When your energetic kids can’t release all of their energy, they start to bounce off the walls (sometimes literally). Suddenly those walls might feel like they’re starting to close in on you. Here are a few ideas to maximize fun family time—and minimize damage to your house and your sanity — so that the kids stay happy, engaged and entertained without stepping foot in the freezing temperatures.
1) Create Fun Shapes with Food
Let your imaginations lead the way: Shape store-bought pizza dough into spiders, mold snowmen or dinosaurs out of Rice Krispies treats, or make the alphabet out of sugar cookies for a spelling lesson. Get creative and get cooking, and if you’re really enjoying the theme, let it inform other types of play and learning throughout the day.
2) Turn Your House into an Obstacle Course
Your little monkeys could really use a jungle gym to get out all of their energy — so why not build one for them? Try creating an old-school hopscotch court on your floor with masking tape; an obstacle course made with pillows, toys and furniture; or a Mission Impossible–style laser grid fashioned with red string.
3) Unleash Your Inner Mad Scientists
Science is like magic to kids, and if you make it fun now, you could have a future Jonas Salk or Marie Curie on your hands. You can buy a kiddie science kit on Amazon for less than $20, or you can create your own experiments in the kitchen. One of my favorites? A homemade volcano.
4) Write a Book
Your kid can’t read or write yet? Don’t let that get in the way of creating great literature! Ask your child to draw a picture and describe it, then write down what he says. That’s page 1. From there, ask leading questions about what the character would do next, if he has friends, what they like to do together, and so on.
5) Dismantle Your Couch
Go beyond the traditional pillow fort and create whatever your little one’s mind can think up. Make a boat and navigate the rocky seas, construct a castle and ward off dragons, or build a rocket ship and explore the final frontier. It’s imaginative play at its best, it can go on for hours and — maybe best of all — the mess is relatively contained.
6) Snuggle in For a Movie Day
Stay in your pajamas, take out your comfiest blanket, make some popcorn and settle in on the couch together. It’s a great excuse to cuddle, and hey, even Super Mom occasionally needs a break.
7) Put on a Show
Everyone loves a good dance party. Take it a step further by forming a much cooler, much-less-’70s Partridge Family–esque band. Bring out the instruments, make up your own songs and put on a show for the grandparents via FaceTime. Trust me when I say you’ll never have a more rapt, appreciative audience.