15 Activities To Do With Your Children When You’re Stuck Inside
After hearing from so many parents who were at home with their children this winter and not sure how to pass the time, I decided to put together a list of indoor activities.
As the Norwegian saying goes, "There is no bad weather, only bad gear." While I love this way of looking at things, the reality is there are days when we're just not up for braving the weather.
Other times a child is ill or the parents are sick, and leaving the house just isn't a possibility.
Fresh air and vitamin D are sooo important to our health, but being expected to go outside and play when their bodies really need to rest can be counterproductive.
I think we need to be extra careful during the winter to really listen to our bodies and those of our children. Honoring their knowledge about their own bodies is so key.
So if you have one child needing to rest and stay inside and one needing to play, what do you do? Or what if you're sick and have a very bouncy energetic toddler to hang with all day? Or what if you just don't want to brave the weather?
Lots of creativity is necessary. Indoor play can be a really great tool. Here are some ideas for indoor activities to keep everyone entertained when the weather or crud has got ya staying in.
15 Ideas for Indoor Play:
1. Build a Fort
Get out some sheets, pillows and chairs and go to town! There are also some fort building or tunnel pieces you can purchase, but it isn't necessary at all. The fun is in building something new every time.
Forts are great for independent play, and your child will likely love to go to their "secret hideaway" and play by themselves. They may want to take in some books, dolls, trucks, or their favorite game. Let them make it their own.
2. Obstacle Course
Anything can become an obstacle course and help get some of that energy out that is usually burned off by being outside. Think of fun ways to use your furniture and decor.
For instance, they could hop from pillow to pillow, climb under a chair, do a forward roll and then run down the hallway to the finish line. Older toddlers & children are going to have the most fun with this but those who are younger will enjoy trying out these things and following your lead.
3. Arts & Crafts
I believe having art supplies available at all times is important. This doesn't mean you need paint out at all times, or some kind of project available at all times. Quite the opposite, just a way for them to draw when the creative bug strikes. We have a chalkboard and white board accessible constantly.
Besides that, getting out the paints and stickers and craft supplies is a great way to support their imagination and creativity. You could even do an "art project", but that's not always necessary. Free form art is extremely beneficial.
The most important thing here is in checking you perfectionist tendencies as they create. Don't peer over their shoulders and make sure they are coloring in the lines or cutting things "correctly". Let it flow, let them experiment and make it fun not stressful! I see sooo many parents micro managing art and creativity, so I feel this is an important tip to mention.
4. Sensory Activities
Most things are technically sensory activities to children, but for this I'm speaking specifically about things that expose children to different tactile textures.
A tub filled with water, rice, beans, fresh snow, or flour with some measuring cups or toys to use for pouring is a great way to encourage their sensory development. Things like playdoh, and kinetic sand are also excellent sensory activities. Allow your children to combine some of their other toys like cars or play animals with these new textures to create landscapes.
5. Cook Something
Cooking is an amazing activity for children, and one that is so important to learn. Children as young as 18 months can start to cut soft things with a dull children's knife, crack eggs, stir together ingredients, and push the buttons for a crock pot or blender.
Not only is this an enjoyable activity filled with sensory and motor skill learning, it's yummy too! Making easy recipes like energy balls, granola, or fruit / veggie chips is something most children can help with in some way.
6. Indoor Physical Play
There are a few things you can purchase to help your children get the physical play they need while being inside. I love the idea of having a climbing wall in the house. Some people use one wall of their kids room for this, while we are probably going to put up climbing grips in our hallway. You can get grips many places, just make sure to check safety precautions for installation.
Another option is a doorway jungle gym. I haven't personally used this but it looks amazing. We also love our balance board. And don't underestimate the energy release that happens after jumping on the couch, bed or running around the house. Plus, this is free!
7. Yoga and Mindfulness
For the times you need a little more calm, yoga and mediation are great! Young toddlers aren't going to have the attention span to sit long, but even so, it's a great thing to practice.
I love the meditation app Calm. I set it for the one minute mediation and let my son pick the sound. He sits for about half the time, falls over for fun, and then sits again. But the important thing is he enjoys it and he's learning.
Another one of our favorite things is Cosmic Kids Yoga. The website is wonderful and you can also watch from their YouTube channel. I put it on our tv and my son loves to follow along. There are also some wonderful yoga books for children that show different yoga poses you can pick up at your local library.
