Bring The Outdoors In: How To Keep the Kids Busy and Active Inside

Warmer weather is coming. Elite Nannies knows how important it is to keep children active. You can feel it in the air, smell it almost. Maybe you’ve even got a lively bounce in your step when you glance at the calendar. But first, in most places across the country, there are still a few weeks left of bad weather: rain storms and even snow, perhaps,  depending on where you live.  These weather patterns hit before we get to that magical first day of spring, which this year falls on Saturday, March 20th. It’s coming, but there will still be days when the children are trapped inside because of bad weather. Or school closings due to COVID-19 surges. Or a P.A. Day for teachers that keeps the kids at home. No matter what the reason, over the coming weeks you’ll find yourself with the kids inside asking to watch TV or a video. And there is only so much of that you can bear, right? And only so much of that is good for them.

Time to get busy planning. Time to bring the wonderful outdoor world inside to them, and get them moving.

Here are some of our favorite ways to keep the children busy, active, engaged and happy. Do a few of these with them and before you know, they’ll be sleepy and ready for bedtime, after a hectic day on the go.

Here are 6 Elite Ideas:

1. Go camping in the living room.

Pitch a tent made of blankets and play “pretend fort” or camping. Let them take their naps inside it, if they like. Turn out all the lights, make the room as dark as you can and tell ghost stories. And no phones allowed! Encourage them to use their imaginations here, and take turns being the story’s narrator. One nanny we know starts the story, then asks her charges to pick up the story line and run with it. That nanny told us that the girl and boy she looked after absolutely loved this, because they weren’t just listening, they got to create characters, plots, and so on.  A great way to spend a snowy afternoon.

2. Go bowling-indoors.

Using plastic bottles for pins and squishy balls or a tennis ball for bowling balls is a great way to play this game inside safely. Move furniture out of the way so nothing impedes the “alley,” and divide the kids into teams. Keeping score isn’t necessary, but follow their lead – if they want to use actual bowling rules, go for it! And make sure you’ve got a prize for everyone, not just the winner, to avoid hurt feelings or tantrums.

3. Plan a relay race.

This is a great way to burn off energy, particularly if the house has two or three floors! But remember: little ones have to be careful racing on stairs, so insist they hold the railing while they run, or confine the race to one floor.  Draw a ribbon around the sofa and make it the winning spot, so they can hurl themselves at something soft when victory is imminent. Let them do as many “laps” as they want, and cheer them on loudly.

4. Construct and design a birdhouse.

After they’ve been running around and bowling, they may be ready to sit at a crafts table and engage their artistic skills. There are lots of plans online for birdhouses, which are not at all complicated to make – find one that is appropriate for your children’s age group, and make sure you’ve got all the supplies on hand. Like any good nanny (or parent!) you’ve no doubt got a cupboard stocked with all kinds of arts and crafts supplies, so you’re prepared for the next rainy day. A great thing about building a birdhouse right now is that it gets the kids thinking about spring. And it’s a learning opportunity, too, lending itself well to research about the birds that live in your backyard and nearby parks.

5. Play hide and seek.

Once break is over and they’re anxious to get physical again, play that old fashioned favorite game, hide and seek. Even if it’s just you and one child, this game can be a lot of fun. Count to 10, close your eyes, let them run away and hide and then take a long time to find them – by the time you do, they will be squealing with delight. There is a good reason this game has been around for centuries – children love it.

6. Stage a talent show competition.

This might be something you would usually do in the backyard on a beautiful summer’s day, but it’s perfect as an indoor activity, too. Get everyone in the house involved, as either participants or as judges. Singing, playing an instrument are both ideal talents to showcase, but what if the kids don’t do either? Not to worry! Ask them to read aloud, or do a somersault, write a quick comedy routine, dance a two-step, or whistle loudly – anything and everything they can do qualifies as talent. Naturally what they do depends on how old they are, but if they’re comfortable performing any kind of routine, let them at it!

Keeping the kids busy, active and engaged indoors isn’t difficult; it just takes a little forethought and planning. What’s most important is that they laugh, burn energy and have fun together, and that all the activities involve everyone. A child’s imagination is wholly marvellous and unbounded, and you can tap into it with just a little effort. When evening rolls around, get them to join you in the kitchen for a group meal prep session.  And dessert – why not ask them to help you bake a cake or wash and peel produce for a fruit salad? The possibilities are endless, really, and the children will love every moment of these experiences. And so will you!