When you're the mother (or father) of a child between the ages of 18 months and 4 years old, the winter can seem long, indeed. In the summer, hyper toddlers can be convinced to take a quick stroll around the block or to march off to the park for some playtime. They can go outside in the winter, too, but they often don't want to and doing so can be such a production (find the gloves, snowsuit, thick socks, boots, and battle to get it all on) that we decide it's not worth it.
Sometimes it seems like the best option is eight hours of Sesame Street a day until the sun comes back out sometime in April. Luckily, there are a lot of options besides TV to keep your toddler entertained through the winter months.
Here are a few ideas, and if you have more, feel free to add them. Fun winter activities to keep your toddler entertained:
- Arts & crafts: My daughter receives little arts and crafts kits all year-round as gifts from family and friends. I save them all up and then use them in the winter while her brother naps. Last week we made high fashion paper dolls and mommy may have become just a little too entranced by the project: "No honey! That's my glitter!" Another fun one is rubber stamping. My daughter has a princess stamping kit we use to tell our own artsy fairy tales. That game can last an hour. We also draw, color, paint, and have made window prisms all in the past couple weeks.
- Snow projects: If you have an activity table or even if you don't, bring in bowls of snow from the outside and play with them. Build a snowman in the bath tub. Squirt food coloring onto the snow and watch it change colors. Mix it with a little vanilla extract and milk and call it ice cream.
- Play dress-up: My kids love to put on plays and act out scenes from fairy tales. My daughter in particular loves to pretend to be Cinderella while I play the wicked stepmom (an aside: this is a great way to get her to clean her room, too) and her brother takes on multiple roles, including shoe fetcher. We can kill a whole afternoon acting out scenes from her favorite books and movies.
- Bring outdoor toys in: Obviously the dirty ones can stay outside, but kids get a big kick out of dragging in the slide (or the playhouse or the toy car), cleaning it off, and then using it inside as a special treat. It helps them blow off some energy, too.
- Baking: A perennial favorite, this can be a multi-hour project if you make something like sugar cookies from scratch. Besides the measuring and creating of the dough, there is also cutting it out and decorating. It also warms the house and fills it with great smells.
- Puzzles: For kids that love puzzles, this is a great one. Puzzles provide hours of focused entertainment and a great sense of accomplishment at the end.
- Cuddle: My favorite activity of all is to try to get us all in bed. Sometimes they snuggle for two minutes, but sometimes we pretend the bed is a ship and we are all snuggling in for the night. Cuddling with toddlers is the best perk of winter.
What do you do with your toddlers in winter?
Image via Tosca Radigonda/Corbis