Most public schools in Western New York are preparing to release the natives for spring break. The countdown has begun for excited students and teachers alike. Anyone traveling toward warmth and sunshine is visibly radiating with anticipation. Those of us parents stuck here in the still snow-covered April are faced with a serious dilemma: how can we entertain our children indoors until it warms-up?
Western New York weather isn’t always conducive for outdoor activities, and no responsible parent wants their child hypnotized by the television. (But what parent hasn’t slipped?) Here are a few ideas to keep you and your kids busy without spending a dime or facing the cold.
1. Get ready for a garage sale!
If you can stand the temporary mess, have your child help you empty their toy box. Have them decide which toys they are willing to part with or no longer play with anymore. If they seem reluctant, tell them whatever money they make at the sale is theirs to spend on a new toy. If you aren’t planning a sale this year, donate the toys instead. Not only will your child assist you in spring cleaning, but they will feel important by making these decisions. And if you’re lucky, your child will be entertained for hours. Old toys are like brand new ones if it’s been long enough!
2. Have an indoor picnic!
When the weather prohibits you from enjoying lunch outdoors, plan a picnic inside! Spend some time in the morning planning and packing your lunches. If your kids are old enough, let them make their own lunch. IOt’s as easy as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When lunchtime rolls around, lay a plastic tablecloth on the floor (leftover from a party) or even just a sheet. Pop-in a favorite family movie while you eat and chat. Sometimes just the change in the normal daily routine makes being locked inside a little more bearable. Be sure to have drinks and of course, dessert! This would also be a perfect spot for a game when the food is gone.
The idea of paint, glue, and scissors makes most parents cringe. “Another mess to clean!” And a mother could spend a fortune on supplies in the local craft store. But forget about shopping -have the kids shop right at home! Everyone has a junk drawer full of items they’ll never use: unloved buttons, greeting cards from the most recent holiday, and items no one even remembers where they came from! Spur imaginations with recyclables like empty paper towel rolls or cereal boxes. Throw that handy plastic tablecloth on the table or the floor again for easy clean-up. (When the kids are done making a mess, roll up the tablecloth and toss it in the trash!) Get out the glue and see what they come-up with. Their creativity will amaze you.
4. Bake dessert for dinner!
Kids love to think they are helping. Baking cookies, cakes or brownies is an easy way to get them involved in creating something the whole family can enjoy later. This will require the ingredients for whatever recipe you choose to follow, and there could potentially be some clean-up. Baking is a hands-on project but can be a learning experience as well. For example, if you need one cup of flour use a smaller measuring cup and have your child count how many it will take to equal one cup. Decorating the final product with their own creative ideas makes it even more special to them. And any mess is worth the while when you see their smile after the delicious masterpiece has been complimented.
5. Model in a fashion show!
There is nothing quite like a child’s sense of style. Most children love the independence of choosing their own clothes, almost as much as they love to see themselves on television. Use your video camera or your computer as they present a runway show. Allow them to wear whatever outfit they desire. You can let them do their hair or make-up, too. Feeling brave? Let your kids give you a full-blown makeover and join in the fun! Sometimes it’s good to be silly with your kids.
6. Throw a dance party!
Take advantage of your child’s lack of inhibitions and crank it up! Keep some of you child’s favorite songs handy (CDs, ipod, computer, etc.) and when all else fails, turn on the tunes and just dance. (Lock the doors and close the blinds if you must!) This is another opportunity for the kids to see themselves on television, and a stress relief for moms and dads. Plus, it’s just good exercise. Sing your heart out and shake your groove thing with your little ones.
Any other ideas? Feel free to share. Parents are looking for unique indoor memories to create with their child without breaking the bank…or going crazy before the nice weather arrives!