How can I keep my kids entertained inside?



Cook, clean and cure cabin fever with these fun ideas.

Banish the Smartphone and put away the electronic games. When’s the last time you played a card game of War or Go-Fish? How about teaching your tween how to play old-fashioned checkers (not on the computer!)? A snow day can turn into a special memory as you slow down and take the time to enjoy each other’s company. If you’ve run out of ideas on keeping your kids busy when a snow day strikes or during school breaks, turn off the TV, call a truce between siblings. Here are seven ways to help everyone stay occupied...and best of all? No batteries required.

READ MORE: Tips to avoid cabin fever

Camp
It may be cold outside but it’s the perfect temperature for camping indoors. Have the kids set up camp in the biggest open space in the house. Dining room chairs make perfect poles, queen or king sized sheets are good for the tent and clothes pins are an easy way to secure everything down. Dig out the sleeping bags or blankets and pillows.

Go through the food pantry for simple “camp” foods like soup in thermoses, cut-up sandwiches and fruit; pack into to a basket up for their day “outside.” Play simple camp-style games like charades, sing songs about the Old West (“Home on the Range”), or make up funny names for your campgrounds (Camp Whine-A-Lot).
After you’re finished, remind your campers to be responsible stewards by leaving things better than they found them, otherwise known as: have them clean up.

Clean
And speaking of cleaning up, believe it or not, a snow day might be the ideal time to tackle those areas of the house that you keep wishing were a bit neater: including the kids’ rooms. While this activity might not be high on your older kids’ list of fun activities, younger children may enjoy helping mom with The Great Cleaning Race (or whatever name you chose to use to make the activity sound more attractive).

Where to start? Stick to areas like the linen closet, toy room or bedroom closets, instead of the kitchen, china cabinet and bathrooms (for obvious reasons!). And use little tricks to keep it interesting: ask them to help you match all of the towels by color or let them try on a crazy combination of clothes from their closet and you can see if they still fit.
 
Place quarters in the bottom of toy buckets and tell the kids that they can keep all of the quarters they find as they help you straighten up all of the toys in the playroom. Not only will this keep kids occupied, but you will finally get a chance to check off a few things from your long “to-do” list.

READ MORE: How to get your kids involved in cleaning



Cook

Have you taught your kids how to cook? Even if a snow day has left you without too much food in the house, it doesn’t take much to give a Food Network-style cooking demonstration that teaches your younger kids how to make cookies or your older kids the basics of making scrambled eggs or French toast.

If they’re already experienced chefs, work with them to develop a brand new dish for dinner out of what’s in the pantry. Or turn your kitchen into a fun science classroom by taking the time to teach the kids what baking soda does when mixed with vinegar, or how cinnamon smells as compared to oregano. They won’t know they’re learning if you keep it lighthearted.

Create

Is your house already full of crafts from school, paintings from daycare or huge toothpick creations from Cub Scouts (seriously!)? Instead of creating yet another crayon drawing that won’t even fit on the fridge, school breaks offer great opportunities to make homemade cards and gifts.

Stock up on craft supplies for that surprise snow day. Ideas? Homemade birthday cards, thumbprint-painted terra cotta pots, hand-painted note cards for Grandma, and much more!
 
What happens when you’re stuck inside without any fancy supplies? How about making your own play dough and save some for a friend’s birthday or to donate to a preschool? Do you have brown paper lunch bags? They’re perfect for decorating as future gift bags. Remember that homemade cards only require paper, crayons and a little bit of inspiration.

READ MORE: Easy essential oil Playdough

Cuddle

When is the last time you had time to just sit down and cuddle with the kids? It may sound corny but a snow day is the chance to spend a little time reading to your preschooler or singing with your toddler while holding them in your lap.
What about older kids? Get out the hot chocolate and a plate of goodies, grab a big blanket and set-up on the couch for that good long talk that you never get to have or play a game of twenty questions.

Janine Boldrin is a mom of three, military spouse and freelance writer who grew-up in the Hudson Valley.