8. Play a Game
Playing games like Hide & Seek, Sardines, Simon Says, and Hot Lava (apparently called The Floor is Lava), are great ideas to keep the fun and excitement going while stuck inside. Some of my favorite memories from childhood include playing these very games.
If you have young toddlers, they will not be able to fully grasp these games but will enjoy the physical activity and excitement nevertheless. Hide & Seek will probably turn into Peek-a-boo, and Hot Lava will become jumping around. But that's ok, those are awesome to toddlers!
9. Play Board Games
Whether you break out the puzzles or the board games, spending some time working their minds strategically is a great way to pass the time. For your infants and young toddlers, simple puzzles and games that require sorting or putting objects into vessels are the way to go.
For your 2.5 year olds and older, jigsaw puzzles, Memory, Sorry, and other simple board games are wonderful. These are also great activities especially if it's you who is under the weather. They keep things relatively quiet and calm.
10. Get Theatrical
Grab those musical instruments and put on a concert, or crank up the music and have a dance party! You can make a table or your fireplace mantel the stage!
Or you could get out the stuffed animals or dolls and put on a puppet show. Or dress up and put on a play! Act out your favorite book or movie or a favorite fairy tale. There are no limits to what you can create! Let your imagination guide you and your children!
11. Dress Up
Hats, gloves, jewelry, shoes, glasses, and scarves are all wonderful tools for dressing up. You don't need "dress up clothes" from big box stores, and actually I think those hinder imaginative play. The simpler, the better.
A piece of fabric can be so many things. For older kids, it can become a super hero with a cape, a royal with a robe, or wrap themselves up in it and become a mummy. An old hat can transform your children into a train conductor, a fire fighter, or a boat captain. For younger children, just putting on the different pieces and walking around is more than enough fun.
12. Clean Up
Starting as toddlers, children LOVE to help out around the house. So let them! It's a great way to help them feel a part of the family and learn important skills. Not to mention, these things are developmentally beneficial for them!
There are many chores and cleaning your children can help with. It may feel like it's harder to do with them, but keeping chores fun for them will be beneficial to you in the future, I promise you! Soon enough they will WANT to do these things themselves (winning!).
Let them help with: feeding the animals, doing the dishes, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping, vacuuming (if they aren't afraid of it), taking out the garbage, putting away groceries, laundry and putting away the clothes, cleaning up the toys, etc. Again, check your perfectionism and expectations around this. You will probably have to redo whatever they just did, so just keep that in mind as you go into it.
13. Quiet Time
Even if your littles aren't napping anymore, having some down time each day is necessary. Let them pick out some books, put on some calming music, and get cozy.
If you want more tips on how to create a quiet time once your children aren't napping anymore, sign up to my newsletter HERE, because that blog is coming soon!
14. Imaginative Play
Imaginative play happens gradually as your children grow. By the age of 18-24 months, your child will want to pretend. Sometimes this will come in the form of pretending to cook or play with dolls. It will graduate into pretending to be different animals and eventually around 3, they will be excellent at pretending up different scenarios.
Right now my son is obsessed with pretending there's a cockroach in the house. Thankfully I realized right away that this was imaginative play and not him trying to freak us out or lie intentionally, otherwise, treating it as something negative would have hindered his ability to make believe. Play along, it is a game after all! It reminds me of my favorite scene in the movie Hook, when they are trying to get Peter Pan to use his imagination!
15. Build Something
For the littles, simple wood blocks are the best. As they get older, there is a wide array of building sets to choose from. We adore our Tegu blocks, and love to use them for all kinds of building. Use other toys in combination with the blocks to foster more in depth play as they get older. We like to use cars and make a track or tunnel, or build crazy looking buildings and have our Yoga Joes do parkour off of them!
Older children will undoubtably love Legos, Magna Tiles, or any other building toys that click together and make different structures. The possibilities are endless here. However, I always like to keep these types of toys true to their natural form to encourage as much creative play as possible - meaning sticking to playing with a bag of all kinds of Legos instead of buying sets that stay as a specific character or place.
Awareness Over Perfection
Play takes practice for many adults. Many of us have lost our ability to let go and be silly. Use this as an opportunity to connect again with your inner child. Nothing on this list can be done wrong. Allow your children to take the lead and see what kind of adventure unfolds. And don't forget to enjoy the ride!
Tell Your Story
Are any of these ideas new to you? What are your favorite indoor activities? Which indoor activities do your children like the most? Tell me in the comments.