You've purchased your batteries. The flashlights are in working order. You have your canned goods, radio and bottled water. School's even called out. But, now what?
Hurricane Sandy may be knocking at your door, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun indoors. Many area schools have called off for the day, so what will you do with the munchkins?
The kids are full of pent up energy. Being stuck indoors has created a tizzy, and mom and dad are both ready to pull their hair out. Have no fear; there are plenty of ideas that can keep the kids busy, even during a hurricane. Here are five things that might help get that ball rolling and inspire your own creativity.
The temperature is dropping, but instead of just turning up the thermostat, why not use the oven to help heat up the home? Kids can be a great help with baking sweet treats or even whipping up dinner. The activity not only gives you some great one-on-one time with the children, but also serves a purpose: it gets dinner on the table!
Providing food isn’t the only benefit. By baking with the kids, you can also improve their math skills. Measuring, adding up or topping off ingredients are great ways to brush up on number recognition or counting.
For older children, try doubling or halving a recipe. This makes the math a little tougher as the tots have to figure out fractions of the recipe to make it work!
Have you already lost power? Try these "no electricity" methods of cooking.
With a simple walk down the craft supplies aisle of your local box stores, you’ll instantly be inspired to dust off the art smock at home and try your hand with a few crafts of your own.
If the storm's already blowing, check the house. Look around for simple supplies, too, to keep the crafting affordable. Who doesn’t have a pile of single socks sitting around the house? Somehow the washer or the dryer (or the kids) manage to lose socks constantly at our house. And, face it; you are going to end up throwing them out in the end. Besides doubling as great dusting rags, old single socks can also quickly turn into sock puppets.
Buy a few plastic eyes or stickers to help your children create faces on the toe end of a sock. Decorate the fabric with markers, paints or decals. And, presto!
Not only is the creation of the puppet good fun, but the activity can go on by asking the children to create a short skit or play with their newfound friend. Put on a show for the entire family, with each child playing a part.
Our household seems to be obsessed with video games, so this is an easy fix for us. If you are all stuck indoors anyhow, why not make some family time of it with a few games. Video or board, there are lots of ways to enjoy playing with the kids and even finding some fun for you, too.
Some great family games include “Wii Sports” or “Wii Party” which can bring an assortment of minigames for those of all ages. “Super Mario Brothers Wii” is another great choice, since you can play up to four players at a time.
Alternatively, rev up your hand-held game systems, like DS, DSi or PSP to play each other, take turns or “system link” one or more handhelds for family fun. Remember to charge up your phones, game systems and computers to stock up on the power in case you lose electricity. Consider a ride if the power is still out and the weather clears. Many devices can be charged in your vehicle.
Already out of power? Dust off those board games or a deck of cards and teach the kids a few fun games the old fashioned way. Candyland, Chutes and Ladders or Go Fish are great for younger children, while Risk, Battleship or Monopoly can be entertaining for middle-schoolers. Play some family poker. Bet pretzels or cookies for the “pot.”
Build a Fort
No one is too old to pull the comforter off a bed, add a few sheets and pillows and make a massive indoor fort. Young children love the chance to not only make a big mess in their rooms, but also to get creative at the same time. Turn kitchen chairs backwards to form walls, while draping around blankets for a roof and walls. Pull the cushions off of the couch or stack up that laundry to reinforce the “fort.”
Even the older children can get into this activity, and don’t forget mom and dad, too. Make a game of the “construction” by delivering messages from fort to fort or have a rolled up sock battle, tossing the “bombs” to the opposing team.
Bring the kids’ toys inside the fort or play a game inside the stable shelter. Older kids can be learning in the process by teaching them some history along the way. Look up historical battles online or fort-related lessons in history to coordinate the telling of stories with the building of your fort.
If you have the room for it, pitch an actual camping tent in the living room instead. Plan a “campout” and sleep on the floor. Make some ‘smores in your microwave or plan an easy dinner like hot dogs or other campfire goodies to make a mini-staycation out of the night right in your own living room.
If you are short on power, the indoor campout can be a great way to get the family sleeping in one, safe room, too.
Hurricanes don’t necessarily mean that humans need to stop moving. Even in the bad weather, you and your children can still get the body moving. To find ideas, use television shows or workout videos to get the blood flowing. Children can easily follow along to a yoga class or aerobic videos. You don’t have to have instructional help, either, to make the day fun and active.
Easy activities like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups or lunges to get the children moving and can, of course, double as your workout for the day, too, power or not.
It’s likely they will have a good bit of energy being cooped up in the house. If you are stuck in, make the best of it. Useful chores like dusting or sweeping can also be a good use of that extra energy, and get your house in order at the same time.
If the weather allows for it, head out into the rain puddles for some outdoor fun, but please wait until it is safe. Your car may not be able to back out of the driveway, but you can still have a puddle-jumping contest or rake up the wet leaves to guard your front yard. These physical activities can be great fun, while also getting out that extra energy.