Cart the whole lunch with you using the Aquaheat lunch bag and Innobaby Stainless Steel Bus Plates, and you have an easy picnic that the kids will love!
Random Act of Kindness Day: This is an all-time favorite for me. I let the kids each pick what kind thing they want to do for the day. So far, our favorites have been handing out coffee gift cards at the train station, donating food to the local pantry, and making and sending cards to our frontline workers and soldiers overseas. We have also just put cute notes made by my kiddos on car windshields at church. Some local moms I know have also taken their kids to the local fire department and brought snacks and treats for first responders. In healthier times, we usually bring some treats to the NICU that cared for my middle guy when he was born so that his doctors and nurses could see him and my oldest, who was a resident lunch-buddy during his stay. Find the cause that melts your heart, and have your kiddos come up with a fun, simple way to honor that group!
Formal Sundays: With not as much to do around, we decided to start Formal Sundays. On these days, everyone gets a bath and picks out their fanciest outfit (usually a holiday outfit) and dresses to the nines. I either cook something fancy or order in from one of our local places. We take time to set the dining room up and let the kids have milk out of the plastic wine glasses. We put a record on our turntable and have a nice dinner in our formal dining room, using our nicest kids flatware and Innobaby Stainless Steel Bus Plates. The kids love it and twice now since March, we have let them order a fancy outfit to wear to Formal Sunday which makes it even more fun!
I’ve learned over the past 8 months to be a bit more patient, get creative with what I have around the house, and to enjoy the little things in life. Slowing down is hard when life gets demanding, but keeping it simple and fun without too much work is the easiest way to engage kiddos who stay entertained and make memories even when those memories are all at home.