Rain, snow, too much sun, wind that blows debris into kids' eyes or below-freezing temperatures--there are a lot of reasons to stay inside. But don't let a little weather ruin the weekend! Make the most of indoor days with the right kid gear and a dose of creative fun for the whole family.
One of the challenging things about being inside is the energy kids have. They want to run, jump, climb and play hard. Instead of letting your living room become a disaster zone, channel that spirit elsewhere. For starters, Good Buy Gear sells a lot of indoor active toys and kid gear at prices good enough you can stock up on an invigorating selection. Think Fisher-Price's Sit and Spin, a small plastic disk with a wheel that children wrap their bodies around to propel it in stationary circles. Make it a competition between siblings or friends--whomever can spin the longest wins, and you win by tiring them out.
Another great second-hand toy to utilize are ride ons, be that a Minnie Mouse airplane, the Ybike Pewi Ride On or a car that uses tiny kid legs to propel it across the basement floor. Host races or just have them run errands for you. Skip the motorized ones, you want your littles to spend energy, not conserve it. Older kids can stretch their muscles with a game of Twister, perfecting the art of walking blocks or even some controlled pogo stick bouncing. Also don't underestimate the power of crape paper or sting. Creating a "ninja" course in your house by taping up these pieces will help work on dexterity and entertain at the same time.
Art is great anytime, but when you have to be inside kids might as well tap into that creative side. Having a dedicated art area and/or an easel can be helpful during these times, if anything so you don't have to worry about cleaning up messes all over the house. We also always keep some art kits on hand for these moments, and there are so many types out there for all ages from rock painting to bead stringing to a personal favorite, Shrinky Dinks, those sheets of plastic you cut, color on and then bake so they turn tiny. Stocking up on these sorts of packs from Good Buy Gear or when stores are hosting sales proves a good investment, and if your kids outgrow the kit you stashed you can always use it for a gift at that next birthday party.
Of course pre-packaged kid gear isn't the only way to make art. Take old boxes and build cars or space ships, letting your kids sit inside the vessel to color in the control panels. If you have a lot of these boxes turn them into an epic house or obstacle course, something older kids will be able to build on their own. Large sheets of butcher paper can be turned into maps for epic adventuring, a life-sized outline of your kid that they can decorate, or the perfect piece to make banners celebrating birthdays, spring, daddy's promotion, and anything else. And if the indoor day comes when there are holidays or celebrations coming up, it's a good time to break out the construction paper and have a card making party.
Yes, even inside on a tame day we all need quiet time, whether or not your little ones still take naps. To help promote this in our busy, boy-filled home, we use a television show as a reward (and to also give the grownups a break) and the rest of the time is spent working on LEGO projects, personal art, reading and sometimes using an electronic activity device. The latter usually works for our younger son, age 2, who will punch buttons on a VTech activity cube or play quietly on a toy laptop for a while, with the sound one the lowest setting of course.
Don't underestimate the power of a new toy durning this time either. Often we keep a stash of gently used second-hand toys to break out when the parents need a break. Lately tiny superheroes have done the job and the boys play quietly at saving the world, battling bad guys and going potty (yes, they are that age). Even if the toy isn't a huge, expensive thing, sometime just a new doll or truck is all they need. This is also the time to fish out those toys you have saved for a rainy day, which just happens to be today. Out of sight out of mind techniques works will with kids, and a box of magnetic tiles or Lincoln logs can be played with for hours when seen as new.
Take out all the cars and get ready for friendly family race. Make a track before hand with cardboard boxes, or simply add lines to the floor with masking tape. Everyone can pick their favorites and the winner gets...well that's for you to decide. Other ways to use pretend play for quality family time include creating a zoo with all the plastic animals, letting your littles feed you with toy food, or create a stuffie hospital where bandages are given out and you teach your kids how to take care of creatures.
Another great way to bond when stuck indoors it through real cooking. There are plenty of kits out there geared toward kids who want to learn about making food such as Kiddoz's Chefclub and Foodstirs, and it's a fun excuse to let them get messy in the kitchen. Of course showing your sons and daughters how to make Grandma's signature chocolate chip cookies or turning lunch into an adventure in pizza bagels also makes for some tasty fun.
Costumes too can add to the excitement. We have a whole box of various pieces the kids can use to create personas. It's a brilliant way to get into pretend play and have them thinking about what it's like to be someone else. Grownups too can get in on the fun and don a witches hat, sparkly beads or cape. Better yet, play dress-up-hide-and-seek where the person found has to give the finder a piece of their costume. Whomever is best dressed at then end wins. Board games are another option, something you can buy gently-used in packs of three or five from Good Buy Gear for under $15.