How to Avoid Cabin Fever: Winter Activities for Kids

indoor activities for Christmas time crafts games ideas
Just a quick heads up friends, we were gifted the Mazda CX-9 to drive during the week of our trip. While it was provided at no cost to us, all thoughts and opinions are my own and I never share about products that my family and I don’t absolutely love.

When the very first red-tinged leaf falls from the oak tree in our front yard, I feel two very distinct feeling bubbling up in my belly. The first, is excitement. Excitement for watching movies under snuggly blankets, decorating our house for Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas and finally getting to put away the UV-protectant swimming shirts that my boys insisted on wearing every day, for the entire summer.

The second feeling, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, is dread. Dread for the coming months of being trapped within the four walls of our house, without an opportunity for my two, very bouncy children to burn off any sort of steam between sun-up and sun-down.

Because we’ve all been there. That third cold/windy/icy/god-forsaken day in a row that makes you contemplate if there is, in fact, an actual amount of children’s television background noise that will make your brain explode. After you’ve built your sixth pillow fort and completed ALL the crafts – and insisted and then re-insisted that your kids please, for the love of all things in this world and the next – play nicely together.

There’s only so much one woman can take.

So that’s why, when our family took a trip up north to visit my family in Boston for Thanksgiving, I thought I would use it as a trial run to plan some active indoor winter activities for our family to use when winter weather finally hits Nashville.

My criteria for this little experiment was simple. All activities must A) Get us off the couch and B) Allow my kids to jump/run/wiggle/climb enough to tire them out for our after-lunch rest time. Thankfully, we were driving a Mazda CX-9 throughout our trip, so we were able to pretend to be one of those families that drives a mid-size crossover SUV and actually has room for everything that traveling with two kids entails. Additionally, we were able cruise around with my kids sitting more than an arms-length from each other (which was super great for avoiding arguments over who can make a better pretend fighter plane sound) and we had room for any aunts/uncles/grandparents who wanted to tag along!

mazda suv with 3rd row

mid size suv with optional 3rd row

Bundled Up Basketball, Football, Bike Riding, etc.

I recently heard an expression that went something like, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment.” And while you will probably never catch me jumping wintery puddles in head to toe rain gear, this expression did inspire me to bundle up my kiddos and take them outside, despite the frosty temps.

Ninja turtle bike helmets for kids

Sure, we went through enough tissues to stuff a training bra, but in the process I think our family was able to collectively miss more jump shots than any basketball court has ever seen. And that’s a win in my book.

Additionally, my kiddos were so beat from our pickup games that this was a daily occurrence:

neutral couch comfortable inexpensive

Active Scavenger Hunts

If I’ve learned anything during my years of parenting in the trenches, it’s that a pack of yellow Post-it notes and a few little “treasure” items can turn a morning around faster than any Daniel Tiger ditty ever could. The trick to an active scavenger hunt is to hide your clues in silly places, like under your child’s bed (if it’s not hazardous…) and make sure the clues require your kiddos to criss-cross your house as much as possible. Pro tip: I like to write/draw clues that rhyme, so both my 3-year-old & 6-year-old can participate in figuring them out.

winter games for kids

 

During our most recent active scavenger hunt, I do believe both my boys worked up a sweat before they discovered their treasure of $2. Well, actually $1.75, because now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure my 3-year-old paid me $0.25 for “working hard making cookies in the kitchen”.

He so gets me.

bright neutral kitchen with large oven and stovetop

LEGO Land or Other Equally Awesome Indoor Activity Space

Admittedly, every city doesn’t have a LEGO building mecca, but for those that do – it is worth every penny! Our family spent hours riding rides, playing games (and because you asked, yes I DID score the high-score for our entire family on the laser-shooting one), and building epic LEGO race cars.

But my favorite part of the entire experience was the incredible climbing structure that had our boys swinging, jumping, climbing and sliding until their eyes could barely stay open.

Actually, wait. I take that back. My favorite part was the 4-D movie because the special glasses hide my face and I could close my eyes through the whole thing.

And as an added bonus…

mazda cx 9 midsize suv optional 3rd row

Again, many thanks to our Mazda CX-9 for brilliantly including window covers so that immediately after I snapped this photo, our car instantly transformed into a mobile bedroom.

Gigantic Art

If drawing on regular sized paper with regular sized markers is a regular amount of fun, it stands to reason that drawing on giant sized paper with giant sized markers would be a giant amount of fun!

It’s basic math, people.

large paper and large markers for kids

To let my kiddos stretch out and flex their creative muscles, I rolled out a giant-sized piece of butcher paper on the floor and let them sit/lay/crouch on the ground to create an epic (their word) battle scene of their own creation. The photo above is of them planning out what they are going to draw on the giant-er paper once I got it on the floor. So basically, this activity was a 2-for-1.

Score.

By the end of the week, what we ended up with something that looked eerily like a 14th century Roman fresco depicting a furious sea battle – so that was pretty cool.

But remember friends, winter is coming. And there will be days, nay – weeks, when you don’t feel like layering up and dragging your kiddos outside so that your collective snot can freeze in your nostrils with each inhalation. And when those days come, always remember, there is absolutely no shaming in pulling one of these:

gray scale living room with sectional couch and minimal wall art

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