With shorter days and colder weather, it’s inevitable that you’re going to spend more time indoors over winter. And as much as our family likes to get outside in all weather, sometimes we just need a day indoors.
But the comfort of being inside on a cold, wet day is always threatened with the risk of... child boredom! This horrible infliction can manifest itself in many ways depending on the age of the victim. One symptom is the incessant moaning about anything and everything. Another is random destruction. And one symptom we commonly see with our boy could be confused with needing the toilet. He can be sitting nicely on the sofa and then the fidgets start. First his arms, then his legs just twitch like he’s flicking off Mexican itching ants. It’s like his energy needs to get out somehow.
“Fear Not!”, as those Christmas angels famously said. There are some remedies which don’t involve expensive treatments, or raiding the wine cupboard (you, not the children).
Some of them will help spend the excessive energy that’s bubbling dangerously close to nuclear meltdown. Others will help keep their brains occupied and may even make some nice memories.
With Christmas conveniently falling in the middle of winter some of the ideas even make use of the mounds of recycling that you couldn’t cram into your recycling bin. That is assuming that your sweet little cherubs have made it onto the nice list and are getting presents this year.
Forts and dens
Building a den or a fort inside is a pretty standard indoor activity and generally ranks pretty highly for fun. Especially when there is some destruction involved.
Dens can be built out of tables, sofas, chairs, the exercise bike you got last Christmas you’ve been meaning to use. You can build leftover Christmas boxes into your den to create doorways or extra rooms. We often have an excess of really strong boxes, you know the ones with 12 bottle shaped holes? They can be great for adding a fort to the den. Something that will inevitably need to be blown up at some point.
As well as playing inside a den, watching a movie or playing a board game by torchlight inside can add a new lease of life to activities that were boring in the plain light of day.
As is standard dad behaviour, I have a growing stash of timber offcuts and random DIY bits that I hold onto because they will come in handy one day. Until that day, we find they make great crazy golf courses. If you don’t have spare wood offcuts you can just as easily use rolled up towels. Don’t forget to make it interesting with a fairway down the stairs, or in the bathtub. We find plastic cups on their side work well as the hole.
You can use empty Christmas wrapping paper tubes as the golf clubs and squeeze wrapping paper into balls and tape them to make the balls. You can adjust the level of potential damage by how tightly you scrunch the wrapping paper. Just remember that the looser the scrunch, the less they’ll roll, but the more times the clubs will be swung at them. So choose wisely.
Indoor treasure hunt
Hopefully your little kiddies have been spoilt over Christmas and they’ve got some new toys. Now’s your chance to hide them all again.
Doing an indoor treasure hunt takes a little bit of brain space to come up with clues, but you can make it as short or as long as your think they’ll be entertained for. You could even add in some surprise leftover chocolate as a surprise treat after the 50th clue! There are some great resources online to help with scavenger hunts, including clue sheets. Just Google it.
Make a magazine
For the creative types why not put together a family magazine? Think about what makes up a great magazine, flicking through Cherubs will give you somewhere to start, and come up with articles that suit your family’s interests.
You could get your kids to make a recipe, writing out the ingredients and taking photos at each step of the method. Maybe there could be a winter workout plan where you come up with a circuit to test your skills. Once you’ve come up with your articles and written them up, draw some art around the page, colour them in, add some photos and stick it all together.
Having a bored dice is more of a quick fix than an activity. The idea is that when someone’s showing signs of being bored or you actually hear them say those dreaded words, “I’m Bored”, they roll the dice.
You can either make a dice out of a box and write an activity on each side or use a normal dice and give each number an activity. Eg. 1 = 20 Jumping Jacks, 2 = stand on one leg for one minute. For older kids you could make it more competitive by seeing who can do the activity the fastest, or hold it the longest.
Tidy up games
When all else fails it’s ok to let the kiddies go a little crazy and make a mess. But while they’re doing that think about how you can make games out of tidying up. Kids have a knack of working out quite quickly when they’re being scammed, but this can sometimes be masked by throwing some healthy competition. Who can be the first to tidy up 5 red things?
This activity might not get you all the way back to your show home living room, but hopefully your children are a little more worn out, more likely to sleep and you’ve staved off boredom for another day.