Mom-Tested, Kid-Approved Indoor Funk
Parenting is full of excitement and challenges. One of the most challenging aspects of parenting includes keeping your little humans active and engaged during the long winter months. “Winter is seriously the hardest. The stir-crazy kids, the germs, the being stuck inside. It gets to you after a very short time,” says Monica Wells, Kansas City, KS, mom. When the slick roads, the cold winds and the threat of every virus known to man combine to keep you and your kids home for extended periods of time, life can get chaotic. “The kids’ energy levels don’t subside just because we can’t go out and play,” says Robin Allen, Olathe mom. So, how do you keep your kids from bouncing off the walls while you are stuck inside? We have five tips to keep your winter days wonderful!
Work It Out. Regular exercise helps to reduce risk factors of cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to a multitude of studies. The science makes a great argument for being active, but we parents know our kids are happier when they have outlets for their endless energy. “My kids are happier and, as a family, we get along better when we exercise. Staying active is a key to our sleep habits, how we eat and our ability to relax during the downtimes,” says Laura Purdue, Olathe mom. Staying active when you are stuck in the house gets a bit complicated, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Try getting your kids involved in a regular workout routine. You can try making obstacle courses in the living room, playing red-light-green-light or Simon Says or have a push-up contest. Try workout videos or invent some routines yourself! These small efforts can make all the difference and can get your blood pumping!
Get Crafty. In today’s Pinterest world, crafting is always an option. But it doesn’t have to be over-the-top or stressful. Choose projects that align with your kids’ interests and your household vibes. “I look to Pinterest now and then, but mostly we do crafts that fit with what is going on with our family at the time,” Joelle Martin, Kansas City, MO, mom says. “We make cards for neighbors and friends. We paint pictures for people on their birthdays.” Coloring in a coloring book, making paper dolls or drawing a picture for the grandparents are all crafts that excite the imagination. And craft time offers bonus benefits. Children who use their hands for cutting, coloring, writing and playing with Play-Doh develop stronger hand muscles and greater finger dexterity—all of which help with the ability to write and to hold a pencil correctly. Crafting at home is a boredom buster that can help set your child up for success down the road!
Mix It Up in the Kitchen. “Cooking is our go-to in the winter. Not only is it fun for the kids, it helps me with meal planning!” says Gretchen Kelley, Shawnee mom. Cooking with your kids sounds like a great way to make a mess, but it is also a great way to make memories and happily pass a cold, wintry afternoon. No matter what is on the menu, kids love to help. And teaching them about nutrition, where their food comes from and how dinner gets on the table are life lessons important at any age! Try checking out some kid-friendly cookbooks from the library or finding some online tutorials to get you started. Before you know it, you could be cooking up meals with the next Top Chef Junior!
Learn, Learn, Learn. Just because you are stuck inside doesn’t mean you have to put learning and fun on hold. From online learning apps to playing Crazy Eights, you can find a million ways to teach your children while having fun indoors. “We set up flash card challenges. We play board games. I have some workbooks, but I actually feel like my kids learn more through imaginative play, playing with toys or dressing up,” says Samantha Brown, Overland Park mom. Designating a theme day can help to narrow down your choices. Choose a topic, a period in history or an animal to learn more about. Incorporate your theme into the stories for the day, your dress-up games and your snacks to help make learning fun and interactive. Your local library is a great place to go to add depth to any topic!
Explore KC! If the roads are safe, exploring Kansas City in the winter is well worth it! The metro offers lots of places to go get some exercise and have some indoor fun. In addition to spots dedicated to children’s entertainment around KC, you can explore great places to learn more about our city.
For indoor exercise, try Urban Air in Overland Park, Sky Zone in Shawnee and Lee’s Summit, Rainbow Play Systems in Olathe and Zona Rosa shopping area in Kansas City. If you can make it outside, try exploring the National World War I Memorial & Museum or checking out the architecture on the Plaza. Kansas City is host to a number of wonderful museums that offer great learning opportunities for kids. Try the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the American Jazz Museum and the American Royal Museum.
Our local grocery stores, the post office and the police or fire stations can provide great opportunities to learn about the community and how those services benefit each of us. Visit our KC Going Places guide for inspiration!
If Pinterest ideas pique your interest, here are some of 2018’s top tactics for keeping kids engaged during the winter!
- Make your own play dough.
- Create car tracks with masking tape and race Hot Wheels.
- Set up an indoor obstacle course.
- Get messy with DIY slime.
- Make your own photo booth and capture some memories.
- Cut out snowflakes.
- Paint pinecones (or make pinecone penguins).
- Create art with toilet paper rolls, Q-tips and cotton balls.
- Make your own snow or snow slime.
- Build a fort indoors.
Melissa Bellach is a freelance writer, wife and mom of three living in Overland Park.