The fishy bow-up pool has been deflated and put away, and there are only a few final outdoor things to squeeze out of the year. Pumpkin patch hunting and maybe a maize jaunt and perhaps some apple donut trips if you're lucky enough to live in the Midwest. But soon, if not already, it will be too cold to send the gang outdoors to play. I'm a mom of four, three of them rowdy boys, and losing that outside play option is enough to make me get teared up and a little twitchy. What to do?! Here are some of my favorite ideas for indoor fun:
1. Create an indoor gym. No we don't actually have an indoor gym, but I like to re-create it a little and this can be done in even the tiniest of homes (like mine!). I found a small trampoline at one of those re-use sports stores and that one item alone has been a life saver. If you haven't witnessed the magic of a 4 year old wild boy bouncing on a trampoline and then being able to calmly sit somewhere, I urge you - get thee to the sports store! We also have large bean bags for falling on and wrestling on, and hope to soon find a hammock style chair to hang from the ceiling in the boys' room. The jumping, wrestling, landing hard and hanging are all sensory-filled ways that kids can play without getting MORE wild and without getting bored in 5 minutes.
2. Start a cooking school. My kids happen to be huge fans of any food show - especially Iron Chef. What I discovered is that I can get everyone around the table and teach a skill or just let them pretend play with some of our kitchen tools and playdough. It easily translates to them helping out at meal times, but really the big win here is that they can imitate the cooking shows and become home chefs and it keeps them happy for hours!
3. Turn off the electronics. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, believe me. The TV and video games feel like a saving grace when there's nothing to do indoors, right? I've actually found the opposite to be true. At first the electronics seem all magical because the kids are captivated for good chunks of time. But with long term use my kids actually became more wild, and more used to the passive entertainment so much so that they seemed to have forgotten how to play. It's like their brains were set to coast and they had no interest in anything but a tv show or a game on my iPhone. Once we restricted electronics to just a bit in the morning and one show for wind down time at night, I found my kids returned to their toys, to having conversations that weren't full of bad attitudes, to being present. They remembered how to pretend play and woke up their imaginations again and get this - stopped whining and fighting so much. They became much more able to entertain themselves in the house when they weren't just plugging in to something all day. It's hard at first, it felt like a detox when we first made these changes - but hang in there. It's so worth it!
What are some ideas you have for helping moms with the change from summer to fall and keeping the gang entertained indoors? We'd love to hear your tips!