Can’t Go Outside? Child Care in the Deep Midwinter

Midwinter snow days, rain, long cold weekends, or vacation, if you have kids and extended periods of indoor play, life can get tedious. Sure, you could turn on the TV or hand them the iPhone, but there is that nagging voice, saying you really should use this opportunity to do something constructive. So, how do you handle childcare, during those cold midwinter snow days, or any time of year, when you are stuck indoors? How about some games or crafts, to kill those midwinter blues?

Homemade Maracas

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plastic Easter eggs
  • Plastic spoons
  • Tape
  • Beads or dry beans

Fill your Easter eggs with beans or anything that will rattle. Beans or beads are something anyone with toddlers should have on hand. They are perfect for sorting and hand-eye coordination. Let your kids fill their eggs. Meanwhile, you can start cutting strips of tape—colorful tape would be perfect, but use what you have— tape the spoons together face to face so that your plastic egg can rest between them. You want to handle the first layers of tape. Small children may not tape it tight enough, so it is better for an adult to get it started.

Once the eggs are full enough to rattle—not overstuffed— tape the egg shut. You can also use a hot glue gun, but if you do not have one, don’t try something like Elmer’s glue. It will take too long, and kids will lose interest mid-project.

Help your child place the egg between the spoons until it nestled firmly inside. Now, turn the kids loose with tape. Aside from making sure your eggs are not going to fly across the room with a hard shake, these are all about having fun. Most of that fun is in the process of making them.

Alternatively, you can use almost any plastic ball that you can fill with beads. I recently made Christmas maracas with my nephews and niece. Using clear plastic Christmas bulbs, glitter and tape. Okay, more like a rattle ball, but the kids did not care. The larger ball is great for smaller children to grasp.

Also of many musical instrument alternatives, I find maracas are not as noisy and tedious as handing your kid a whistle or a bell. In tight quarters on snow days, you will appreciate the forethought.

Midwinter is the Time For Board Games

Don’t underestimate the classics. Kids not only will be grateful that you took the time to teach them the rules of checkers they will also probably remember playing this game with you long after that iPhone app is no longer working. Have board games to play before snow days and make an effort to start games with your kids. Also, keep in mind your child’s age and attention span. You cannot expect your preschooler to have fun if you introduce hard games like monopoly. Play the younger games for the whole family first. You can play harder games with older kids once the younger ones have lost interest, that is in about twenty minutes.

Bits & Pieces

I put up little pieces all year round. By little pieces, I mean anything interesting to children: stickers, a tiny hairbrush that an older kid got, that you put away because the baby might eat it, or the dollar pack of glow bracelets that you put away for party favors, but never used. All these little pieces or interesting bits put in a special box, one that is too high for kids to reach. On a rainy day pull down the box, and everything inside is magical for small children. Only still be wary of small piece and little kids.

This was more of a practical innovation for me, but if you want to make this box artificially. Purchase marbles, buttons and giant pop beads, well as miniature anything and put them up for a rainy day. If you have infants aim for larger items that can’t be swallowed. Infants love textures, fabrics, papers, plastic pieces that are rough or bumpy.


If your time indoors becomes extended—which can happen in the winter— don’t neglect exercise. Pent-up energy in children will inevitably lead to trouble. You will need to get hearts pumping and feet moving. So at least once a day set aside your sanity and crank up the tunes. Get involved yourself.  No one wants to dance alone, even kids, and if the adults are doing it, kids are more likely to try.


Another good indoor activity for kids around preschool to kindergarten age is Brook. Build a ‘brook’ out of towels or bed sheets, and in an open area, see who can jump the brook. Build said brook higher and up the challenge.

Still, to work off some energy, you may need to get even more creative. Why not try a laser maze? In a hallway or narrow space, tape yarn or crêpe paper between walls, then let the kids try to get by without touching or breaking the maze.


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