Winter can seem to drag on forever when your energetic little one can’t spend quite as much time running around outside. We’ve put together some ideas for indoor activities, as well as some tips on staying safe and healthy, to keep you and your children busy and happy until the weather warms up.
First, here are a few good places to go when you just don’t want to be outside:
- The Library – Even if you’re not regular library-goers, winter is a great time to head over to your local library and see what’s going on. In addition to the opportunity to build your kiddo’s love of books and reading, libraries have a lot to offer. Storytime can involve activities that get kids up and moving, as well as opportunities to learn about sitting and listening. The children’s section may also include a play area, with new toys and puzzles for your child to explore. And, of course, since a trip to the library costs nothing and requires little to no preparation, it’s an easy place to head whenever you are ready to get out of the house. For some helpful tips on taking toddlers to the library, check out this article from Growing Book by Book.
- Children’s Museum – We love children’s museums! They provide fabulous ways for kids to learn through exploration and play. However, they can be a bit overwhelming simply because they are often large and crowded. A few simple safety tips can ensure that both you and your child enjoy the time you spend at the museum.
- Plan your visit. Visit the museum’s website beforehand and check out the exhibits. Depending on how large the museum is, you might want to focus on just a few areas for your first visit and plan to explore additional exhibits another day.
- Talking about behavior expectations and what to do if you get separated before you go. There’s a good chance that as soon as you walk into the museum, your little one is going to be distracted by all the fun things they can see, so it’s a good idea to talk beforehand.
- When you get the museum, do take a few moments to engage your child’s attention and point out where to meet if you get separated and what the museum workers look like—e.g. what kind of uniforms or name tags they wear. Hopefully, if you have already discussed safety issues with them, a quick reminder will be all you need when you arrive.
- The best way to keep your little one safe at the museum is to stay engaged with them as they explore. Ask questions and join in the pretend play. This can be more challenging if you have more than one child, of course, but as much as possible, try to keep everyone playing together. Be sure to talk about this during your before-the-visit talk and let everyone know you will be exploring the museum as a group. If one child is anxious to visit another area, set a time limit and let them know that when time is up, you will move on.
This article from Bright Horizons also has some good tips about taking children to museums.
- The Rec Center – Be sure to check out your local rec center and see what child-friendly facilities they offer. You might be able to take your little one swimming at an indoor pool or play basketball with the older kids at an indoor court. Rec centers sometimes have other inside options such as game rooms or climbing walls, as well. You could even look into signing your child up for a class, such as gymnastics or dance. My local rec center offers a musical theater program for kids as young as five, so you really never know what you might find!
Of course, wherever you play this winter, you run the risk of picking up some unwanted cold and flu germs. Here are a few quick tips for keeping yourself and your children healthy:
- We all know one of the best ways to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. But it’s not always easy or possible to do that frequently enough, especially when our children are enjoying communal play areas like the library or a museum. Hand sanitizer is a great option for when you are out and about. Just keep a bottle with you and sanitize everyone’s hands periodically to keep those germs at bay (please keep in mind that although hand sanitizer can combat germs, they are not effective in washing away food proteins).
- Since you can’t avoid picking up germs altogether, try to help your children keep their hands away from their faces as much as possible. Germs enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth, so the less you touch those areas, the better.
You can find more tips for avoiding illness this winter by reading this article from Parents.com.
We hope you and your family have a fun and safe winter!
This post was written by FPIES Foundation volunteer Aubrey Fredrickson. Aubrey is a freelance writer and mother of two. Although not personally touched by FPIES, she is grateful for the opportunity to be involved with the families and volunteers of the FPIES Foundation.