It’s January. And if it’s anything like last January, it will last for half the year. Especially if you live in cold climates, it’s extremely difficult to keep toddlers entertained all winter. They are too young to go to school, yet old enough to ransack the entire house in a day. I only have one toddler right now and if we don’t get out every single day, my house looks like a tornado went through it and I am at my wit's end. Therefore, I’ve been trying to think of different ways to mix up our schedule and add new activities. Here are a few I’d like to share:
1. Let them be bored.
Gotcha–you probably expected some amazing indoor activity for the first one, but I’m throwing you a curveball. I just need to throw out this disclaimer, especially for those mamas who feel like they aren’t doing enough to entertain their children. I’ve been reading a research-based book called “The Self Driven Child.” In the book Phd Neurologist William Stixrud talks about how children in today’s world have too much going on. With screens and school starting earlier and earlier, their brain actually needs more downtime.
So even if it’s excruciatingly hard to let them tear the house apart, it’s good for their brains to wander around and figure out what to do on their own without screens or constant entertainment.
2. Go to the library
This is the best way to get out of the house and get kids excited about books early on in their life. Especially if your library has a program with puppet shows or story time, toddlers go berserk for that sort of thing. And it’s a plus for you to be able to read some new books other than the ones you’ve already memorized at home. Win-win.
3. Give @busytoddler a follow on Instagram
She has age-specific activities that are inexpensive and easy to set up for your toddler. On here you can find the famous rice buckets where you hunt for animals or taping posters to the wall for a fun seasonal craft. Also, she literally just posted a blog titled “65+ At-Home Ideas” for moms just like you and me. My job here is done.
4. Plan a trip to a museum/aquarium
This is always a given, but have you searched for out of the box local landmarks you could explore with your children? We recently found a cat rescue center (of course not a good idea if you have allergies) where you could book an appointment to go and help take care of the cats and play with them. My daughter LOVES cats but we can’t own one due to my husband’s allergies, so this was a really fun, simple activity for us to do during the day.
5. Plan a playdate
I mostly hate people in the winter and want to be a hermit, but the times I do make an effort to reach out to a fellow toddler mom, I never regret it. It’s so nice to let our kids have a new place/friend to play with and keep them occupied while we chat about all the things motherhood throws at us. And I've actually found spontaneous playdates seem to work out better. It’s so hard to schedule things with other moms, but if I reach out the day of it surprises me how many other moms are just sitting at home with their toddler like I am.
6. Try out open-play silicone toys from the Ivory Cradle Shop
It's incredible to see how long my toddler lasts playing with her silicone tea set. She will pour water from cup to cup with her little dolly over and over again. Or the stacking rocket and car toys--she makes so many different combinations and loves knocking them over after each time. We've seen a lot of success with these toys here at our shop and know your toddler would love them too!
In the end, planning an activity or getting outside with my toddler entirely depends on how much energy I have. But when I make the effort I find that it’s almost always worth it (the times that are NOT worth it make for good stories later on). It helps speed up the day, gets my heart pumping, and also provides exciting learning and exploring opportunities for my toddler.
Please feel free to comment on other ways you’ve been able to enjoy indoor winter activities with your children.
Written by Heidi, co-founder at Ivory Cradle