The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn't mean your experience with the children inside has to be also. This is where gently used kid gear comes in, be that games, toys, puzzles, art or pretend play involving the couch, pillows and a lot of blankets. Make this winter fun for everyone by stashing a few indoor entertainment ideas in your pocket and get ready for some time hanging out in the house.
Just because you're inside that doesn't mean active toys and physical play are out of the question. For something to get kiddos moving, strike up a game of hot lava where you put cushions and pillows or towels on the "safe spots" and let them leap around. If your child longs for the warm days of summer by the pool think about filling up the bathtub, lowering the shower curtain inside the tub, and let them splash and splash until they're tired or the water is cold. Balloons too are useful on inside days and make the perfect lightweight "ball" that you can bounce up, play catch with and try and keep from touching the ground. Finally, don't underestimate the joy of a simple dance party, and if you have a smart speaker then everyone can be a DJ.
Active toys prove perfect for when a kid is alone or wants to play with a friend. Think toy cars zooming around your house in mad races; a Playskool Sit N' Spin that can rotate in one spot in endless dizzy circles; and pop-up play areas with tunnels to explore and crawl through or climb on like the Cranium Super Fort Carnival Clubhouse. Items that don't take a lot of physical energy but can tire out your sons and daughters mentally include things such as a marble run where they have to build obstacle courses; building sets that involve gears; or mind toys like the Perplexus maze balls that can keep a kid engaged for a long time as they figure it out.
Don't rule out cooking either. It's cold and an ideal time to have the oven on. This way not only are you doing something with your child, but teaching them important skills too. Plus you get an afternoon snack out the deal, be that cookies, brownies, banana bread, blueberry muffins or any other tasty treat.
This is a great time to bring out a box of toys your little ones have forgotten they have. At home we stack up boxes of toys in the closet so they feel fresh when we crave something new, unlike the piles of superheroes that constantly litter the floor, table, beds, car and stairs. This includes magnet blocks, play tools, plastic animal sets, fake food and puzzles-wooden for the under 3 set and jigsaw for the older kids.
Another trick, stocking up on new toys they have never seen. Buying bundles of gently used or even open box toys help make this technique economical and fun. LEGO sets prove a great example, and every time our family opens a new one that's at least 30 minutes of peace and quiet before someone needs a little help or wants to incorporate their new set into a full-on LEGO-thon. New coloring books, activity pads and any toy that requires interaction work well for this too.
For younger kids, LeapFrog or VTech electronic toys are key, such as the "tablets," "laptops" and "cellphones." You can find this type of toy in excellent second hand condition, and Good Buy Gear makes sure any passed-down electronic device has batteries for instant play. It might get a little noisy, but sometimes it's easier to tune out the alphabet song playing over and over than a toddler's constant whine for who-knows-what.
For kids 2-years-old and up games are a winter staple, be that board games, solitary games or more creative games. One of the best ways to keep the cabinet of curiosity fresh is by buying bundles of games used or participating in a local game swap (or start your own with some families nearby). The nice thing about getting a cache of fresh games is no one will pout because you're picking the one his sister always wins or will have played the game so many times that frankly, it gets a little boring. Yes, we're talking to you Candy Land.
Luckily so many games are on the market, both classics like my son's aforementioned-and-beloved Candy Land as well as versions of Shoots and Ladders (we like the superhero set), Jenga, Monopoly and Apples to Apples. Another good thing about getting gently used bundles of these games from an online consignment shop like Good Buy Gear is if your kid doesn't seem into it, the loss doesn't really matter since you spent $15 on four games. Plus, you can always resell any sets your family is sick of.
Of course tangible games aren't the only way to go. Cue up a bout of hide n'seek, it's the perfect activity to let the kids run around. Bonus, you can hide too, and do it so well they can't seek you out. If you have room, Duck, Duck, Goose or Musical Chairs are good options too, and have the bonus of getting some of that pent-up energy spent.
Children also love make believe, and you can surely whittle away the hours during a blizzard with your imagination. Take a pile of blankets and work on a fort. A fitted sheet proves great for stretching and hooking across chairs, and once the cloth structure has be erected let your little ones have a flashlight and play inside, with or without a troupe of stuffed animals.
This is a good time to also break out that tiny tea set or play kitchen and let your littles serve you for once. Melissa & Doug make some great wooden food sets that have scenes already built into play, for example a recent windy and cold Friday afternoon was perfect for opening up this company's diner set, which involved a menu, ticket to write down items and cost, fake money and plenty of cute food and dishes to work with. We were waited on hand and food for a solid hour.
Let's not forget that good old cardboard box. Hand over the box of crayons and let the kids turn it into a spaceship, spruce it up for their horde of dinosaurs or create the ultimate baby doll bed.
Break out the paper, colored pencils, coloring books and ideas and start creating. Often we have a few art kits on hand for days when we can't go outside, it not only diverts energy but solidifies a goal and finished project in mind. A lot of parents end up with art kits they never use, and often they get sold on Good Buy Gear; and you can also find cheap ones on sale at places like Michaels and Target. Snatch these up and save them for that cold day, you'll be happy to have a pile of neat things to work on.
Cold weather also proves the prefect excuse to have your kids start working on making holiday cards or thank you notes. Cut out folded squares and let them decorate as desired. If it's before the holidays you can also plan out crafty gifts to give to the grandparents and let making and/or decorating said items be the entertainment for that afternoon. And if all else fails, there's always snowsuits and layers and layers of hats, gloves and boots.