Doesn’t it feel like raising young children in the summer is easier? No matter where you live — a park is always nearby to burn off energy or to meet up with friends. Vacations, picnics, parties and playdates fill up our schedules so much so that sometimes we crave the cozy, stay-indoors days of winter.
Until it’s winter. And then we’re stuck indoors.
When the kids are bouncing off the walls or glued in front of the TV — that’s usually our signal for, “We need to get out of the house!”
Finding things to do in the winter can be challenging. And if you’ve just moved, or don’t have a core group of friends with young children — it can be isolating.
We’ve compiled a list of indoor and outdoor activities to get you and your family through what feels like the longest winter ever!
FIND NEARBY EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
If you've recently moved to a new town or are just starting to venture out with your little one, start with your local Facebook Events page and Macaroni Kid. Macaroni Kid is a nationally run site with local newsletters and event calendars. Both allow you to search for local happenings in your area.
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
Find an Indoor Gym or Trampoline Park
Large, indoor gym facilities have popped up all over, giving parents easy ways for toddlers to burn off energy during the winter.
For Toddlers: Check out your local sports & wellness complexes for toddler play times. Kids can run around, kick balls or play with others on slides, mats or riding toys. Or check in with your local gymnastics club for tumbling or mommy & me classes. If you’re new to your area, start here. Most indoor activity centers set aside “Toddler times” a few days a week and usually on Saturday mornings.
For Preschool & Pre-K: Kids and adults can stay active in the winter by jumping and climbing! Trampoline parks are all the rage for kids, while indoor playgrounds have been a staple energy-burner for years. Like tot times, there are usually designated time slots for kids-only fun.
Bonus - you’ll likely meet some new parents and see familiar faces each time!
Visit Your Local Library
Libraries are a great way to spend the morning. Check out a class, browse for books, play with blocks or a computer and meet some new friends. Best of all — it’s all free!
Most libraries offer tot and preschool story times followed by puppet play, music circles or a craft. You can also find movement or mommy & me yoga classes during the week and generally on the weekends.
Visit a Local Museum or Take a Kid-Friendly Tour
Most areas have a local museum and host temporary kid exhibits. If you don’t live in or near a city, you may need to do a little research. If you don’t know where to start or are unfamiliar with your new town, do a search for what your area is known for. Most likely, you’ll find plenty of interactive, kid-friendly tours open year-round! To kick-start your search, here are ideas to get your juices flowing: train museums, ice cream/dairy tours, pretzel-making and a historic fire museum.
Explore the Aquarium
Sea life is truly exciting for kids of all ages. Younger children can explore bright colors in action and touch slimy sea creatures, while older kids can get their first glimpse of a real-life shark! Because aquariums can be dark, crowded and have scuba divers in masks, be sure to read up on helpful hints to prepare your kids for the trip. Before you go, research stroller policies, food prices and showtimes. If you’re on a budget or have a small child who requires a nap, pack a lunch and take a break in your car — just check to make sure you can reenter once you leave.
Go to the Movies — for Cheap
Many movie theaters offer discounted movies during the morning, mainly on Tuesdays. If you’ve never ventured to the movies with your little one, this is the time to go. It’s likely the other theater-goers are in your same position. Check your local theater listings for specials and discounts!
Easy Baking Ideas
Young children love to pretend they are grown-ups. Baking gives them a sense of accomplishment and gets them excited to try new foods. These recipes only require a little prep, and won’t make a big mess!
For younger children: We love these easy Pancake Muffins. Toddlers will love stirring the batter (from the box!) and filling each muffin tin with tasty treats like fruit or chocolate.
For older children: We love this no-bake, protein-packed treat. It is like a granola bar but healthier, and tastier too. Once you have all the ingredients, allow your child to dump it all in the bowl and help roll each bite into a ball. Best of all, it’s a no bake recipe! Pop them in the freezer for a healthy snack your kids really will love.
If you’ve searched for toddler activities, chances are you’ve happened upon sensory bins. Sensory bins have become very popular as they allow children to discover, imagine and create new colors, textures, smells — you name it, all in a tiny world fit just for them.
As we slowly make our way towards Spring, we’re loving this Strawberry Sand Recipe & Spring Sensory Match by Child Development major and mom of three, Rylee. For first-timers, she offers helpful methods for introducing sensory bins to your child. We promise, if you have cabin fever, these activities will get you over them fast!
If you’re not ready to jump on the slime train — we get it. Ease your way into it with homemade play dough. This Homemade Playdough Recipe is not only fun to play with, but it smells incredible, too!
Glow Stick Party
When the daylight ends early, evenings can be tough on the family, too. Have you ever given your kids a glow stick bath? If you haven’t, DO IT TONIGHT! We surprised our kids with this lights-off evening activity and it definitely took bath-time up a notch.
Get Moving Inside
From the start, kids need to learn that exercising is not just healthy, but FUN too! When everyone is feeling sluggish, and you can’t get outside — get moving! Check out this list of seriously fun and every-age-appropriate moves that will get their blood flowing and your sanity back! Our favorite is Tickle Tag and the Temper Tantrum! After all the time indoors, your favorite may be the Clean up Race. ;)
For a more relaxing exercise (we like this before bed), try Cosmic Kids Yoga. Each interactive video takes your child on a magical journey filled with mindfulness and relaxation.
When all else fails, there is always the old-school favorites we grew up with like blanket forts, Disney dance parties, scavenger hunts, hot lava and hide and seek.
Hang tight. Nicer weather is almost here!