Category: Family Fun

11 Fun Things to do Inside with your Toddler when it’s Cold Out

Spring is just around the corner and it seems like we are hanging on to a couple more cold and rainy days as it approaches. We just can’t wait to get outside and yet, we have frequently been forced indoors. So what can you do when it looks nice and sunny out but it is still freezing? Time to find some fun things to do inside.

just-a-day-where-my-toddler-is-playing-with-kitchen-measuring-tools

The following is a list of super easy, super simple things that can make a rainy, cold or windy day so much fun!

10 Fun Things to do Inside

1. Play with Bubbles

My daughter absolutely LOVES bubbles! In fact, I try not to let her watch any shows with anything resembling bubbles because then she wants to play with bubbles. I blow the bubbles for her and she tries to pop them. She thinks it’s funny when they land on Grayson’s head. Sometimes, she will blow the bubbles too. We have hardwood and carpet and the bubbles don’t really make any mess at all. Maybe just wipe it up off the hardwood.

playing with balloons is another one on the list of Fun things to do inside
Balloons can be just as fun as bubbles! Just make sure you grab up the remains real fast if they pop.

2. Coloring

fun things to do inside involves coloringColoring books, scrap paper, newspaper, phone books, books you don’t care about, note books, walls… okay, I haven’t done walls on purpose. Let your toddler explore their creativity.

I even let my toddler use markers! *gasp* Because seriously, the fact that the color is instantly on the page and all you have to do is touch the tip to the canvas is enough to make anyone want to color. Do you think there is adult coloring because they are using crayons? No. Maybe colored pencils, but even that is a stretch. There is something so satisfying about watching the ink bleed onto the paper, or maybe I am just an office supply geek. We LOVE coloring.

3. Building a Tower

You don’t have to have fancy blocks if you want fun things to do inside. All you have to have, is anything! I have been amazed at the kinds of things my daughter will stack on top of each other and shout, “Tao!” Grab your old books, your shoes, your DVD cases, your old CDs (because you’re probably using your phone to listen to music now) and see how tall you can get it. This will be SO exciting for your toddler!

4. Talking Toys

Maybe your toddlers are like mine and they like to get a couple of toys, could be ANYTHING and give one to you and pretend that they are talking. My toy is almost always the Mama toy. And the conversation goes something like this:

playing with potato heads as a part of fun things to do insideSiena – Hi

Me – Hi

Siena – Mama (points to my toy)

Me – Oh is this the Mama Potato Head?

(she nods)

(The toys kiss)

Siena – Hug?

(The toys hug)

Siena – Hug!

Then the toys might drive off or we will have another conversation much like the one we just had. If you have the patience for this game, it will keep your child entertained for as long as you can endure it.

5. Make a Fun Treat

Siena likes to do anything that I am doing. That includes emptying the dishwasher, taking groceries in and laundry (except she likes to throw the socks and clothes all over the living room instead of fold-we’re working on that one).

So, I have learned that she LOVES to help mix things. I also let her dump in cups of flour or sugar and have her hold the egg while I crack it. She thinks the egg one is especially funny. Then, the best part is you get to eat your yummy treat with your baby. I’ve made Potato Wedges with Siena and she loves dipping them in Ketchup.

6. Build a Fort

This is on my list of fun things to do inside because I haven’t had the chance to do it yet! We don’t have couch cushions that pull out, but I have thought many times that we need to do this. Maybe one morning, when Grayson is sleeping we will get some blankets, kitchen chairs and pillows and make a fort to read some books in. Siena loves to read books and she would probably think I was the coolest mom ever!

7. Playdate

Having friends over does require someone to leave the house, but if you plan it right, that someone doesn’t have to be you. The best part about this one is you get to have a real conversation with a real adult! And then the kids can keep each other entertained. Now, there is the added pressure of having to play referee. But as long as both parents have similar parenting views, there’s nothing to worry about there.

playdate inside for fun things to do inside
These two are the cutest!

8. Dance Party

We live in an age where many of us can open our laptop, turn on our phone or go to the right app on our TV to get some fun music streaming into our living room. We use the TV because that has the best speakers and we get our Pandora on and rock out. Dancing is one of our favorite things.

Sometimes, I will turn on YouTube and try and do a work out dance thing, like Zumba, but usually Siena’s idea of a fun dance party involves me holding her hand while she spins or me holding her while I dance. So, work out dance doesn’t usually happen.

