Monday, March 17

Staying Sane in Perpetual Winter

It's March. We've been cooped up for months with two little boys. And we still (for the most part) have our sanity intact. The boys and I spend most of our time at home right now because it's easier than bundling everybody up and buckling the carseats and going to one of the two free activites in town. But we've found a few things that help pass the dreary days. So here are my tips for weathering a long winter with my little guys (Big Brother is almost 3 and Little Brother is 7 months):

Invest in some great creative toys:

Anything with lots of possibilities to keep them interested day after day. Things like blocks, building sets, or cars. We scored this huge wooden train set at a yard sale for $30 and it has been invaluable this winter. Big Brother asks almost daily to play choo choo trains. He gets to be creative, learn to problem solve (to get the ends of the track to meet up!), and we can make different tracks everyday to keep it interesting. It really gets his imagination going, too. The trains always have voices and drive to the library/Grandpa's house/park.

Bonus tip - if you're buying train tracks look for the kind that are a solid piece (on the left) not the ones with the ball end attached (on the right). The balls can fall off and be a choking hazard. We've had to glue a few back together already.

The boys also have a set of hand-me-down duplex legos from their daddy. More hours of creative fun! He's been playing with these for over a year and still isn't bored with them. His current favorites are making stairs and zoos (that he fills with our Noah's Ark animals). Anytime he doesn't feel like playing trains we pull these out instead.

When he feels like trains AND legos we're in luck because we have train legos! (plus a Thomas train from his BFF that fits perfectly). Baby Brother loves the lego set too!

Keep them moving:

This may not float your boat, and that's totally fine. I think we can at least agree that boys need to move. A lot. When they don't get that energy out in a constructive way it all turns into tears and sassy. But let's be honest, when it's freezing cold outside I have zero desire to take them outside to run. So we let them do it in the house. Big Brother runs, jumps, dances, and even cruises around on the scooter he got for Christmas from great grandma & great grandpa. Yes, I said it. He scoots in the house. And yes we have hardwood floors. And yes they'll probably get scratched, but guess what? It's okay. We'll touch them up in 20 years or so. Our boy has a great time, gets some exercise, and is developing a great sense of balance.

Even before the scooter, he used what he calls his "inside bike." You know, because we use it inside. This was his favorite way to ride it last winter:

Ride backwards, he must.

Inside bike is still getting used. Now Big Brother likes to use it to take Baby Brother for rides.

Helmets are recommended. But sometimes cause many tears for boys who "not need no helmet." Where's your grammar, son?

Take baths:

We have two water babies. They LOVE to splash in the tub and long warm baths have been a great way to pass the time. We also try to come up with new fun things to do in the tub, like playing with measuring cups and spoons. We also cut shapes out of craft foam to play with in the tub. They're so fun because once you dip them in the water they will stick to the walls! Big Brother likes to make houses with the pieces.

Read (and write):

Books are a great way to engage imagination. We cycle through a few favorites and also hit the library once a week for fresh materials.

Big Brother also really enjoys drawing and pretending to write (he likes lists. Apparently it's contagious). We like to make up drawing games so sometimes I'll draw pictures and he'll guess what they are, or I'll draw basic pictures and he'll add details (like doors on houses, stripes on tigers).

Find new things to play with:

We've used every empty toilet paper roll to make airplanes or space rocket ships and turned empty cans into drums. His collapsible laundry hamper gets played with daily. Sometimes it's a cage for a lion, sometimes he gets trapped and needs to be saved, sometimes we just throw balls in it.

Pool noodles. They're basically swords. Great for getting bad guys, dragons, or lions.

A cape helps when you're after bad guys. I don't usually go for skulls, but I found this cape shirt for $0.50. When he wears it he runs around saying "fly fly fly!"

Go outside:

I know. It's cold. But fresh air does a body (and an attitude) good. So if you have to get out on the warmer days, go for it!

We're gonna need a bigger sled.

What are your favorite winter activities with the kids?

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