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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ways to Beat the Winter Blues with Your Toddler

For those of you that have chosen to live somewhere other than the frozen tundra, I salute you. Remind me to ask my husband later if there are any transfer options to tropical locations. While I do love my beautiful state of Wisconsin, and I find all seasons here to be magical in their own way, I may have reached my freezing cold limit.

It's cold here. Like, the dog doesn't even want to go outside anymore cold. In my younger years that would have meant cranking up the fire place and snuggling under a blanket after work. That doesn't quite work anymore since we're still working on teaching the toddler that a fire is hot. And that sitting under a blanket part, well, that would require sitting, something my toddler is not fond of.

I've taken the batteries out of Elmo since I couldn't handle him creepily giggling at me from the corner all day and Baby Z and I have made every fake recipe with her fake food in her fake kitchen that I can muster. I've had to branch out the past few weeks and find activities, both inside and outside the house, to keep everyone sane. I like to look for activities that either use supplies I already have around my house or are free/low cost winter distractions within the community. Here are a few of my favorites that we've been enjoying lately:

Indoor Obstacle Course: My toddler loves to climb and crawl under things. This includes crawling under the kitchen table and climbing the couch to hang out with the dog. One day after telling her not to do this for the hundredth time, I decided to capitalize on it instead. We made an obstacle course that covered all baby safe rooms on our first floor. It included climbing over things, crawling under them, kicking a ball, pushing obstacles, and a whole lot of giggling. The best part though, it also included bubble wrap to crawl on under one of  the tables. The building of the obstacle course itself was fun because the older kids were able to help with ideas and everyone had fun trying it out many times throughout the day. It was definitely a hit and was repeated again and again for Dad when he came home as well.

Open Swim: While I'm not ready to jump into swim lessons quite yet, the act of swimming at least reminds me that there are warmer places with water and that summer will come to Wisconsin again soon. After some internet research I found that there is a huge variety of open swim options during the day in our area. The local swim school has a warm pool with an inexpensive open swim option for little ones during the day and many of the local high schools have open swim options in the evening and on the weekends. Although this activity isn't free, its fairly low cost and really tires the littles out.

 Tot School: This one has been a true lifesaver on days we're stuck indoors. There are a huge number of websites dedicated to this concept of helping your child learn through play at home. Pinterest is a great start to find ideas and the ideas are truly endless from printables to activities like sensory bins. This week we've used one site's idea to focus on feelings and the color red in honor of Valentine's Day. I used everything I could find in the house (toddler safe of course) that was a variation of red and pink in our sensory bin This included plastic play food, hair bows, Little People, tissue paper, blocks, balls, and other random household items. While many of the activities I've found have been a little above where Baby Z is at, I can always find a way to modify them to her level. If you're lucky enough to still have a napping toddler, use nap time to quickly prepare an activity to keep you busy through the afternoon.

Edible Playdough: The problem with art time in our house is that Baby Z still thinks that most items should probably end up in her mouth at some point. This includes crayons, glue, and tissue paper which are not items I normally include in her daily nutrition. Rather than fight it, I cooked up some simple edible play dough and let her have at it. I still don't encourage eating it, but don't have to stress if she does. Making your own play dough is incredibly easy and inexpensive. A quick search will find you simple recipes like this one on Allrecipes, but there are so many fun variations including ones made with items like cream cheese or peanut butter.

Family Yoga: I'd love to belong to a beautiful workout facility with childcare, but it just isn't in the cards for us right now. However, staying fit and active is important for me to model to the kids, so we don't let the winter weather stop us. Family yoga is a perfect way to help a child learn to focus, move their body, and follow directions. Even if you have a much younger child, you can incorporate your baby into many of the yoga moves. YouTube is my favorite free site for family yoga fun. Just search for options like "toddler yoga" or "mother baby yoga" and you'll find tons of fun, free, and easy options to try with the kids.

Open Gym: Like open swim, this one gets us out of the house and is also low cost or free. Using my internet sleuthing skills again, I found that our local community center offers a free open gym during the week. There are no organized activities, but there are lots of things to play with and new kids and adults to interact with. We just stop in, burn some energy, then bundle back up in our coats to head home. Similarly, our local gymnastics club also offers an open gym time during the day. While it does cost a small amount, they have a special time just for the youngest kids, which keeps Baby Z from getting trampled and lets her climb to her heart's content in a safe environment.

While I'm the first to admit that I've let the kids play in the dog's water bowl because it was close enough to a water table or taken a trip to Target just as a reason to get out of those house, I'm determine to not let the winter cold win. We're still staying active, engaged, and learning while stuck indoors even if it means a little extra effort on my part and a messier house.

Help a mamma out, what are your other free or low cost activities that you love to do in your home or around your community to keep you busy when the outdoors aren't an option? Share in the comments to help us keep things fun in our home!


Okieinswissland said...

You are so funny Katie! I love it. :) Great ideas!

MamaBear34 said...

Great ideas!

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