9. Bath time!

Think that baths are a pain? Me too, most of the time. But it is at the top of my toddler’s Fun Things to do Inside List. She loves splashing in the tub and playing with her toys. I just have to stay close to the bathroom to keep an eye on her. But, if you need to get the bathroom clean, what a great opportunity!

10. Snuggle Sesh!

snuggling with siena to have fun things to do inside
Snapchat Snuggles with a movie! Even better!

I don’t care who judges me for this one. It is, hands down, my favorite thing on the Fun Things to do Inside List.

My daughter LOVES to watch shows. She asks to watch television multiple times a day. We do watch TV. And, in my opinion, if you are selective about what your child watches, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. (Rant saved for another post.)

So, if my daughter wants to watch a show and I want nothing more than to snuggle with her, I bribe her. Yep! Show for Snuggles. We get to watch a show, if she will snuggle with me on the couch. She is always happy to oblige and so am I! If

I am exhausted in the morning, Snuggle Sesh! I know she’s not getting into things because I’m hugging her and I get a little nap. It is SERIOUSLY the best thing in the world.

11. Make a Home Movie!

Or you can be a total nerd like me and make a movie with your kids. As soon as I busted out the camera and told Siena to do something, she got super excited! And she LOVES watching it.

It was also a great fun way to save some of the memories of us just hanging out around the house, which is 90% of our lives.

If you need an idea, you can check out mine!

Beauty & the Beast – Mom Parody

Beauty and the Beast cover to get you excited
Here’s a the opening shot to get you excited!

Beauty and the Beast – Mom Parody

What do you get when you have a Stay at Home Mom who did musicals in high school, studied film in college and has two adorable children? Beauty and the Beast – Mom Parody, or in other words, Mama & the Beasts.

Beauty and the Beast cover to get you excited
Here’s a the opening shot to get you excited!

Nostalgia for Beauty and the Beast

I can’t help it. Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorite Disney Princess movies. Yep, I was one of those girls. I loved Disney Princesses and always watched the movies. My kids are going to grow up watching the Disney Movies and I apparently still haven’t grown up because I’m still trying to BE a Disney Princess.

But, I think that’s kind of the point. Everyone can be a Disney Princess, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what your situation is. We can always be a Princess.

Future Embarrassment

One day, my kids will probably be mortified that their mom has posted something like this for the public world to view, and will deny that they are related to me. But for now, they both LOVE watching it because they are in it too. I think Siena has watched it over and over because she likes to watch our family more than all of her favorite shows.

trying to work on beauty and the beast when both my kids just want to be held.
Sometimes, they just want to be held and I just need to finish up the project. Good thing they like to watch it too!

So, if nothing else, I’m glad I did it just so we have a way to remember all of these seemingly insignificant moments that only matter to us. I get to capture how sweet they are with each other and the little noises they make. There is no way to capture the vast amount of spit up our son produces, but I think this comes close. And for now, my kids think I’m cool and think it’s funny when I rock out. So, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth right now.

Thanks for watching!

You can also follow the link to Beauty and the Beast – Mom Parody.

 

Most Important To Do on your List Every Day

Cheesy Post Alert!!

Don’t care. Sometimes you need a little cheese. Today, it’s all about the cheese… and cute pics of my babies.

Most of my days end up just like today. I have a long list of things I should be getting done, but I don’t really get many of them done. But that’s okay. I think I did the most important to do on my list. I didn’t finish folding the laundry, or write this blog until super late. Dinner happened, but it was just Macaroni and Cheese, nothing special.

It seemed like a lot of things just got left undone. Some days I get even less than that done. But I always try and accomplish my most important to do. I try to remember to keep it at the top of my list. Because if I only do my most important to do every day, then my day is successful. If I accomplish it, I know that I am still One Helluva Homemaker.

In the House

Especially during the winter, most of the time we just hang out at home. Our home is our children’s world. They get to be in the place where they are most comfortable and can act like themselves the most. At home, it’s super easy to do your most important to do. And being at home all day, I love watching my babies just be. They are 100% themselves and they are so full of love!

toddler watching television in the middle of laundry
Sometimes, the laundry doesn’t get put away for a long time, so it becomes a nest for my toddler to watch TV in.
showing my toddler my most important to do
Her favorite spot to hang out while I try to whip together 3 meals a day.

My little boy

my daughter sporting some tude
I don’t know how I got a photo with so much attitude, but I absolutely love it!
most important to do in action from my son
This is what he looks like right before he goes to sleep. My heart!
Siena helping her brother
The little mommy helping her brother.
both my kids in the crib
Siena always loves to get in the crib with Grayson and play with him. He loves it too. I love watching them play together.

