If you have read some of my previous articles, you may be aware of the fact that I have three children 3 and under. And if you are anything like myself, the word "winter" drives fear and trepidation into your very being. Trying to keep three kids occupied during these cold, dark days can be overwhelming and some days, impossible. So, I have gathered up all the stalemate ideas sitting in the nooks and crannies of my mind and put them together for some useful ideas for you and me both :)
1. Take the kids out for a "field trip day"/activity day
Go to the local library or take the kids to the mall or an indoor playplace. These are great activities to give them something new and, hopefully, burn off some of the excess energy bubbling beneath the surface. I try to do something just for them once a week, it is not as much as they would get in the summertime, but at least it fills the days and gives them something to look forward to.
2. Craft day/creative play
Keep a cupboard or room stocked full of craft supplies ready to go. These could be simple items such as construction paper, scissors, felts and coloring books. Or more adventurous ideas such as painting supplies or playdough. Try to give your kids some time each day to express themselves creatively in drawing or playdough or painting. This helps to boost their self-esteem and just may help to fill in time!
Bonus tip: go to your local newspaper and ask for an end-of-roll newsprint paper. Usually you can get a roll for $10-$20 depending on the size, and they last FOREVER! Great for rolling out a long sheet of paper to trace your child.
3. Build an indoor fort/imaginative play
Toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school-aged children have a vivid imagination! It is so crucial to give our kids an opportunity and environment in which their imagination can grow and thrive. So, try playing with them. With most kids, a little nudge in the right direction and they will play for hours on the idea you put in their minds. This could be something simple like building a makeshift fort out of a cardboard box or a sheet draped over the couch and some chairs. Or really really simple such as putting all the chairs in the kitchen together in a "train" while you wash the floors ;) My kids love to bring up their play animals and dinosaurs and make their own zoo/dinosaur train where they are the conductor. The opportunities here are endless, the key is to give them an idea and watch their little imaginations soar! Make sure you have your video camera handy!
4. Baking/household activities
It is easier to do it yourself, we all know this fact. However, often, if you take the little bit of extra time and energy to get your kids involved, it can help pass the time and keep your kids occupied. So pull out your mixer and let them help you make cookies, or wash the dishes, or wash the windows. They might need a little extra help, and you might have some more work in the end cleaning up, but at least you will be able to get through a task without constant whining and complaining on your legs.
All in all, get involved with your kids. It is easier said than done, but often they are misbehaving as a direct result of boredom or lonliness. Get them started on something and watch them take off and hopefully, keep them occupied for hours :)