i don’t know if you’ve heard me
complain talk about it yet, but i live in minnesota, aka the frozen tundra. meaning, it gets bone-chillingly cold and very snowy for about half the year. as I write this, it’s -2 degrees outside. without the windchill (and if you don’t know what windchill is, count your blessings). all of this is fine if it’s just you, because you have the best excuse ever to hibernate on your couch under a blanket, with coffee and netflix. but if you have a toddler…well, the long winter means something entirely different.
having a toddler in the winter means trying to entertain that toddler without the benefit of days spent at the park or going on long walks outside. this makes for very long days spent mostly indoors with a tiny tyrant. so what’s a mom to do?
if you’re looking for some ideas to make the days go by more quickly in the winter, look no further. here are some of my favorite tips for getting through winter with a toddler. use this as a starting point, and add your own creative ideas.
- get outside. i know, i know, as an adult we’re not used to the idea of playing in the snow anymore. but even 15 minutes outside with your toddler can help make the day go by a little more smoothly. and when you factor in the getting ready time and the getting undressed time, you can easily knock an hour out of your day, with the added bonus of a great energy burn and some fresh air (which could mean a longer nap time!).
- create an indoor obstacle course. we live in a very small house, so we don’t have the benefit of a playroom, but you can do this anywhere in your house that has enough space to run around a bit. set up some pillows, chairs or even block towers to act as obstacles to jump over, run around or sit on. my daughter will run an actual mile around the kitchen table yelling, “run away! run away!” which provides countless minutes of entertainment.
- check out your local library. i had no idea that public libraries had been upping their games so much until recently! they just redid the one near us, and their children’s area is amazing. not only are there books, but there are little puzzles and puppets and activities for the kids to do too. if you can find a library in your area with a children’s section, it’s a great way to kill a morning (and bring home some new books!).
- bake some cookies. i know, i know, all you neat freaks are cringing at this one. but stay with me. all kids really want to do is scoop things and touch things and watch you make things, so making cookies can be a fun activity if you are feeling a little stir crazy. if the idea of flour all over the kitchen makes you crazy, just put some news paper down and call it a day.
- visit the mall. i’m not a big shopper, but every so often it’s nice to go somewhere that the little one can run around and you can get some errands done without having to get in and out of the car ALL DAY LONG. this is one i use more sporadically, because i like to make a half day event out of it and spend all morning at the mall, including having a lunch date with my daughter. it makes for a nice, special outing to break the monotony.
- take a trip to a bookstore. similar to a library, bookstores (especially children’s bookstores) often have play areas or storytimes, and toddlers are welcome to roam and explore. if you have a reader or don’t live near a good library, this is a great option.
- get out the paper and crayons. i HIGHLY suggest investing in a large roll of paper (or two), along with a few boxes of washable crayons. my daughter loves coloring, and we have an art session at least two to three times a day. what we’ve been doing lately is taping a long piece of paper to our kitchen table, and setting her up in her high chair so she can color and we can get stuff done without worrying about her falling off of or coloring on anything.
- let them get in on the chores. there’s this phenomena that i recently discovered. toddlers love helping. dusting, vacuuming, wiping up, folding clothes, give them a chore to do themselves, and most will get really into it. take advantage of this. if you need to have a cleaning day at home, just involve your toddler! give them a dust rag or a swiffer duster and if they’re anything like mine, they will follow you around, “helping”, while you get actual work done.
- find an indoor gym. i have yet to visit one of these, because i’m only home two days a week, but if you have the time and the curiousity, try looking up an indoor gym in your area. my local area’s “moms blog” has a whole list of them, so that’s a good place to start if you’re looking in your area. i think they would be a great way to get energy out, especially if the weather has been too crappy to get outside at all for a while.
- go to a local children’s museum or science museum. we went to the minnesota children’s museum last week and i am hooked! for one, i feel like i learned a lot, which was unexpected and lovely. also, it wasn’t too big or overwhelming, so it felt like a manageable outing. these places usually have an annual membership deal if you end up liking them, which makes them incredibly affordable as a regular thing.
- have a dance party. when all else fails, turn on some jams and have a dance party! you’ll get some exercise and your toddler will burn some energy. you may even be able to diffuse a tantrum with this tactic! bonus: it’ll keep you warm, so there really is no downside.