Here in the mid-west we have seen many, many days of snow. In fact, the weather has been so bad that the last time the kids attended school for the entire week was the week before Christmas. The school district has used up all their snow days as well as those “extra emergency” days. All thanks to the weather. What does a parent do when their children are stuck indoors for days on end? Although I can’t answer for all parents, here is what I’ve done.
We limit gaming time to an hour a day. This includes game consoles and the computer. They can play either one or both, but it can not be more than an hour. On these wonderful winter days, the time is extended. Sometimes the kids can play for 2 or 3 hours. We have even extended this time frame for those rare moments when friends are online and they are all playing together. But it doesn’t happen often.
We own several game boards. Mousetrap, Clue (a few different ones), Monopoly, Risk (eek!), Memory Game Tiles, Guess Who?, Scrabble, Sorry, Trouble, Pirate Dice Game (a version of Yahtzee), and so on. The kids will take turns pulling out a game and setting it up while someone makes popcorn or gathers chips and dip. We will eat fun food while playing games. This also goes for card games such as Black Jack, Spit, Rummy, and Texas Hold ’em.
Other ways we break the spell of boredom is by spending time in the kitchen. We will bake cookies, brownies, cakes, or make home made bread, rolls, pizza. These items take time to prepare and cook, giving us more quality time for laughter and silliness.
We also enjoy a good movie marathon. We will choose 5 or 6 movies we all like. The kids close their eyes as I mix up the movies and have them choose which one they want to watch. The 5 or 6 is reduced to three, one pick for each child. To determine which movie is played first, I make a game out of it. This is something I do to prevent arguing about the order in which the movies are watched. You can use oldest to youngest, or who has the next birthday, but I usually give my children problems they have to solve. The first person who can answer correctly gets their choice played first. I don’t give them the same problem or the 8 year old would think its too hard and the teens would think its too easy. Instead I make each problem challenging at their own levels. But nothing too hard and something they can easily find if they know where to look. For example, I have a Christmas countdown on my computer, and I might ask the youngest to tell me how many days and hours until Christmas. Or I might ask my oldest to name two ingredients I use in a certain recipe. The order in which their answers are given is the order in which we watch the movies. They could give me the answers at the same time, but they usually run a few seconds apart. And on the rare occasions they do have the answer at the same time, the older ones are gracious enough to allow the youngest one to have his movie play first.
Other things we do to prevent the watching of the walls is looking through old photograph albums. Each child will take an album and start looking through it. They usually don’t get very far without asking who, where, or what was occurring at the time of the photo. We have shared many memories and stories with each other as we flipped through picture albums. We usually end up laughing because, even though the pictures might be of the same person or in the same location, with the age differences between the kids, there is a noticeable time passage. The entire family participates in telling the stories and naming friends and relatives. We have albums that belonged to my husbands and my grandparents that we also pull out. The kids have fun trying to figure out who looks like the faces staring back at us.
Another idea we work together on is planning for our summer vacation–be it a day trip or a week away. We look through brochures, books, maps, and the internet for places we’d like to visit. I record the different states, landmarks or historical monuments the kids mention. It can be as specific as going to Mount Rushmore or as vague as going to Arizona. There are suggestions such as finding a covered bridge within driving distance or spending a day hiking. This is a group project we discuss and research together now while giving us something to look forward to enjoying in person when the sun shines hot and the snow melts.
So though the walls seem to close around us during these snowy days of winter, I welcome the time it allows for my family to be “stuck” in doors together. If you have other ideas or suggestions for when winter hits hard, please feel free to comment. I would love to hear what you have to say!
Until the next snow flake! ~