The weather is turning chilly here in the midwest, and before you know the winter months will be here. It's always a challenge to keep my younger children busy during the cold winter months. My goal is not for the screen time to increase during the winter months, so here are 5 ways on how I keep them busy during the winter months without increasing screen time!
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1. Rotate Toys
This is often talked about, but I find it essential during the winter months when they are stuck inside. Don't keep all their toys out for them to see all the time! Tuck away puzzles, a block set, maybe a dolly, a tea set, and pull them out during the rough moments that come in the winter months.
This has saved me so many times over the years, and given me an afternoon where the little ones are kept occupied and happy. A cluttered toy room or bedroom might not be the help you think it is. If the toys are always out they are not as exciting to play with, but if you keep some tucked away it's like Christmas morning all over again when they are pulled out!
2. Use Audiobooks
I've always used audiobooks in our home, but when we got a Yoto player a year ago the time spent listening to audiobooks or music dramatically increased. I'm not sure what it is about that little square audiobook player, but the Yoto has been a huge hit with my girls! I can't recommend it enough, it makes an excellent gift and the cards you put in it to play books or music are wonderful gift ideas (or stocking stuffer ideas!).
If your child struggles to have a daily quiet time in the afternoon, consider letting them bring the Yoto player to their bed. They can use headphones to keep it quiet, but can stay occupied with a story during quiet time (which moms desperately need!).
It's so important to keep hands on learning activities available for our little ones! One reason I love our Chalk Full of Design chalkboards is that they are easy to pull out, with no mess, and require no thought on the part of mom to plan an activity. You can change up how you use the chalkboards!
Some ideas for variety:
- Trace the dots.
- Color in the dinosaur chalkboard with colored chalk.
- You can trace over the ABC or numbers, then hand your child a paint brush with a little cup of water and let them trace over the chalkboard and erase the chalk! You don't want to soak the chalkboard with water, but a little bit of water on a small paint brush is fine, and so much fun!
- Use wooden alphabet or letter tiles to place on the chalkboards, matching the letter tile with the letter on the ABC chalkboard.
- Write a list of words and have your. child copy them on the column lined chalkboard.
- Give them a blank chalkboard and a chalk pencil, along with a basic beginner drawing book, and let them draw away!
These are just a handful of ideas on how to keep your child busy using our chalkboards, the options are endless!
4. Tea Parties!
It's amazing how much my children (both boys and girls!) have loved tea parties over the years. Once your child can handle boiling some water on the stove they can even prepare the tea, or ask an older sibling to make it for the younger ones. I've found it takes as long for my girls to plan and prepare the tea party as it does for them to actually sit down and do it.
They can make a snack to go with the tea, or keep a tin of butter cookies from Aldi on hand! When I'm extra ambitious and want to add learning to it, I'll do a themed poetry tea party. I did a baseball one for my boys once, with the table decorated in baseball gear and baseball poetry. They loved it!
You can let them use your tea cups, or give them a miniature tea set!
If you shudder at that word, don't despair because I do as well! I can sew, but not craft. I've made peace with the idea of not doing elaborate crafts with my children, but that doesn't mean I never let them make a crafting mess.
Construction paper can go a long way with keeping little ones busy for awhile! The rule is, they have to clean up all their paper clutter afterwards.
I'm not sure why but my children adore when I google free coloring pictures and print them out a new coloring picture. It can be a themed coloring picture (tractors for our 2 year old son or ballerina pictures for our 5 year old daughter), or just surprise them with a random picture. I can't tell you how many times this has saved me during a rough moment.
Stamp sets are good, but I don't use them for toddlers.
Stickers are a great option for little ones, let them stay busy just putting them on a piece of paper.
I love the Do A Dot markers, it's an easy way to let younger children feel like they are painting without the mess!
I hope this gives you a few new ideas as you face the winter months!