Is Mother Nature keeping you indoors? Being stuck inside with the kids all day sounds like the plot of a horror movie, but with some planning, you'll all enjoy your day together.
For parents or nannies looking for things to do with kids inside, there are a lot more options than a cartoon channel or DVD. Here are eight ideas for ways to break up the day and have fun while doing it.
Create a Schedule
Nicole, who blogs at Moments Mom, suggests that you first, "Sketch out the day on a chalkboard or piece of paper so the kids know what to expect." Break up the day into small sections of time and incorporate multiple activities, snacks and meals. Get the kids' input -- they'll enjoy having a say in what they do and it will help prevent the "I'm bored!" whining.
Read a Story
Regardless of a child's age, it's important to encourage a love of reading. Whether it's looking at a picture book with a toddler, animated eBook on your tablet or simply taking turns reading aloud, this is a way to spend one section of your day in a productive way. There are numerous online sites with free eBook downloads for children of all ages. Barnes & Noble's website offers a free online storytime that features new and classic children's books read by authors or celebrities.
Craft a Club House
Create a fort out of pillows, blankets and furniture. Kids can even decide on a theme. Is this a fort in the middle of the jungle, where all members are animals? Or maybe it's a magical time travel fort that transports you to different periods in history.
Build a Race Car Track
Little boys and girls who love their Hot Wheels will have a blast constructing their very own track. All you need is masking tape! Find out more here.
Play with Your Food
It can be tempting to leave your kids out of the meal-making process, especially since it will probably be easier and less messy to do so. However, getting your children involved in cooking is a great way to spend quality time together. The food will taste that much better when everyone has helped to prepare it.
Developmental therapist, Courtney Allen, who works with Illinois' Early Intervention Program, says, "Involving small children in the kitchen can help with imaginative play, which builds creativity and vocabulary." Nicole suggests working simple math problems together while waiting for food to finish cooking, like having, "younger kids separate and group beans or small candies by color."
Exert Some Energy
Being cooped up can be a little difficult, especially for small children. Dedicate a portion of the day to some movement, whether it's dancing out the sillies or doing fun exercises to music. Not only will your children enjoy moving around and exerting energy, but, "short intervals of dance and exercise can help younger children to focus more intently on activities that require more concentration," says Allen.
Make Clean up a Game
Part of the fun of playing is making a mess. But when it comes to clean up time, kids usually run and hide. However, making cleanup a fun activity can help to motivate them to organize their things. A great trick is using numbered or colored baskets for smaller items. (For example, IKEA's Kusiner Storage Baskets are colored and numbered with handy loops for hanging.) Use them in toss games for cleaning up crayons, building blocks, toy cars or other small items.
Sara Lugardo is a freelance writer in Chicago.