What to do when You’re Stuck at Home with Small Children
This post is a little random, but I’ve been thinking about how I’ve been under house arrest a lot since having children, either do to frigid winter temperatures or illnesses. I want to encourage other moms who may find themselves trapped at home with toddlers and babies, because being stuck at home for even 2 days with small children can feel like an eternity. I personally find it easier to have outings planned for my kids – even if it is just to the playground – because I feel like getting out of the house keeps us all stimulated and happy. However, when it is 12 degrees outside or someone has a cold virus, getting outside isn’t always an option so us mama’s have to get creative to keep our sanity in tact, right?!
Here are some things that have worked well for my little family during those days that we are stuck indoors. And I apologize for the lack of photos. I’m trying to hash this out quick because I’m feeling like I’m getting the kids’ cold and I’m hoping an earlier bedtime will help me stay on top of things.
When we are stuck inside, I try (keyword) really hard to focus on the time God is gifting me. When Atlas was a baby and it was winter time, we didn’t go outside for days at a time. We stayed in our tiny NYC apartment and we read a TON of books. To this day, Atlas loves to read and we still read books when we are stuck inside, like this week due to sicknesses. I try to take the house arrest as an opportunity to slow down and focus on teaching Atlas (& even Andi Rose) things I wouldn’t normally teach them because we are always on the go and playing outside. We read bible stories, books about counting and the alphabet and I try to really teach Atlas. Just this week, Atlas learned to recognize about 6 more letters by sight because we took time to read more books and point out letters in the books together. Take this time as a learning opportunity! I adore this book (girl version here), and Atlas loves this book and this book and he needs this book (we are obsessed with Pout Pout Fish in this house). Also, Where’s Waldo books are GOLD, ya’ll! Pure gold for toddlers – at least my toddler. We own all the Where’s Waldo books and Atlas looooves them!
This is another great learning activity that I don’t always make time for unless we are stuck inside! Atlas loves doing this alphabet puzzle and I give him mini M&M’s for every letter he can point out by sight while doing it. He loves the game (because he loves the candy) and it’s a valuable way to pass the time. Atlas also loves this firetruck puzzle and this puzzle set and Andi Rose loves this animal puzzle and this puzzle (they make noise). During the winter in NYC, I actually bought a bunch of puzzles and didn’t give them to Atlas until a day when we were going completely stir crazy and I would whip out a brand new puzzle for him. He always loved it and even though some of the puzzles were a little hard for him, he enjoyed the challenge and we would do the puzzle 6 times in a row, once he figured out how to do it by himself (I would help him the first few times and then he would like to do it by himself while I watched).
This doesn’t work as well for Andi Rose since she is only 14 months and isn’t interested in movies, but this is a great thing for Atlas since he is almost 3 years old. We don’t watch a lot of movies and my kids don’t watch cartoons on TV at all (I’m not saying that in a snooty way – they don’t watch TV because half the time I can’t figure out how to work it). I like to keep brand new movies hidden, so when we have weeks like this week where I know we are all sick and home for several days I can pull out a new movie for Atlas to enjoy. I will either let him watch a movie while I focus on Andi Rose, or I’ll let him miss his nap and we have special movie time together while Andi snoozes, which he thinks is the greatest treat. We also do this on Friday nights sometimes if we’ve been cooped up all week and we still aren’t well enough to go out – we make Friday night a movie night where Atlas can stay up a little later and he loves it. Any Veggie Tales movie is usually a hit in our house and Inside Out is a new favorite (it might actually be my favorite movie) as well as Tangled.
Bath time doesn’t just have to be an evening activity when you’re under house arrest! When we are stuck at home all day, I let my kids play in the bath and they both love it! We keep special fun soap hidden that I only pull out for these occasions. Atlas loves these bath letters and again, I make a game out of it. I ask him to point out different letters to me and I freak out when he gets one right and he thinks it is the funniest game ever and he doesn’t even realize he’s learning! Atlas also loves these bath capsules because they turn into animals in the water, but I have to be careful when Andi Rose is around because these are definitely joking hazards for her, so he only gets these if Andi Rose is not involved (i.e. she’s asleep). I keep these things tucked away under the sink so they only get them when we are stuck at home for days at a time. Oh, and these make the bath water change color and Atlas loves it!
Assuming nobody has a stomach virus, I always like to get the kids in the kitchen to play. Of course, we can’t share our goodies with anybody because we don’t want to share our germs so half the time we end up tossing a lot of what we baked, but Atlas loves baking up stuff with me and Andi Rose loves making a mess of the kitchen.
So, if you’re a mom reading this, may I suggest you make a ‘rainy day kit?’ Stock up on a few books, puzzles, boxed cupcake mixes, movies and bath toys that you can pull out during a week you and your babies are stuck inside. 🙂 Just pull out one thing at a time & milk that toy/book/activity for all its worth before moving on to the next ‘surprise.’ The dollar section at Target is great for this stuff too.
Also, I know there are a zillion ideas on Pinterest for crafts to do inside but I hate crafting. It isn’t my cup of tea. The extent of my craftiness is play-doh & when I want to really go hog wild, I let the kids blow bubbles inside.
What are YOUR ideas for keeping your kids entertained while stuck inside, Mamas? Leave them in the comments below!