Tricks to Keep Your Kids Happy When Stuck Indoors

On the perfect snow day, school is cancelled but the snow stops falling just as your kids are waking up, so you can feed them breakfast and hustle them outdoors to play. If you find the parent who has that kind of "in" with the snow gods, can you give them my number? I've yet to meet a perfect snow day.

Instead, we're usually stuck indoors as the snow falls and the wind blows and the teachers get a good laugh knowing we're just dealing with the same thing they suffer through every day. Stop staring longingly at those snow boots, Mom and Dad, just adopt some new tricks of the parenting trade (TV hounds need not apply):


Turn on the Music: A quiet house is bound to be filled with whining. A raucous living room full of dance tunes is bound to be filled with wiggling bodies getting good exercise, singing along, and laughing hysterically. Cue up the video camera: this is the stuff memories are made of.

Roll Out the Dough: Homemade pretzels, sugar cookies, anything that needs to be shaped and/or slathered in sprinkles or salt are perfect on a snow day. It warms up the house, keeps them occupied for a lengthy period of time, and introduces them to the wonders of making your own food. Win, win, win!

Take Turns Reading: We all love to be read to. Even Mom and Dad. And by school age, our kids can finally start showing off all the words they know. So don't just sit and read to them or send them off to their room with a good book; sit down together and trade the book back and forth reading aloud. You'll get a sense of how far your little grade schooler has come, and their body heat up against you on the couch is just the thing you need after an hour outside shoveling.

Make a Mural: One of my favorite scenes in the Ramona book series as a kid featured Ramona and her out-of-work dad rolling out giant reams of paper and making a mural that could be spread across the walls of their home. It tops "drawing a picture" any day. Don't have a roll of paper? Tape individual pieces together, and let their imaginations go wild.

Throw an Indoor Picnic: Who said you can't eat lunch on the floor? There's no scientific study (yet), but I'm sure anecdotal evidence will prove that everything tastes better when eaten 3 feet below the table top. Also: that peanut butter and jelly sandwich is going to get soggy if you leave it in the fridge until school reopens, so let them bring their lunch boxes to the picnic.

What are your non-TV time killers on a snow day?


Image by Jeanne Sager

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