I love having my kids outside helping me with projects but sometimes I fall into the TV trap.When the capricious weather is pouring rain or it is -20 outside I put in a movie while I work in the cold.
Right now the weather is still warm enough that the kids are outside with me while we put the goats out and feed horses. We have also been spending time playing on the swing set with Penelope and Fiona who both love to swing. Being outside is good for the kids but when it is extremely cold outside they can only handle it for a few minutes. In the middle of winter I usually only get 1/3 of the way through morning chores when their fingers get too cold for them to be outside. That is when I usually start to fall into the TV trap. It is easier for me to set up a movie for them rather than bundling them up to go outside then having to bring them back in 15 minutes later while I head back out. They watch a movie while I work but the more TV they watch the more they want to watch. It is a slippery slope situation.
Fiona can be a little TV bug and I have even caught Penelope watching the TV when it is on. It bothers me when the baby starts watching TV and when Fiona gets upset when TV time is over. That is when I know she is watching too much. I have realized we have slipped down the slippery slope.(It has been an extremely wet fall here is Wisconsin.) I know when the weather is very cold it is better for them to stay inside so I have been working on limiting their screen time to only while I am outside and the weather is bad.
Soon it we will be the middle of winter when the thermometer can’t be bribed into climbing above zero. Being housebound during below zero weather is hard for them, and me, so I try to have a few activities for them.
- Reading Time: Even if your children can’t read yet (mine aren’t reading yet) they are associating the words on the page with the story the pictures tell. They also learn how to quietly work on an activity.
- Drawing Time: Having paper and color crayons/pencils/markers around in the winter or during rainy weather is a must. Children work on fine motor skills such as holding a writing utensil properly and to associate it with making a pretty picture to show you. Fiona has been banned from markers because she just can’t help coloring on herself.
- Play Dough- Using play dough is great for tactile engagement and lets them build something with their hands. Play dough is also a sensory tool to help children develop fine motor skills in different ways. They discover how to move their hands in order to manipulate the play dough how they want it.
- Do the Dishes- This may sound like manual labor but your kids get to play in water with soapy bubbles. Not only are they going to get wet they are going to have a blast and you may get a few dishes done. Maybe…
- Get Physical- After a few quite activities it would be a good idea to do some stretches, jumping jacks, or run in place. Something to work off the built up energy that needs an outlet.
- Free Play- If you have the space a playroom is great for inside days because it gives the kids their own space to play as they wish. Place their toys in the room with designated bins to help with cleanup later because after a day inside the room will look as if a tornado hit. Make sure cleanup time is part of the routine because kids need to learn how to clean-up their own toys.
- Make a Fort- Use a few light blanket and chairs to make a fort. Reading and coloring is soooo much more exciting when it is done inside a blanket fort. I would leave the playdough as a tabletop activity.
- Games- Break out any age appropriate board games and card games to play and interact with your kids. A few of our personal favorites are Candy Land and Old Maid.
Even when it is below freezing outside it can still be nice to let the kids out for a breath of freezingly fresh air. Bundle up and walk around the yard for 10 minutes. I know it takes longer than that to get bundled and unbundled but going out for a breather will be invigorating for you and the kids. I have an outdoor wood-stove that needs to be checked at least once in the afternoon so in the winter I bundle the kids up and we fill the wood-stove. They play in the snow a little before we all go in and have hot chocolate.
Sitting at the table with my kids drinking hot chocolate after we have played outside is one of the best parts of winter. It is also good socializing spent away from the TV!