Oh, being stuck inside with kids! Whether it is summer rain, winter snow or a spring cold snap, I look forward to those days inside!
Said no parent ever…
As adults, we look forward to lazy days inside, we plan them ahead, months prior, in our minds and inside our journals on what we will do with unexpected “days off”. We create special to “to do” lists like organizing a closet or finally reading that special book.
Unless you have kids. Then snow days and bad weather days are not about you and I feel your pain. Sure, the children love being home and not having school, and I’m sure you love seeing their smiles and enjoy their snuggles and hugs and cook them meals wholeheartedly to munch on, even if that meal consists of frozen corn dogs. (Author’s note: This parent is not a judge and she has totally done frozen corn dogs for dinner. Desperate times call for frozen desperate measures)
Yet, behind the scenes, you brace yourself for endless piles of dirty laundry and even mountains of clean laundry that needs to be folded, messy bedrooms, brathrooms that constantly need scrubbing, paint on the floor (“I better NOT find it on my furniture!”) and truck loads of crumbs on the floor that makes you think Hansel and Gretel keep passing through the living room. About three times an hour. Everyday.
Over the winter holidays, my house was “blessed” in many ways; we all got very sick quarantined ourselves inside. So naturally, my son broke our TV. He pushed it off the table to meet its demise. Too sick to go out, too bored to be inside; add in strep throat, the children getting cabin and real fever. Every parent’s dream!
(Authors note: enter Mission Impossible theme)
So, no TV and no going out, what is a budding Parent of the Year going to do? The best that you can. Here are a few tricks I used to get through the cold holiday season without spending a dime. OK, perhaps a few dollars if you don’t already have all the junk I used:
- Meal Time: No, I’m not referring the act of eating, as you obviously already feed your brood. What I mean here is let THEM make the meals with you. No matter how big or
small your children are, chances are there will always be something they can do, as long as you keep them away from the eggs. We tried making pizza in my house and my daughter was amazed by the idea of handling dough AND choosing her own toppings, pie size and thickness of dough. Bonus is they learn they can do things on their own and they are proud of themselves.
- Clean up, pick up, wash the dishes: We seldom realize how excited children at such young age are keen on participating in housework. I used to tell my children to just keep out of my way while doing my daily chores, but on holidays, I make an exception. Everyone is responsible for cleaning messes and doing chores: mop your puddles, make your bed, fold your clothes and wash the dish you used. Of course, most of the time, I must re-wash the dishes, but that is all ok with me; they may be young now, but growing up while depending on themselves suits my goals for them. This can also be applied on sorting laundry, picking up toys, mopping or sweeping and basically any other chore. Just find them a role that fits their wonderful energy!
- Feathers, pom-poms and washable paint: Look, a bit of dollar tree supplies never hurts anyone, and it doesn’t even matter how old your children are. I keep mine busy for hours at times, creating artistic pieces that can either be suitable to hang on your fridge, or beyond recognition that they end up someplace else, which I will not be explicit about in case my kids read this article in the future! Keyword is WASHABLE PAINT, unless you enjoy shopping for clothes over and over again in addition to forever seeing paint stains on furniture, walls and floors.
- Box of Wonders: Ever heard about those monthly subscription boxes? This is similar, only this is a box of pure junk. Get one of those boxes lying around and fill it up with anything that is safe to handle by a child. Got a hairclip? Add it. Got a plastic cup? Add it. Spoons? Old toys they forgot about? Any kind of brush? Shredded paper? We all know we have a load of trash items in our houses, unless you are Marie Kondo, only then you
don’t have trash. Bonus points: they boost their creativity, you can declutter by throwing out the items they are done with and you can replace the items with new-old ones every single day
- Build towers with disposable plastic cups (curtesy of a friend): Buy a few packs of disposable plastic cups in different colors. Have your kids stack them up and build towers then knock them down. Repeat. You are welcome! Hope you enjoy the free couple of hours you will get.
- And finally, exercise. This one includes you too. Any type of exercise indoors is guaranteed to attract your children to do it with you, even if that means them jumping on top of you. Bonus, this contributes to better sleep at night for all of you!
Survival of the Fittest
Those were the 6 ways we used during weather and illness lock downs to keep our children occupied. Some of them worked wonders, some were…to be charitable…minor and very short term distractions. I must warn you that you will face a mountain of clutter afterwards; which is exactly why I am late turning in this article. Lucky for me, I’ve been getting some inspiration from KonMari in decluttering the house, so I have not been as frustrated as I was in the past.
If your TV is not broken like mine and you do not mind your kids using electronics, this is of course the generation’ universal way of keeping themselves busy and out of your way!
These can work during any weekend, long weekend, family reunion and sick days.
Congratulations on your survival of this indoor quest, fellow parent! Now, go ahead and start cleaning; those paper shreds won’t sweep themselves! And move your laundry into the dryer.
And check out RightSizeLife.com for all the updates on upcoming indoor events when the weather and general family health permits.
Nida Ammar is the the Communications Lead for CCTRONIC, a design engineering firm focusing on helping farmers and agriculture producers improve their output and efficiency while preserving and respecting the environment. She is also a regular contributor for RSL, including feature articles and providing information for Shoppers on Site. When not writing Nida rides herd on her two kids, one husband and lives in downtown Toledo.