Indoor Activities Without the Mess

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Happy November! I realize that many of us are nearing our threshold of indoor time spent with our children (and for some, it’s hard to admit). I mean, we have had muddy, rainy, windy weather, exhausting political marathons, social unrest, the pandemic, virtual schooling, sniffles and coughs (oh no! Is it allergies? A cold? The flu? Covid?!). The stress of being cooped up seems to affect everyone in my house; my lizard has even taken to early hibernation to seemingly avoid the darkness looming now that winter is coming. I don’t know about you, but my patience has been tested immensely at home, and I’ve been searching for a little solace (admittedly, pajamas seem to help a bit).

Since turning our clocks to reflect the onset of yet more darkness in our forthcoming blustery days, I feel like we need to prepare for the fact that most of us will continue spending even more time indoors with our little gremlins…I mean, our beautiful children. The planner in me likes to have things ready, so when my kids are nearing a nervous breakdown from yet another dark dreary day at home, I have the option of go-to indoor activities for them to entertain themselves with.

Gosh, I love my kids (and most days I even like them), really, I do. But there are some days when I wonder where they come from. The arguing, the blatant ignoring of my instructions, and the downright messes they make which they are oblivious…(cue the many new unicorn hairs that are appearing in my dark brown hair).

In an attempt to keep my sanity (and to continue to like my children), I made a list of indoor activities my kids can do without breaking everything I treasure (or remodel all my furniture making forts). Well, let’s be honest. Everything I treasure is packed away in a box for safety until my kids are older…so what I’m getting at is this: these games shouldn’t break windows, pets, or anything that could cause a trip to the emergency room; they are games to promote light physical activity, teamwork, and creativity (with little parental assistance).

At the top of my list is mini “indoor cornhole”. Recently, my sister purchased this fun mini gift for my kids, and at seven and nine years old, they can play together and most of the time get along. The rules are the same as the outdoor version, but the bean bags are so light that it would take someone with a professional pitching arm to really damage anything in my house. This was nice because it has minimal setup and cleanup (which is always a bonus).

Next are traditional games like dominoes, playing cards, and pick-up-sticks. These three options are good for various ages because they can be used in their traditional sense, or they can be played with in creative ways (castle building with playing cards, obstacle course creation with pick-up-sticks partnered with dominoes).

A new addition to my house is ping pong for the kitchen table. Since my kids are young yet, I didn’t want to commit to spending a handsome amount on a real ping pong table. Instead, I purchased a net that clips to the sides of my kitchen table (two paddles and two balls came with the set). I think the only drawback with this one is that my kitchen table actually needs to be clear (no water glasses, graded homework, tiaras, nothing) which is rare because, well, kids.

There are some fun options if you google “indoor carnival games” as well. My kids liked saving toilet paper rolls to glue together to make a “marble drop” maze. This game can be adjusted for various heights, point values, or even prizes (or healthy snacks).

I imagine you can see a theme here with these indoor activities suggestions: no games on any screens. That’s right, I’ve chosen a list of games away from the tablets, computers, and other technological gadgets. Since my kids have already logged numerous hours watching videos and typing on screens, I find that they neeeeeeed the time away from those items. I don’t think I’m the only parent who notices irritability arising in their children when too much time is spent with technology.

On the days when you’ve met your limit and these indoor activities just aren’t cutting it, there’s one last activity you can toss out there for your kids (and your own well-being). It may be messy, it may be disliked by the faint of heart (my seven year old falls into this category), but hey, we are in Wisconsin people! Bundle up and tell them to play outside!

It is my sincerest hope no matter what activity you choose, that you are surviving, taking care of yourself, and enjoying the time with your kids (at least part of it). We are sliding into the season of giving, so continue giving your love and patience the best you know how… even when your gremlins make it seem as though your coffee isn’t strong enough and the days are impossibly long. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other mommas when it feels like you’ve reached your limit, because girl– we’re experiencing it too. MLK said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars…” It may seem as though this is an awful time of many dark days, but I can assure you, your kids will remember the fun you’ve had and the time you’ve spent together–those are the real stars.

Need to up your indoor game night stash?  Check out Perfect Fix for Being Cooped Up In Winter – Family Game Night

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