Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: No-cost things to do with kids when it's cold outside!

Both A. and I have preschool aged kids and are used to filling every day with them. But those moms who have kids in school and live in our area are probably going crazy with 2 weeks of time to fill! It's freezing outside, and many of us are on budgets.

So here are some no-cost ideas for things to do on these cold, post-Christmas days.

  • Visit the local public library. We live within walking distance, know the staff, and can easily go spend 1-2 hours there. My toddler likes to use a library stool to move around and look at books and videos of his choosing. There are chairs set up in such a way that I can sit to read a newspaper or magazine while keeping one eye on him.

  • Visit a shut-in. We just finished with a wonderful Christmas, but there are several people I can think of who are shut in for one reason or another(recent foot surgery, had a new baby, elderly neighbor, etc.). Wouldn't it be a nice gift for you and your child(ren) to take a piece of art(coloring book page with scribbles or more elaborate Christmas craft) and visit that friend? Even a 30-minute visit would encourage a friend. If your kids protest, encourage them to bring along a favorite toy and do a "show and tell" time.

  • Visit a local museum. Our area has countless free museum options, and I love taking advantage of those free learning opportunities for me and my toddler. Perhaps your area has a children's museum that offers a weekly discount, or you could work out a discount by inviting your playgroup or circle of friends.

  • Host a playdate. Don't clean your house, and don't cook or bake. Just invite a friend who has a kid or kids, heat up the coffee pot or kettle, and sit down for a visit while your kids play. It's a great way for everyone to blow off some post-Christmas energy. Get out your kids' sit and spin, bouncy ball, etc. and encourage your kids to move around.

  • Throw a pool party or beach day in the bathroom. My toddler loves to play in the water, and I have a set of bath markers I found on clearance at CVS earlier this year waiting for just such a cold, home-based day. Encourage your kids to put on their swimsuits, get out the kid sunglasses, towels, and pool shoes, and send them to "the pool." Fill up the bathtub with bubbles, blow bubbles at them, and get out the beach or pool toys. Let them make a mess, then have them help you mop it up afterwards. Just think, the bathroom might even be cleaner! If it's the right time of day and you have ice cream in the freezer, you could even send an "ice cream truck" into the bathroom and let your kids eat while in the tub. Of course it would be messy; use discretion!

  • Pick a skill you want your child(ren) to learn and start teaching! I'm not a teacher by trade, and though I find it intimidating to teach sometimes, I do consider it a big, God-given responsibility to teach my toddler certain skills. For instance, I'd like him to be able to use a crayon better in the coming year, possibly learning to start writing actual letters and numbers. We'll be getting out the coloring books, doodle board and construction paper lots this winter. I'm also passionate about teaching him about money, so we'll be going through my wallet to start identifying different coins.

  • Cook or bake together. My toddler likes to make pancakes with sprinkles and jell-o. I love to be in the kitchen, and I want him to be just as comfortable and skilled when he leaves our home. Cooking or baking should be age appropriate, but you'd be surprised by what kids can do, even with clumsy hands and fingers! One day you could try putting together a cookie mix in a jar or plastic bag with an older child, then the next you could dump it out and mix it up with a different child. Click here for a long list of recipes and find one with ingredients you already have in your pantry. One afternoon you could put dry pancake mix together with one child, then the next morning you could surprise another child by taking pancakes made by the first child to the other (or Dad) in bed. Bake sugar cookies with your kids and allow them to cut out the cookies and decorate them, then take them to a shut-in per the aforementioned suggestion. The possibilities are endless; use your imagination to make kitchen time fun!

What works for you on these cold, home-based days?

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