Thursday, January 17, 2013

How Do You...Keep Kids Occupied On Winter Days?

How do you keep your kids from becoming stir crazy when the weather keeps everyone inside?

Granted, it's only January 17, but our winter has been mild so far and the kids ask to go outside almost every afternoon.  They've been building a playground/obstacle course on the back of our property out of logs, pieces of bamboo, and imagination.  It has occupied all five of them for hours.  

Also, we have an outside dog.  Rain or shine, wind or calm, someone has to bundle up and go outside with the dog several times a day.  As long as the weather is bearable, I ask the dog caretakers to spend extra time playing with Finn (the dog) in the afternoon.  It gets out his puppy wiggles and it gets out their kid wiggles so it works for everyone.

Today, though, the bitter icy air is scheduled to arrive and several inches of snow are predicted this afternoon. The younger kids are the ones who succumb to the stir-crazies first because they are too little to join in the outside responsibilities.  No inside activity gets them moving like when they are outside, but a rousing singing/dancing session like we often have before bed is a good substitute.   Also, simple craft projects or Play-Doh at the table, snuggling with a stack of books, or cooking treats together in the kitchen all engage the mind, if not the body. 


Sometimes it simply helps to leave the house, even if the actual time spent outside is minimal.   We like to go to the library or visit friends when we need a break from routine.  When we return home, we all feel refreshed from the change of pace.  

I try to adopt the attitude that the season of winter is a season for stimulating the senses instead of the muscles.  I work on developing ideas, tastes, smells, and comfort in this time when we can't be as active as some of us would like to be.   I make hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream.  I read good stories and offer bright paper to color. We play games, watch movies, and pretend.  I simmer soup and bake bread so that when we go to bed, our minds are full and satisfied, even if we have been bound by the four walls. 

How do you battle the stir-crazies?   Let us know in the comments. 


  1. Unfortunately, during the winter we don't get to play outside everyday. We do spend extra time reading, crafting, and baking, though. We also get the wiggles out with lots of dancing.

  2. I like to save the craft projects that Abi gets for Christmas for the winter months. We also like to sit by the wood stove and read while drinking hot cocoa. We also like to play games and do puzzles. Most days we take the dog for a walk if it's not too wet or cold so that helps get out some of the wiggles as well and is a nice diversion from our four walls.

  3. I am so NOT a cold weather person so winter outside activities are very hard for me to jump into! That's what daddy is for!! hahaha! My kids only get outside in the winter occasionally...although part of that is just my own resistance to dressing them up like snowman only to have them want to come back inside 10 minutes later. We just got our first lego set this Christmas for the kids and it has been a major source of inside/winter fun!!

    I would much prefer to live in a climate where cold meant a low of about 60 but God has me here instead so I'm learning to be thankful for seasons and embrace the cold!

  4. I know this doesn't get the kids active, but we don't watch much TV so if they are really going stir crazy sometimes I put a movie on and they are glued to it until it is done. Then they usually need to move around so they will clean their rooms or think of something they can do themselves.


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