Quite a few friends of mine are not homeschoolers. Shock! I know … And today they find themselves stuck inside in a tense situation (Hurricane Sandy bearing down on us) with kids stuck home from school, toys strewn everywhere and they just aren’t sure what to do. Are you in this situation?
Here are some fun things you and the kids can do together today and through the week (just in case!) to keep you all happy and keep Mommy sane! (I hear that’s important!)
DON’T Panic!! It’s tempting to just throw every toy you’ve got at those kids and maybe even drag out some presents you’ve been hiding just to keep them happy, but don’t give in. Be strong! Remember that especially younger children don’t really understand everything that’s going on, not because they can’t understand but because we just assume they can’t. Take a minute to talk about what’s going on.
Now… What on earth should you be doing with your days stuck inside to make them fun, relaxed and interesting?
Read a good book!
When you first wake up in the morning, grab your little snugglers and a fun book or two and cozy up on the couch to read together. Talk about the pictures if there are any, talk about the characters and what’s happening. Giggle together! This can be a lot of fun.
Make Breakfast Together.
You don’t have to rush out the door today. No appointments, no school, no outside commitments. So take some time to cook with your kids. Pancakes are fun and easy and involve lots of things kids can do. A child as young as 5 has been able to successfully flip pancakes in our house, with the help of a step stool and a watchful Momma, of course.
Since you aren’t in a rush, today is a really good day to work on cleaning habits! Young children, even 2 year olds, can learn to help empty the dishwasher, clean off the table after a meal, and put away their own toys. On days when you are home, it’s a good idea to make sure your little ones are involved in the chores that help make the home run smoothly. They can even help you fold the laundry, vacuum, sweep, run a sponge over the table, use a feather duster, and many more things that most people assume kids just shouldn’t be doing. Not only will they be learning valuable life skills, they’ll most likely be overjoyed to help with the grown-up work!
Consider giving your little one a spray bottle with just water in it (or water with a little vinegar) and a rag. Show them what needs washing and let them have at it. Your kitchen cabinets, dishwasher and oven fronts, refrigerator door, even windows that they can reach, might not be perfectly clean when they’re done, but they’ll be cleaner and your kids will have a ball!
Do you have any idea how much fun shaving cream can be to little kids? Even my biggest girls love it. Here’s what you do: Clean off your kitchen table (DO NOT DO THIS OVER A CARPET!!!) and spray some shaving cream on top of it. Tell your kids to have at it and watch what happens! You can mold it, draw in it, stick some on your brothers nose…. Whatever they do with it, you can be sure there will be lots of giggling and very little whining. Win-Win for Mom! Plus, you’ll have really clean kids when you rinse them off in the bath tub afterwards…
(Not my kids )
If you are feeling adventurous, you can take a little tempera paint and squirt it in there. (It will wash off most surfaces, but be careful of your grout if you have a tile table or tile floor. You can cover the table with one of those $1 plastic table clothes!) Check out what one family did with theirs:
Doesn’t that look really fun?
Make a craft together
It’s almost Halloween and there are LOTs of great crafts you can do. We have a few items in the store you might like to check out, like our Halloween corner bookmarks or monster corner bookmarks that just take a quick printing, cutting and gluing and they can be made in big batches for giving to neighborhood kids on Halloween.
Or make a paper chain in spooky colors. Hang it around the living room and then make ghosts and pumpkins to hang from the chain.
Make flashlight constellations!
You have your flashlights all out and ready for this emergency, right? Plenty of extra batteries? So why not enjoy this activity.
Grab some aluminum foil, a sewing pin (a push pin or a paperclip unbent can work too) and a good flashlight. Trace the outline of the flashlight onto a square of foil. Use your poking tool to poke a constellation into the foil (put the foil on a rug to make this easier for little hands). You can use an atlas of the universe to copy real constellations or you can make up your own. Spend a few minutes late in the afternoon tracing and poking different designs.
When it gets dark (especially if you have no power! ) use the squares to cover the front end of your flashlight. Turn it on and shine it at a wall to see your designs come to life!
While you have the pins out…
Pokey Pin Designs
These are really fun to make and great for dressing up a window for a holiday. And guess what? It’s almost Halloween! So while you carve the pumpkin, set your kids on the living room carpet with construction paper, a pattern (you can draw them a pumpkin or some other halloween design, or use coloring book pages torn out. Even magazines can give great patterns). Don’t forget your poking tool.
Lay the construction paper down and tape your pattern to the paper. Put it all on the carpet and poke your pin through the outline. Space the holes a little bit apart or you’ll end up “cutting” the design out instead of creating a poked design.
Here’s a sample where some kids pokey pinned spelling words! Cool project and educational too!
Whatever you do with the kids, keep it light and fun. Make sure they help you clean up at the end of each activity, and don’t over schedule the day. Let them have some down time where they have a moment to be alone. It’s hard to figure out who you are when you are constantly on the move. When you need a moment, you can even settle down with a cup of tea and let your kids have one too!
Good luck with the storm, friends! See you when it’s over…