Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekly Column: Winter Boredom Busters

At the beginning of Christmas vacation, I was excited for some down time with my daughters.  Day after day with no preschool, classes, or appointments to be reached on time.  Day after day of lounging in our pajamas, eating slow breakfasts, and enjoying each other.
But day after day with two preschoolers, even during the best of times, can become daunting.  By the end of week one, all of my plans for fun, in-home activities had been exhausted along with much of my patience.  We were all feeling cooped up and a little bored, so I decided to compile a list of ways for us to keep busy during week two.  Beyond our usual boredom-busters of painting, baking, and playing with play-doh, I plan to use a few of these activities for the days when we can’t – or don’t want to – get outside. 
Indoor Bubbles
Place several drops of dish soap in the bottom of a sink before filling it with a few inches of warm water, letting the bubbles rise as high as possible.  Sit the kids on stools or chairs to play with the mountains of bubbles.  Provide spoons and cups for creative tools and leave a few towels nearby for spills, but know that water will be spilled – and that’s half the fun.  Alternatively, scoop piles of bubbles from the top of the water, place them in bowls on a towel spread on the floor, and drop spare coins in to be scrubbed with toothbrushes or paintbrushes.  The bubbles will need to be replenished occasionally, but they should take up part of a long morning, at the very least. 

Indoor Picnics
Pull out an actual picnic basket and blanket, and pack it for a lunch in the middle of your living room floor.  Let the kids arrange the blanket, set the ‘table,’ and plan which foods to pack.  The act of eating anywhere other than the table is always exciting for my kids, so the promise of a picnic can make our morning fly by quickly.  For an added treat, we’ll turn on a video (because nothing says ‘picnic’ like watching Curious George, right?) and make the lunch last much longer than usual. 

Print Pictures
For the days when I’m looking for a few moments of quiet time, I know I can count on coloring pages to keep my kids happy.  There are tons of free coloring pages online, and if you know what character or topic you’re searching for, they’re easy to find.  Try for an exhaustive list of popular children’s characters, or for more educational pages.  Print off a stack of pictures to surprise your kids with, or let them help choose a few favorites.  Either way, free coloring pages will keep us occupied long enough to regain some household calm. 

Book Nest
Whether it’s a stack from the library or our own shelves, my kids love reading, and more is always better.  Since we usually don’t have time to designate to endless books, an at-home day is perfect for curling up with a giant stack.  We’ll pile pillows and blankets into a special ‘book nest’ on the floor or bed, haul in all of our favorite stories, and settle in for a marathon reading session.  A couple dozen books later, we’ll have passed at least an hour just in reading.  We’ll be building on our love of stories while also sharing calm moments – a blessing on long days.

But no matter what activities we use to fill our days, I’ll certainly ask my daughters for tips; they’re a treasure trove of creativity.


  1. I totally love you for this post. I have way too many active kids to keep busy - all day every day for the rest of the foreseeable future - and I need some sanity inducing activities!

  2. Love the indoor bubbles idea! I'll be whipping that out sometime this week :D

  3. What wonderful ideas!! I would bet they all love it. When my girls were younger, one of their favorite indoor activities was finger painting with pudding. We would take any flavor and they would get to paint on cookie sheets. This would keep them occupied for a looooooong time, than it was into the bath for a nice long play session with bubbles. Life can be really fun if you just use a little imagination. Love the indoor bubbles too!!

  4. Those are great ideas! I especially love the bubbles :)

  5. Great ideas! And very timely--it's been so long since we've had real seasons, I'd almost forgotten that it gets COLD in the winter! I guess it's welcome back to inside days and cooped-up children!

  6. Thanks for the great ideas! I sooo dread the long months of January and February, so any ideas are clung to by this boredom-fearing mama! I especially love the "book nest" idea. We already love to read, but making a little "nest" to cuddle up in would make it even better!

  7. Great ideas! I'm totally bookmarking this post for future reference!


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