I love going out and letting them explore too. But, sometimes it is great to just be homebodies and enjoy being around each other.

Most Important To Do

That brings me to the most important to do. You could get absolutely nothing done ALL DAY LONG in terms of getting stuff done around the house, cleaning, shopping, whatever and still have a productive day as long as you do the most important thing on your list. Love your family. Just show your babies you love them. Show your spouse you love them. That’s all you got to do, and your day just became one of the best days ever. Literally, it is the BEST thing you can do every single day. That is what makes you One Helluva Homemaker.

most important to do shirt
Customize your shirt with different colors or choose from so many of the other products!

Remember it!

So, because I wanted you to have a way to remind yourself that you are amazing just because you loved your family today, I designed some shirts, water bottles and phone cases! I love how they turned out.

Check them out! 

 

One Way to Spend Time with Your Toddler & Still Get Things Done Around the House

I will be explaining to you how to spend time with your toddler, but first a little preface to what the events typically look like leading up to it. It's hard to know how to keep a toddler engaged. It's even more taxing trying to figure out how to spend time with your toddler when their interest level peaks after just a couple of minutes and all you want to be doing is something else.

The Go-To Entertainer

When we are bored in the winter, it is a constant battle of 'how much television am I going to let my kids watch today?' I go back and forth with myself. I have all this stuff I need to get done. We're trying to save money, so I need to cook more meals so we don't go out to eat. The whole house is a disaster and I have students coming over for piano lessons. The laundry has literally not been done in weeks. The clean clothes are wrinkling in piles in and around the laundry baskets that have been tucked at the foot of our bed. Showering is a must... And it's too cold to go outside! If I am going to get stuff done, I've got to find a way to keep my kid engaged.

The easiest solution is, of course, television. If my daughter has her eyes locked on the TV, she won't chuck a doll at Grayson's head. And let's be honest, we watch TV at our house all the time. Every day. I would be lying if I said that I did not just let Netflix of Amazon prime run through episodes like a perpetually energetic hamster on a wheel. It's fine if you judge me.

Most of the time, at some point during the day, I decide, okay, we've watched too much TV. Jennifer, it's time to spend time with your toddler and baby... or at least de-zombify your children.

spend-time-with-your-toddler-doing-something-new-and-exciting

The Meltdown.

Tantrum. The end of the world. Life is over as we know it because Wa-Wa (Sofia the First) and Grr (Daniel Tiger) are no longer welcome in our home. After the initial earwax curdling screaming, the negotiations begin. "Mama, wa-wa?"

"No. Mommy said no."

"Grr?" she asks.

"No, sorry."

"Choo choo? (nursery rhymes set to music)" Now she's getting more desperate.

"Siena, no more show."

Another crying session. "Show!"

I finish up whatever task I was working on while she tries to figure out what to do with herself. Then, the inevitable happens. If she can't be watching her show, then mama can't be doing whatever she wants to be doing. Mama is now my daughter's new favorite toy.

The Point of Decision – Mommy Leash vs. Ignoring Your Kids

Siena has now learned that in order to get what she want, she needs to communicate it. This is great, most of the time... One of the not so great aspects is what I call 'the Mommy Leash". The Mommy Leash is when your child grabs your hand in an attempt to do whatever it is that they want you to do. This is aggravating for Mommy and Toddler.

I now have to decide if I'm going to engage with 'the Mommy Leash' or if I am going to pull my hand away from her and say something like, "Mama's busy right now."

I hate both options. On the one hand, I don't really like being forced to do something, even if it is by my toddler. I have watched her try and do this to other toddlers too and they don't like it either. So, I should at least resist for their benefit so she learns that that is not an effective way to get what she wants. But if I don't come, she will continue to pull and pull until we go back to the last phase and start all over again at tantrum.

The second option of brushing her off, makes me feel like I am ignoring my child or not being attentive enough. Should I be playing with her as frequently as she wants me to? Does it make me a bad mom if I don't? I don't think so.

So, I'm stuck.

spend-time-with-your-toddler-doing-what-she-wants-to-do-sometimes

Secret Option #3

So, while you are caught in the dilemma of Mommy Leash or Ignoring Kids, instead I like to try and remember the alternate dilemma. This dilemma is Mommy Leash vs Mommy Led. I remove my hand from my daughter's sticky grip and ask her if she would like to do something with me. This can be anything. It could be helping me unload the dishwasher, pick up toys, color in her coloring book, play with bubbles, build a block, read a book, sweep up the crumbs, help me vacuum, give her brother a kiss or cook a meal. LITERALLY ANYTHING.

