I know it does no good whatsoever to get antsy for Spring, but I’d be lying if I denied already sensing some cabin fever in our home. If there’s one thing I know about toddlers (especially my son), it’s that he loves (needs?!) to stay busy.
We lived in California for the first year of his life, and we spent time outside every single day of that year. Now being back in Minnesota, it’s felt a bit shocking to not be able to hop outside each day for some sunshine and fresh air. So since we aren’t able to play outside most winter days (Minnesota gets so cold), I’ve had to get more creative than I originally anticipated.
Here are some of the things that help us stay busy (and happier) this season, both at and away from home:
Cook and Bake Together
I use the word “together” loosely here, however. My son will stand next to me, on his learning tower at counter level. Sometimes he will help me add things to bowls (such as sliced potatoes, measured oils and seasonings), and sometimes I’ll give him his own bowl and utensils, which keeps him busy helping mama.
Spend the Morning at an Indoor Playground
I fortunately discovered a playground at a local church for winter play, and I’ve heard of a few others in town that are available as well. This one costs us just $1 a day and it wipes. him. out. Any indoor children’s play area works great (think gym at the YMCA, a local dance or gymnastics studio that has open/free play hours, etc.)
Sink or Counter Water Play
This is a major win every time. A few different bowls and/or small cups, some teaspoons for stirring, and maybe a water toy or two, and my son is entertained for 30+ minutes at a time (huge in toddler time). It’s great for working on his transferring skills, too. Just make sure to have large towels on hand for the cleanup.
Attend the Library and/or Library Story Time
Learning and activities for him, social time for us both. Win win.
Drive His Cozy Coupe Car Around and Around the House
Any and All Transferring Activities
All this takes is two (or more) large bowls, some dried pasta, corn, oats, or craft pom-poms, and any other miscellaneous scoopers or toys that will be fun – like the water play, it’s entertaining and good for his development.
Help with Household Chores
My son loves to throw dirty clothes down the laundry chute, bring items to the garbage and recycling bins in the kitchen, ‘sweep’ and ‘dust’ (we have this set), sort and put away some of his laundry, help set the table, scoop and pour our dog’s food twice a day, and clean up his toys at the end of the day.
This is something we only do occasionally, but my son loves to paint! I’ll tape down a few flattened plastic garbage bags to the kitchen floor, have some sort of paper/canvas/project ready, plus a brush and a little paint on paper plates – strip him down to his diaper and away we go. It typically lasts all of 5 minutes, but it’s fun. I think our families love getting his artwork for gifts or as surprise mail, too.
Play Musical Instruments
Right now we have a big walk-on piano and a box set of Melissa & Doug musical instruments. Both are enjoyed here on a daily basis.
These also happen on a daily basis – it’s fun, good exercise, and is guaranteed to lift our spirits around the regularly exhausting part of our day (dinner prep time).
Meet up with another Mom and her Child(ren) for a Play Date
Another one that’s particularly good for us both.
Couch and Fort Play
My son is all about jumping around on the couch these days (and standing on it to look out our picture window). I set one of the cushions on the floor so he can easily climb up on his own and place the ottoman to expand the safe space. We occasionally build a fort with blankets and chairs as well, which is especially fun in the evening when the house is darker and we can have a little lamp inside the fort.
Read Books, with a Rotation
We are all bookworms to the core in our home, but because I don’t want any of us to get completely bored of the books we have, I’ve started using a rotation for them. It’s fun to get books out again that we haven’t seen in a while.
Build, Stack, Drive
Right now my son is particularly interested in building blocks, stacking anything and everything (think tupperware and storage jars), piecing together train tracks (with quite a bit of help), and driving around anything that has wheels.
Play Outside in the Snow
And, of course, when we get the lucky day above 20 degrees, we spend 15 minutes getting completely bundled up and get outside to enjoy 5-10 whole minutes of fresh air. 🙂