Are your little ones feeling cooped up this winter? Are you at a loss on what to do to keep your sanity without breaking the pocketbook? Keep them on the move with these active indoor games.  Kids have a lot of energy and in the winter months with everyone cooped up inside it can make it drag on forever.  There are still a lot of fun activities one can do to burn off that extra energy and keep their bodies healthy and moving!

1. Make an obstacle course: Give the kids a room to “take over” and let them build their own obstacle course. Here are some ideas:

  • Place pillows on the floor a foot apart & jump over them without touching the pillow
  • Attach a string from one piece of furniture to another and limbo or crawl under it without touching the string
  • Make a tunnel or cave to crawl through by lining up some chairs & throwing a sheet across
  • Have them walk like a crab, bear crawl, or hop like a bunny
  • Have them put on a silly outfit as fast as they can
  • Lay a hula hoop on the ground and jump in and out of the hoop five times
  • Walk 10 feet with a beanbag on your head
  • End the course with a ball toss into an empty laundry basket

2. Have a Dance Party: Put on some tunes (Pandora has some great kid-friendly stations; search for “Radio for kids”) and let the kids boogie. You can even turn the dancing into a game. When you stop the music, they have to stop and hold their position.

3. Play some classics. Think: Duck, Duck, Goose, Simon Says, Hide n Seek, or Musical Chairs. You could also create an indoor hopscotch using painter’s tape to create the squares. Play checkers, connect four, or sequence for a mental challenge. I love Peaceable Kingdom games for children.

4. Host a fitness competition. You could set out a jump rope and a hula hoop, and then make a few other stations with activities like push-ups, jumping jacks or somersaults.  Set goals for each station and have the kids go through the stations one-by-one.

5. Go hallway bowling. This is a perfect game for a hallway. Use plastic cups or empty water bottles and set them up in a triangular formation. Use a medium-sized rubber ball as the bowling ball.

6. Build a fort.  Let them be creative on how to build the fort and then give them a flashlight to read a book or provide coloring books for them to decorate.

7. Declutter your home. Room by Room. Eliminate the items that do not create an immediate sense of JOY. Donate the items to a local charity to help those in need. Put away books and toys your kids do not play with and re-introduce them at a later date. You will find they are excited to read and play with them again. Have your children help you.

8. Clean out your wardrobe. How can this help kids? It helps them “let go” of stuff and teaches skills of organization.  They can help sort colors, long vs. short sleeves, and winter vs. summer clothes.  Take all of your garments on hangers and put them in backward, so that the open end of each hanger now faces you. Set a calendar reminder for six months. Then go back to your regular routine: Every time you wear a piece and put it back, make sure the hanger faces the usual way (the opening facing away from you).

Once six months are up, you’ll know exactly what you haven’t touched. Take out, donate, or sell those items on backward hangers. Chances are, if you haven’t worn it in the past six months, it’s time to let go.

9. Test your Puzzle busting skills. Visit the Escape Room or Puzzled for a fun and challenging group activity.

10. Break out your slow cooker and try new winter recipes. Get your kids involved in cooking, Chances are they will be more willing to try foods that they created. Have them gather ingredients, pour and measure food, and stir.

11. Plant an indoor garden. Get ready for spring and teach your kids where our food comes from. They will love to watch the seeds sprout and the plants grow. You will then be ready to plant your seedlings in May and get a jump start on your summer produce.

12. Get Lost in a good book.  Have your kids pick out a book and read for some quiet time.  You can do the same. Having quiet time is a great reset for the body and still keeps the brain active. Then host a Book Club. Mental health is important. Gathering with friends, laughing, and sharing ideas improves our mental activity. Have other parents bring over their children to your home.  During your book club, let the kids have a “camp-out” movie party or have their own book club. The adults are able to enjoy themselves and grown-up time while the kids are entertained elsewhere!

Physical and mental activity is very beneficial and in the dreary and cold winter months it can be hard to stay motivated to remain active.  Increased physical activity can boost your mood, increase energy, improve muscle and bone health, improve memory, reduce pain, manage a healthy weight, and improve sleep.  So what are you waiting for?  Pick on of the twelve activities above and get work on improving your physical and mental health!

~~ Dr. Melanie Dockter, DC CACCP