If your toddler is trying the Mommy Leash on you, they probably are trying to communicate that they just want to do what you are doing. They want to be with Mama. Sometimes, though, they just want mama to entertain them. The distinction is easy to determine for my daughter. I usually know if she actually wants to spend time with me by asking, "Do you want to cuddle with me?"

If she says yes, I know she really wants her mama.

"No," is usually the response I get, which means, she just wants someone to play with and she wants them to do her idea. Now I can choose whether I want to do what she wants me to do or not.

Spend Time with Your Toddler – Siena Style

If I agree to her idea, I know what I am in for. My daughter's favorite thing to do, is pretend to be the mommy. Frequently, she will announce, "Night-night!" Then she will take my hand and try to force me to bed. (Which is funny, because that is never how we get her into bed.) She pulls and pulls and if I acquiesce, she will 'read' me a book, put me in her bed, give me her baby and blankie, turn on the 'shishis' (the projector fish night light), shut the door and leave me in her room.

If I try to get out of bed, she puts me back in bed and closes the door. Typically not the best way to spend time with your toddler when you are not even in the same room.

Regardless, sometimes I play her games with her, especially if I want to just lazily play on my phone in her bed after she closes the door. But a lot of times, I don't want to be put to bed multiple times throughout the day.

It is okay to say no and still spend time with your toddler. It is also okay to say "no, thank you. I really need to finish this right now". Or "No thank you. I don't want to do that."

I am no expert, because my kids are still young, but I think being honest with them will pay off later.

The Most Common Responses

I am learning more and more that my daughter is very opinionated about what she does and does not want to do. But, she is also very open to new ideas. Sometimes I will suggest a long list of things and she will say, "no... no... no... no..." and I am flabbergasted when she says no to the one thing I thought she would certainly say yes to.

But more often than not, when I suggest something she will get excited about a new idea or a new experience and say "okay!" It could be work, but she has seen me do it and so she wants to give it a try.

My toddler will try anything, except different foods sometimes. But if she has seen mama do it, she wants in! And if she has seen dada do it, even better!

I have learned that just by asking your toddler if wants he to do what you are doing, you get to spend time with your toddler AND get stuff done.

My daughter really likes to help. And even if it takes me twice as long, it's a lot more fun... or memorable... doing it with her.

spend-time-with-your-toddler-while-you-are-cooking

The Result

The best thing when you spend time with your toddler this way, is that even though they may only stay engaged for a couple of minutes, they learn that mama is doing something important. If I let my daughter help me with chores, she may lose interest, or I may have to ask her to let mommy finish. But even when she disengages a couple of minutes later, she doesn't try to take me with her. Now she understands that I need to finish what I am doing before I can hang out with her.

It's almost like she has been let in on the secret. Now she is a part of the task and understands its significance. Spend time with your toddler, even just for a couple of minutes or explain to them why you can't, because they're smart. They know your sincere intentions.

Spend Time with Your Toddler and Love it!

Taking a little bit of time to change the situation from Mommy Leash to Mommy Led will help you relax, have open communication with your toddler and will help you to spend time with your toddler.

We still watch a lot of TV. It's hard to find stuff to do in the winter, but I treasure the times when I am brave enough to push the big red power button on my remote and really BE with my kids.

I love spending time with Siena. She is getting to the age where she does or says things that catch me by surprise and have me laughing more every day. She knows how to help me unload the dishwasher, she will sit on the stools by the counter and snack while I cook, she tries to entice me away to one of her fun games on a daily basis and on the rare occasion, she will let me snuggle with her if I put on her show. My baby girl is my buddy and I love it!

For fun indoor ideas that require more preparation than I am usually willing to do, check out this Stay at Home Mom's sweet blog!

Toddler Activities

Family Fun at the Farm & Mom Fail – Simple Outings are Easier than Complicated Ones

Why I decided on Family Fun at the Farm

Family fun at the farm wasn't something super planned, we just wanted to go and do something after a long winter. It finally warmed up enough to go and spend the day outside. Even though both of the kids had a bit of a cold, the three month long sick stay at our personal Residence Inn was getting tiresome. But what should we do?

One of the best things I have learned is it is best to just go somewhere. Get out of the house. Go do something. Even if you don't have anything planned, something is bound to happen and because when you do something out of the norm, it creates an experience.

