Eight of my last fourteen days have been spent at home, with the girls in quarantine. We were invaded by a nasty run of chest infections, followed by hand foot and mouth disease a week later. When the chest infections first hit, we embraced the sick day. We stayed in our pyjamas until lunchtime, dawdled over breakfast, made a nest of blankets, and cuddled up in front of the tv watching the classic Winnie the Pooh and Olympic gymnastics on YouTube (my daughter is obsessed with ‘the flips’).
But by the end of the first morning, the novelty started to wear thin. And by the end of the second day, after I’d used every ‘rainy day’ trick in the book to keep my girls happily occupied indoors, we were officially stir crazy. It made me realise just how much I depend on being out of the house, letting the girls run free in a park. So with winter here, and weekends where the weather may not be best for venturing out, I’ve put together a bucket list of things we can do when we have to stay in.
- Wardrobe Clear-out: Both girls love throwing all their clothes out of the drawers, and it tends to mean I can take a quick look at what fits, what has too many holes, and make a list of what we need. Plus, my toddler can practice getting dressed and put together funny outfits.
- Egg Painting: A classic Easter activity that works year round, and brings a new dimension to the usual paint and paper activity. Boil some eggs and let them cool, then let your little ones loose decorating them. They make a good snack or backup meal afterwards.
- Mopping: I’m not joking here – my eldest LOVES to help mop and hoover, and it will occupy her for a good thirty minutes. Just don’t expect the final result to be perfect.
- Mask-making: Find a template online and copy it onto a blank piece of paper. Let them decorate and follow up with some imaginary play.
- Yoga: My eldest saw me doing a quick twenty minute YouTube session, and asked to get involved. Since then, she’s actively asked to do yoga with me, which I love. There are loads of uploaded sessions on YouTube (just search for Toddler Yoga). It tends to work best late in the afternoon when we all need some calm time.
- Photo sort: My parents recently brought over a massive box of childhood photos, which my daughters love to look at. My next task is to go through them with her and get them into a book. But just looking at the pictures can easily occupy an hour.
- Races: As my youngest (she’s one) gets more mobile, I’m trying to find ways to encourage the girls to play together. One of the activities that I think will work is setting up an obstacle course, where my eldest can do a lot of the ‘thinking’ and my youngest can follow along. Simple things like ‘Push Margot in the trolley’ means both are involved.
- Scavenger Hunt: Hide objects around the house and set the little ones on a hunt to find them. Once they’ve found everything, get them to do the hiding.
- Rice Drawing: Put a layer of uncooked rice into a square baking pan (edges are important, or else you’ll end up with rice everywhere!) and let your little ones draw in the rice with their fingers. The noise seems to delight them, and it’s been a good way for my eldest to practice writing letters.
- Dance Party: When all else fails we do tend to put some music on, turn the lights out, and have a little disco in our kitchen. It’s easy, low maintenance, and guaranteed to get everyone in a better mood.
So there’s my bucket list – would love to hear how you’re making the most of the long winter days! Drop your suggestions in the comments below.