It's a good idea to have them get outside for at least a short while every day. But let's face it, there are simply days when the outside is so inhospitable you are stuck inside with antsy, bored and usually bickering kids.
Decide that this will be terrific family time and get
creative. Push the furniture back, turn some great dance music on high volume and start moving.
Your kids may want to create a movie or play. They can write the script (maybe from a favourite story) and start rehearsals. This will keep them occupied for more than one lousy weather day. Then invite the neighbours and let them perform. You may even suggest they call kids who live nearby to be cast members.
Or, let the kids build a megafort using tables, chairs and blankets. The fort should stay around for a number of days and they can even camp out and sleep in it. The kids can also add to the fort by bringing out the Lego and building a town right beside the fort. Soon all their stuffed animals, any toy vehicles and plastic action figures will have found a home in this new town.
When you let them keep the fort and town (or anything else they decide to build) in place for days it creates a unique, personal and fun play area. Suddenly being cooped up is fun.
And they will be much too engaged to want to watch TV for hours on end. Enjoy an indoor picnic which can, of course, be held in the fort or any other likely location.
Treasure hunts are great fun. The kids go from one place to another, and find a clue at each place. You set up a series of clues all around the house with a prize at the end. For younger kids the clues can be simple - "look in the freezer." But for older kids make it a challenge - "look in a place that would make penguins happy." If they really get into the game you can suggest they make up their own clues. Some kids just love creating clues and will play this game happily for hours.
Bring out the old fashioned board games. Your kids may be surprised to learn that not all games need a computer or iPad. If your kids are of various ages, adjust the rules to level the playing field. Then go for it.
Pull out some favourite family videos and have a movie time. Make sure you include popcorn. What is watching movies without popcorn?
You can also have some interesting conversations about what they are watching. Who is their favourite character?
Why? Which character do they think is most like them? What was the best scene in the movie?
The kitchen is a great place to head when you are trying to entertain the kids. Kids love to bake cookies. So get going. Who says you can only make shaped cookies at Christmastime? Let the kids cut out their favourite shapes and decorate them with sprinkles or coloured icing.
This is also a great time to pull out all the art supplies or the playdough. Let the kids finger paint, or draw and colour.
Some of the these activities will require your involvement and with some, once you get the kids started, you can go about your business.
It's a good idea to mix and match. Plan an activity with the kids, then let them work on their own.
Listen to them playing and step in when you can sense that peace and harmony are only going to last for about another two minutes. When you can predict the moment when the children will need adult supervision, being stuck in the house can be fun for all.
Kathy Lynn is a professional speaker and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. If you want to read more, sign up for her informational newsletter at parentingtoday.ca.