Going crazy this #winter? Get help now! #parenting via jennyherman.com

Winter Parenting: 68 Ways to Survive Cooped up Energy without Going Insane

Winter provides a different type of parenting problem

I live in the Midwest. Winters get cold.  I have two boys. Add in extra need for movement, developmental delay that causes lack of control, being a one-car family, apartment living, and you’ve got a potentially perfect parenting storm.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post “12 Ways to Grab your Child’s Attention without Yelling“. Sometimes you just need more than ways to talk to your kids. You need things for them to DO! After my day today, I’ve decided I must not be the only parent who needs a list of things to do when the kids are going stir crazy. I know not everyone can do each of these, but hopefully this list gives you some choices. Grab a pen–here we go!


Get Physical

Time laps, jumping jacks, push ups, etc. Then see if your kids can beat their time.

Create an obstacle course.

Have relay races.

Play sports inside–we’ve made basketball hoops from cardboard boxes. You can use a laundry basket for a soccer goal.

Speaking of laundry baskets, have your kids take turns giving each other rides–the pushing will be a workout!

Dance to a Pandora channel.

Play balloon volleyball.

Play balloon ping pong.

A Barrel of Laughs

Watch funny videos on YouTube.

Check out some joke books from the library.

Take turns making up your own jokes.

Give your kids the comic section of the newspaper. Have them choose a comic, cut it out, glue it to construction paper, cut out again, and give to someone else. See if they can put it in order.

Play the classic Telephone game.

Grab a bunch of odds and ends clothes. Put them in a garbage bag. Give one child a pair of gloves. Time how long it takes them to put on all the clothes. Then another child tries. Fastest time wins! (Or, gather two sets of clothes and make it a relay race.)

Get Creative

Bring out the watercolors, crayons, markers, finger paints, etc.

How about Play Doh? Even better, make your own!

Get a long roll of paper and let your children make murals.

Get cheap crafts at the dollar store or use coupons at craft stores.

Start a new hobby together. Donate hats you’ve made.

Let your kids discover the possibilities of duct tape.

Set up a puppet show.

Create a play.

Design bright paper airplanes and then have a contest for design, distance, and speed.

Make sock puppets.

Have a scavenger hunt.

Bring out the board games and let everyone choose one favorite.

Have a circus.

Talent show time!

Let your kids create a scavenger hunt for you.

If you build it…

Don’t forget the quintessential favorite tent building! Maybe even make a contest out of it!

See what your kids can build with marshmallows and toothpicks.

Play a Lego version of charades. Write up cards, take turns choosing one, and your children must build it instead of act out.

Give your kids cardboard and duct tape.

Build an indoor mini golf course.

Technology Time

Have a movie afternoon with popcorn.

Make your own movies.

Have a Wii or Xbox tournament, complete with homemade medals or trophies.

Grab a Good Book

Head to the library and grab a bunch of new books on a certain topic. Spend the day learning new things.

Make a fun reading nook and have DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) times throughout the week.

Checkout wordless picture books and have your children write or tell a stories to go with them.

Watch a movie version of a book you’ve read and compare/contrast.

Write a play based on a favorite chapter or book.

Dress up like your favorite story characters and have a party.

Make up a board game to go with your favorite book.

Cook Up Some Fun

Make cookies for neighbors.

Try a new ethnic recipe.

Create your own cooking contest, maybe like Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen.

Let your kids practice a kid-friendly recipe and learn to make it solo.

Try different pancake versions.

Give your kids some cookbooks and let them create themed menus.

Get brave and let your children create a recipe–provide parameters if you’re really nervous.

Play Nicely with Others

Arrange a play date.

Go on a field trip with some friends.

Have a snow party.

Have a beach party.

Have a non-birthday birthday party.

Have a cookie/cupcake/snack exchange.

Pay it Forward

Get your kids together and make a list of ways to do random acts of kindness (Adapt these ideas).

Shovel sidewalks for those who can’t–special needs parents who are busy, elderly, single moms, etc.

Find out who needs help and send your kids over for an hour.

Take care of animals at an animal shelter.

Fold bulletins for church, stuff mailers for charities, or otherwise help with administrative tasks.

Get out

Have a snow day and try a new flavor of hot chocolate or hot cider when you come back in.

Fill water bottles with different colors of water and use them to draw in the snow.

Need more snow ideas? Click here!

Go walking at the mall. Take pennies to throw in the fountain.

While you’re at the mall, practice money skills. Have your kids price clothing, toys, books, etc. See who can find the best deal.

Visit a museum.

Now it’s YOUR turn! What have you done to help your children burn off extra energy when they are cooped up during the winter? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Jenny Herman

Jenny Herman wants to live in a world where dark chocolate dispensers reside on every corner. As a homeschooling special needs mom, she’s been featured in Autism Parenting Magazine, Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids: Mostly True Stories of Life on the Spectrum, and various blogs. If she survives the onslaught of testosterone in her home, she may take a moment to blog, read a book, try a new recipe, or loom knit a gift. You can find Jenny’s book The Power of One: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life on Amazon.

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