While your kids may love hitting the playground or even a hiking trail when the sun comes out, it’s not always possible due to time and other constraints. However, your home can become a playground when you use a little imagination and the resources you already have at your disposal.
From playing indoor games to making fun treats together, you can pass the time inside until the sun goes down outside. Check out these tips for maximizing your enjoyment if you have to be inside with your children…
Create a Toy Wash
Your kids probably have a lot of plastic toys, and they’ve probably been handled a lot as well. So why not create a sanitation station for them to give them a clean while also occupying them for a while?
You can do this quite simply by filling a bin with kid-safe soap and water, while also providing sponges and other cleaning tools such as scrub brushes, suggests Time. Provide an area using towels to let them drip dry afterwards. You might want to put towels under the bin as well so you don’t end up with a big mess.
Build an Indoor Obstacle Course
While obstacle courses are traditionally outdoors, don’t let that be an obstacle to your fun. You probably already have all of the items you need to create an indoor obstacle course – for example, your cushions can become imaginary “balls of lava” that your kids have to jump over, and your dining room table can serve as a tunnel to climb through, suggests Popsugar.com.au.
Before you start, clear the space (in one of your biggest rooms like the basement) and make sure there are no hazards such as sharp edges. You can time your kids running the course, or add extra challenge by having them do the course while walking backwards, adds the source.
Create a Scavenger Hunt
Just because you’re indoors, doesn’t mean you can’t feel the thrill of the hunt! You could simply write down a long list of descriptors such as “something squishy” or “something blue” and have your kids check them off as they find them around the house.
As a variation, Good Housekeeping suggests instead of a list of items, you could put together several clues that all lead to one grand prize. There are many variations of scavenger hunts from the source that are suitable whether you’re at home or able to trek outdoors.
Assemble a Paper City
Perhaps you still have some spent toilet paper rolls that haven’t made it to the recycling bin yet. If so, you can turn those into decorative towers, complete with roofs made of folded paper, suggests Today’s Parent.
Get creative with the “buildings” – you can add different kid-friendly paint colors for each, and you can create doors that swing open with some simple cutting. Add windows by drawing them on or cutting them out from other materials and using a glue stick to apply them, it adds. (You’re not limited to using toilet rolls – you can create buildings from tissue boxes or anything else you have in the house).
Make Homemade Puzzles
Puzzles are fun, and they can eat up hours indoors as you and your kids literally try to piece it together. You have a couple of options when it comes to doing a puzzle: you can dust off those old puzzles from the attic, or you can make your own puzzle from scratch, notes Today’s Parent.
For the latter option, get a big piece of cardboard or Bristol board. Have them draw a picture (which can take up time in itself) and then use a pencil to outline the pieces on the drawing (the more pieces you draw, the higher the difficulty will be). Cut them using scissors, and then mix them up and get to it! As an alternative, if you have a photo/inkjet printer, you can print your fave photo on regular paper, glue (or mod podge) it to the board and then follow the same steps.
Create a Cupcake Decoration Station
Hopefully, you already have all of the ingredients at home to bake some cupcakes. For this part of the activity, an adult will be in charge of putting them into the oven and taking them out – but that doesn’t mean the kids can’t get involved in the mixing by hand if you choose to go that route.
But the real fun is letting the kids decorate the cupcakes after they’re baked. Good Housekeeping says you can create a “make-your-own dessert bar” by putting out all kinds of toppings from frosting to sprinkles that can be added to a plain cupcake or into an ice cream sundae.
Host a Dance Party
If your child has been inside all day, you might have a bit of trouble getting them to sleep at a decent hour. Not to mention, kids still need to get enough daily exercise for optimal health. So how do you get around this dilemma?
Well, you can try the obstacle course that was already suggested. Or, you can get down and boogie to your favorite tunes. Let your kids choose the songs they like the best (or choose one together as suggested by Good Housekeeping), and have a dance-off – challenge each other to perform a dance routine, or just go freestyle to the beat. Either way, dancing is good exercise and it’s also great to beat the indoor blues.
Make Screen Time Interactive
Let’s be honest, if your kids are inside all day, you’re probably not going to have the time (or energy) to engage with them the entire time. However, instead of just putting on some YouTube shows and letting them zone out all day (although there are some good ones for kids), you can use the screen to your advantage in fun and interactive ways.
For example, there are a variety of apps that allow people to play popular games such as Charades and Pictionary virtually with friends and neighbors. Other games you can play using video apps include Yahtzee and even bingo, as outlined by TechRepublic.com.