Christmas is over, but winter is FAR from over, especially here in the Midwest. You might be dreading putting away the Christmas decor (no more sparkly-fun?) and putting yourself on both a physical and financial diet. However, there is hope!
With two little ladies at home, I'm always looking for ways to make the winter months more pleasant for all of us. Here are some fabulous, new books to inspire you:
Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children's Storytelling (excellent variety of ideas to inspire story-telling and sharing; fab illustrations!)
Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World (love the "slow parenting" concept)
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun (great for grade school age kids)
Julie Andrews' Treasury For All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year (gorgeous illustrations, excellent diversity---subjects and holidays and celebrations, great for a span of ages and interests)
Other ideas for making winter more pleasant:
1: Get out all the kids' toys. Yep, all of them. Now, divide the toys into three piles, making sure to have a variety of toys in each pile. For example, don't put all the puzzles or all the toy cars into one pile. Once you have your three piles, place each pile into a large bin or basket. Rotate the toys weekly, meaning, only have one bin out at a time. If you have a range of ages in your household, be sure to make sure the "common toys" are safe for younger ones. Older ones can keep their special toys and smaller-parts toys in their rooms. Getting out a new bin of toys is very exciting for my little ones and cuts down dramatically on toy-clutter and toy-boredom. Too many toys is overwhelming for young ones.
2: Use that unused space! For example, we have a HUGE basement, but it's not finished which means it's not the most inspirational place to play. However, with some leftover carpet pieces (cleverly pieced together), we turned 1/3 of our basement into a play area of the kids. All the big toys go downstairs like the mini-trampoline, the basketball goal, the Barbie house, etc. It's usually a disaster down there, but I don't care because we can come upstairs and our guests never see the mess! An unfinished basement is also awesome for ride-on toys, especially when it's very hot or cold outside or it's raining.
Where is your unused space? It can even be a walk-in closet. Or can you have kids room-share and then turn a bedroom into a play room? Do you have a home with two living rooms? Convert one into a play area. Get creative!
Our new home had a "bonus" room intended to be a dining room, but we didn't want to eating areas, especially since the second room was closed off from the family living area. We converted the dining room into what we call the Art Room. It's painted in crazy colors, features our collection of black girl artwork, and hosts a toy kitchen, all the girls' board books, and tons of art supplies. We threw in a side-of-the-road-coffee-table (someone was throwing a solid wood, but scratched up coffee table away, so we snagged it) and mismatched chairs---perfect for art projects!
3: Make a list of possibilities and display it somewhere. When the kids say, "I'm bored," go to the list! On our list includes:
---visit the dollar store
---get hot chocolate at the bookstore
---go to the library (free!)
---arrange a play date
---visit the children's museum ($50 a year gets us a family membership!)
---have a dance party
---do yoga (we have these yoga cards which are fab!)
---make a music video
---do an art project
---play with water toys (like the Aqua Doodle Mat)
---paint (which is a BIG deal in our house)
---picnic in the living room
Also, for stay-at-home parents,
1: Search Facebook for a local swap-and-sell page and start selling unused, unwanted stuff. Winter is a great time to purge and organize! (Think of getting rid of all those unwanted Christmas gifts!) Or, start pricing your yard-sale items for spring.
2: Arrange a swap party where you and your friends can swap unused, unwanted items, and then donate all the leftovers!
3: Do charity work. I know this can be very challenging with little ones at home, but maybe it's a simple as making cards and mailing them to those who need encouragement. Collect magazines from friends and family and take them to a local nursing home. Make a meal for a foster family. Don't think you have to do something major or devote 20 hours a week to make a difference.
4: Rearrange the furniture. If you are sick of your great indoors looking as it does, change it up! The kids will like helping you move furniture around. Painting and decluttering are the cheapest ways to make a huge difference in the look of a room.
5: Learn something new. Order books from your library on a subject you've always wanted to learn more about such as photography, yoga, nutrition, etc.
6: Write articles. If you are an expert on a subject, start pitching article ideas to online and print publications. A great way to get started building your writing resume is to write guest blog posts for free. Once you get a few under your belt, start pitching to smaller publications. As you get jobs, being pitching to major publications. I have made as much as $300 on articles that have taken me an hour or less to write. :) Just make sure you LOVE writing and that you are actually good at it before putting forth the effort. Another option is to start a blog.
Do share! How do you bust winter boredom?