Putting off the Milk

We left right after Grayson woke up from his nap. He had had a bottle a couple of hours ago, so I thought he would be fine until we got to the farm.

We drove up there and met my friend and my daughter’s future husband (if all goes according to plan…) to walk around the farm. Because family fun at the farm can be even MORE fun with someone else having family fun at the farm. Plus, they can also help with crowd control, because when one kid runs off, you have another adult keeping an eye on them. Thank goodness for great friends!

toddler girl running across the field after her boyfriend starting out the family fun at the farm
cold toddler for family fun at the farm

Mama’s Mistake

So, in the middle of February, this mama foolishly didn’t bring jackets because it was ‘so warm’. It was NOT so warm. It was tolerable by our house but when we arrived to the open plains of the farmlands, it was now a little chilly.

I didn’t bring many blankets (just one for the shade and my daughter’s blankie), didn’t bring jackets and we were all wearing short sleeve shirts. Smart.

Cows

First we visited the cows. It wasn’t long before Siena was yelling, “cow! Cow!”

“It is a cow!”

“Mooo! Moooo!”

This conversation happened about 4 times in a row. And as a sidenote, last summer we went to the farm and every time we approached an animal bigger than a chicken she started sobbing and trying to climb around me to hide from the cows, sheep, goats or horses.

When we were standing by the cows, Grayson was suddenly not happy anymore. I realized he still hadn’t eaten, so I shook up a bottle and fed it to him. He guzzled it down, but slowly. As he was eating, we wandered to the sheep, with me awkwardly holding the bottle up for him to eat.

toddler looking through bars at a cow during family fun at the farm
toddler girl and her cows to start off the adventure of family fun at the farm
toddler girl looking through bars at a farm at sheep
toddler looking at a sheep through bars in a farm as part of the family fun at the farm

Sheep

We made it to the sheep and Siena insisted on screaming, “Baaaa” at all of them and then was confused when the sheep ran away from her.

Then, Grayson started fidgeting. He spit up all over himself and I tried to catch it with my spit-up rag. He probably had more coming, so I quickly got him out of his car seat and tried to burp him. Of course, this was the exact moment that the wind picked up and took his breath away. He screamed; I felt terrible.

I wrapped him in the blanket that I had brought, but that was not enough for him. It was still too much for his face that was exposed to the elements.

No more burps, no more spit up, just more sad baby. I put him back in his car seat and buckled him in, hoping the pacifier would do its job. It did not. I wrapped him in Siena’s blankie, without her seeing and covered his car seat with the bigger blanket. The sun was blinding and had to shade his eyes.

From then on I was consigned to constantly moving the stroller, or he would cry out in protest.

infant boy unhappy with bubbles out of mouth while his sister is having some family fun at the farm

Bunnies! & Chickens

Siena loved looking at the chickens and bunnies, especially the bunnies. She loves bunnies. She jumped up and down when she saw the bunnies and shouted, “bunny! Bunny! Bunny!” I rocked Grayson back and forth while trying to get the occasional picture of Siena.

toddler looking at chickens during family fun at the farm
toddler looking through chicken coup fence during family fun at the farm

Playground

Then she went to the playground and ran around with her “boyfriend”. I paced around the perimeter trying to sedate my angry child. This was especially difficult when Siena wanted to slide down the big slide and the only way to get her up there was ‘spot’ her as she climbed up the bars to get to it.

toddler girl sitting on wooden horse in playground after having some family fun at the farm
toddler girl on playground during family fun at the farm
toddler girl on spiderweb at playground during family fun at the farm
mom & toddler selfie, proof of family fun at the farm
toddler girl on playground spiderweb during family fun at the farm
toddler girl going down the slide after having some family fun at the farm

Picnic

After they were all done playing, Grayson had fallen asleep and we sat at the picnic tables to eat lunch.

After a couple of bites of Siena’s sandwich, the wind picked up again and my little toddler sat quivering on the bench.

“Do you want to eat in the car?” I asked her.

“Okay.”

toddler girl enjoying sandwich at picnic table after having family fun at the farm with all of the animals

Going Home

And that was the end of the farm trip. Just ninety minutes later, we were heading home.

I guess the family fun at the farm was still family fun. It didn’t matter that I had forgotten coats. We still had fun, my babies are both still alive and well and I got some pictures to remember our eventful trip. All in all, not bad. Mom fails don’t matter as much when you’re just trying to be One Helluva Homemaker.