Once you have an active little one on your hands, it can be tough to face the prospect of spending a full day indoors due to foul weather. Maybe conditions are just too chilly, or intense wind and weather are keeping you from outdoor exploration. Either way, when the weather outside is frightful, it can be good to have some entertaining indoor activities in your back pocket. The right sort of play can make a day spent indoors feel super fun – and keep both you and your toddler from feeling like you want to crawl up the walls.
- Create a pillow fort or another sort of creative play space – maybe a hideout, a campsite, a spaceship, or a boat – from blankets and pillows, boxes and bins. Just let Baby follow her imagination and see where things lead! When you move into your fort, don’t forget to bring along all the important stuff, like a book and flashlight, some stuffed friends, and any special gear you might need – like a paper towel roll that could serve as a spyglass/telescope/alien finder. Maybe even have your little one pack a special bag of toys for the adventure. Even if the play space ends up a little messy and, oh, in the middle of your living room all day, it will pay off with tons of fun.
- Bake or cook a dish or meal together. Choose a kid-friendly recipe that your little one can help you measure and mix, or even shape and roll. Whether it’s a something that you’ll eat for dinner later or a special occasion cookie, let her really get involved, even if you don’t usually have her get involved in meal prep. Even if there’s a little more mess, a little more sugar, or if it takes longer than it would if you didn’t have Baby acting like your little kitchen helper, it’s a great way to pass the time, build good associations with cooking, and start to practice some basic skills.
- Make snack time special with an indoor picnic. You could snack on something appropriately themed for the cold weather – like hot cocoa or marshmallows with pretzel sticks that have been transformed into snowmen – or even your usual snack time goods. If you lay out a blanket and invite some stuffed animal friends to join you, it will be that much more exciting.
- Craft time! If your usual arts and crafts time involves something simple like crayons and craft dough, this could be the day to take on a more involved project. Break out the extra special craft accessories (like paints, stickers, and pipe cleaners) – or maybe even just raid your paper recycling (to find egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, or cereal boxes), your pantry (to find dried pasta), or your medicine cabinet (to find cotton balls) for supplies – and get crafting! You could pick a project in advance – maybe something with cotton balls inspired by the snowy weather – or be inspired by what you find, like deciding to construct and color some recycled cardboard robots or paint and string some dried pasta necklaces. Prep for a mess – you might want to put down a tarp, a trash bag, or throw a painter’s smock or old t-shirt over your little one – and then let Baby have at it!
- Read snowy weather books or other seasonal stories and talk about them together.
- Speaking of story time, you can also use puppets, stuffed animals, or other toy friends to make up and act out a silly story – maybe have a puppet show or stuffed animal parade. And don’t forget to do silly voices! Baby is sure to be delighted and may even get involved with some silly voices of her own.
- “Hide and Seek” – always entertaining, and no supplies necessary. Depending on how old your little one is, this might involve just a single room and some not-so-secret “hiding,” but it will be fun, regardless.
- Play other games that don’t call for any extra supplies. Games like “Red Light, Green Light,” “Mother, May I?” and “Simon Says” are classics for a reason and get your little one moving without being too wild for inside the house.
- A treasure hunt! Take a favorite stuffed animal or other toy and hide it somewhere in the room. Again, this game will be shaped by just how old Baby is – you might be able to ask her to cover her eyes while counting to ten as you hide the toy, or you might simply count to ten while you hide it and she keeps her eyes open. Then have Baby run and search for the toy. The goal here is play, not tricking her, so you can also describe where you’ve hidden the toy if she gets stumped.
- In a similar vein, you can play a more tactile version of the game “I Spy” where you describe what and where a toy or object is, and then have her find the object in the room.
- If you know other little ones and their caregivers who might also be looking for ways to pass the time indoors on a blustery day, give them a call and see if you can have a playdate. Playmates always make the day go by that much more quickly because they come with built-in fun. And if that’s not possible, you can always spend some time video chatting with friends or family members – maybe Baby can even show off her pillow fort or pasta necklace!
- Have a dance party! Put on some tunes and cut loose. Sometimes this is extra fun if you’re grooving to songs that have a special dance, like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” You can play a favorite set of songs, a favorite album, or put on something brand new and learn a new dance – some ballet to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, perhaps? You can even step it up a notch by pausing the music to play “Freeze Dance!”
- Put together a seasonal sensory bin for Baby to explore, filled with “winter wonderland” items – like cotton balls, pinecones, mittens, and any other (safe!) objects that remind you of the chillier time of year.
- Take out all the toys! (Well… within reason.) If you usually try to keep your little one’s play area relatively tidy, maybe this is a day where you can let Baby take out all their dolls, stuffed animals, and action figures for one great big party. Or gather all her toy instruments together so that she can perform as a one-child orchestra. Or let your little engineer break out all her blocks – Legos and wooden and foam, oh my! – to make one giant block city. This sort of excess usually makes for really memorable and super fun play.
- If all else fails, spring for some movie time. While Baby shouldn’t be getting tons of screen time – and when she does, you’ll want to make sure that you engage with her – on a day like this, showing a movie isn’t so bad, especially if you make it special. Snuggle up under some blankets or hunker down in that pillow fort, grab a snack, and watch a classic or new flick together.
Cold weather doesn’t need to slow you or Baby down, but it can be a great time for a change of pace as you try out some activities you might not do every day!