When the days are cold and snowy and your kids have been stuck inside for what feels like forever, you're likely to hear the above (often several times in one day). And can you blame your kids? There are still months left before temperatures rise.
If your kids have started invoking that complaint, here are 10 fun ways to keep them entertained during the winter months -- without spending a fortune.
The winter days may seem endless, but a little creativity and these fun ideas can help you keep your kids entertained, without breaking the bank. And if you need help with the bank, check out this free guide to teaching your kids about money.
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"Sports" here is loosely defined, since it's probably not the best idea to let the kids play hockey or baseball in the house. Turn your rooms into a wacky Olympic obstacle course with games like balloon volleyball, bowling with rolled-up socks and soda bottles, and mini golf with cups as the targets. Offer several prizes so no one feels left out, like "most creative playing style" or "most enthusiastic athlete."
Dust off all those board games your kids neglect and create a several-day tournament. If they normally have their eyes glued to a smartphone or tablet, a physical game –- you know, with tangible pieces they can hold in their hands -- could be a novel change of pace. Alternately, stump your kids with games, puzzles and tricks that can keep them entertained for days. Check out game and puzzle books specifically geared towards keeping your kids amused.
We're talking more of a blanket mansion here. Let your kids have their way with your living room, rearranging furniture, pulling cushions onto the floor and draping everything with all the blankets and sheets you can muster up. Let them eat in the fort, read in the fort, even sleep in the fort as a living room "campout."
The actual talent show will take up maybe an hour of your kids' time, but preparing for the show could take hours if not days, depending on how involved they become. If there are dance routines to be created and rehearsed, costumes to be made, scripts to be written and memorized and programs to be created, they could entertain themselves for quite some time.
Just hop on Pinterest, and you'll find enough fun, cheap arts and crafts ideas to keep any kid -- of any age, --busy from now 'till the spring thaw. Some favorite winter-themed ones we recommend:
Marshmallow or cotton ball snowmen.
DIY snow globes.
Kill two birds with one stone by clearing out your closet and drawers and using what you find to create a dress-up kit for your kids. You get to streamline your wardrobe and accessories down to only the items you really wear on a regular basis, and your kids get some fun, free dress-up fodder to aid their imagination.
The right baking project can keep your kids busy for a whole afternoon. Think cutouts you can both bake and decorate, a make-your-own pizza project (with a contest at the end to judge whose is best), or Rice Krispie freestyle treats your kids can mold into any shapes they please.
All you need is some basic ingredients you've probably already got around the house, and you can create some neat science projects that will delight kids of ages. Some of our favorites (find instructions on Pinterest):
Make your own slime.
String some unseasoned popcorn on a piece of string or yarn to hang over the trees, bushes and railings in your backyard. Your kids won't just have fun making the feeders; they'll also enjoy watching the neighborhood critters visit them in the days following.
Your kids still need to get outside from time to time, so when the weather permits, try some fun ways to take playing in the snow up a notch. Obviously, you know the classics: Build a snowman. Create snow angels. Sled down the local hills. Build a snow cave or igloo. You can also tackle more creative snow games: create snow "spray paint" by filling spray bottles with water and food coloring. Make "snow ice cream" with evaporated milk, vanilla and sugar.
Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 32 countries, owns seven rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for revolutionaries who understand that they can afford anything -- just not everything. Visit Afford Anything to learn how to crush limits, create wealth and live life on your own terms.