Alternate title: Baby, it's cold outside.
Winter has always been my least favorite season. If it weren't for Christmas, my anniversary, and the birthdays of a few of my favorite people (and, you know, the fact that it's not really an option,) I would go into hibernation the first time it went below 40 degrees and refuse to come out until late April. Added on top of that is the fact that now I have a toddler, and taking him outside involves dressing him up like this:
|Complete list of the clothing he is wearing in this picture: short-sleeved onesie, long sleeved shirt, corduroy overalls, fleece jacket, snowsuit overalls, snowsuit jacket, fleece-lined hat, mittens, socks, shoes, diaper.|
(I hate when I read lists of ways to entertain your child and they say things like "build a tower of blocks" or "roll a ball" because, um, I already know how my child's toys are supposed to be used. So I'm going into this list assuming that you've already played with all of the toys and read some books, ok? Ok.)
|I'm also going to assume you've already dressed your kid up like a giraffe|
and then given them a coloring book. Obviously.
(No, this picture isn't from Halloween. It was just a giraffe suit kind of day.)
1. Super-Sized Coloring
Take a large cardboard box, then tear or cut it at the seams and unfold it so it's flat. Add crayons, and voila! Giant coloring surface! I was going to explain why toddlers like it, but that's pretty self-explanatory. (If the box is big enough, you can also let them color inside it without tearing it open.)
2. Dance Party
Crank up the music and bust out your best dance moves, because dancing is a million times more fun for toddlers if mommy or daddy is dancing too. (Just make sure you close your blinds before you start showing off your dance moves. Trust me, I know this from embarrassing experience.) An empty plastic bottle with some rice or beans inside makes a great maraca so your kid can shake along with the music.
You might think your toddler is too young for crafts, but chances are there's something (s)he can do. Lucas loves decorating things with stickers. (Large foam stickers are especially easy for toddlers to handle.) Lucas and I did that painting above together when he was 16 months old, but to be fair, he kind of hated it because he doesn't like getting messy. If your kid is ok with mess, you can read the instructions (including the recipe for homemade, toddler-safe finger paint) here. And next week on my blog, I'll show you a Christmas craft that Lucas made for our family.
I get a few magazine subscriptions in the mail for free, and I pretty much just skim through them once and then leave them in a magazine rack until I need them for something. Like a craft or... entertaining my child. Lucas loves just flipping through them and looking at the pictures, and unlike with my books, I don't mind if he tears them. To prolong the entertainment factor, ask your toddler to find a picture of something that you know will be in the magazine (For example, I'll ask Lucas to look for a picture of a baby in a parenting magazine.)
5. Fun in a Box
I never get rid of boxes until we've played with them first. What's so fun about boxes? Honestly, I have no idea. But toddlers like to play in them. If you need some exercise and want some extra toddler giggles, push your child back and forth across the room or down a hall in the box. (Warning: once you start, they will never, ever let you stop. Ever.)
6. Play Stop and Go
I can't take credit for this idea - my friend Rebekah suggested it when we were talking about teaching our kids to obey. She'll have her toddlers stand still, then when she says "go," they walk or run until she says "stop." They have to stop immediately and freeze in place until she says go again. To them, it's just a fun game, but it's teaching them to obey the word "stop" so that if she ever needs to shout it before they run in front of a car or something, they'll have had practice. Until Lucas gets a better handle on this one, I hold his hand, and we both run at the word "go" and freeze at the word "stop." He thinks it's hilarious!
I know, this doesn't sound fun at all. But toddlers will often enjoy "helping" you clean if you give them something specific to do while you're cleaning. Give them a rag and let them "wash" the windows or kitchen floor. Lucas loves the vacuum cleaner and will very diligently follow us around the whole house vacuuming with his toy vacuum while we vacuum with the real one. Toddler tip: paper towel tubes or wrapping paper tubes make a great substitute for a child-sized vacuum.
8. Homemade Toys
Ok, so this is kind of a shameless plug for some of my other posts, but in case you missed them, I've written three posts of homemade toys that you can make in about five minutes or less. So when the real toys aren't cutting it anymore, let your kid play with jar lids or an empty oatmeal container. Click here to see the homemade toy posts I've written.
9. Call Grandma (or other relatives)
Lucas loves the phone. So occasionally when he's bored with everything he owns, I'll call my mom, put my cell phone on speaker, and let the two of them chat. Lucas's half of the conversation consists mostly of "Hi! Hi! Gramma! Hi! Gramma! Hi! Hi!" but my mom loves it, and so does Lucas. We also Skype with my parents and my sister every once in a while. Guaranteed entertainment, and my family members (none of whom are local) get face time with Lucas. It's win/win!
10. Give them a bath
I'll be honest. I kind of hate bath time (I mean, not my own bath time. I love bathing myself. Please don't back away - I promise I don't stink.) So bathing Lucas is usually Dan's job. But Lucas loves baths, so when all else fails, half an hour of playing with toys in warm water is a great way to kill time and make him a happy camper.
What else would you add to this list? How do you entertain your kids indoors when it's cold outside?
If you could click this, I'd be ever so grateful!