“School is closed today due to inclement weather.” It’s the call kids across the country hold out hope for in the winter—engaging in superstitious rituals from flushing ice cubes down the toilet to sleeping with their pajamas inside out in an effort to bring on a snow day. Snow days are the stuff of childhood dreams. They’re also almost certain to drive parents slightly batty. The longer it snows, the more likely kids are to start bouncing off the walls. And the more they bounce off the walls, the more our heads start to pound. When you’re feeling like you just can’t play one more board game or read one more picture book, here’s how to push through the stir crazy to the other side with your kids. From inside activities that will get their sillies out to outside fun that will make them forget they’re cold, help is on the way!
1. Dance it out.
Whether it’s snowing so hard you can’t see more than an inch or two in front of your face or the sun has set and your kids are still raring to go, cranking up the tunes is an easy way to focus all of that energy. Throw your own Dancing With the Stars–style competition in the middle of your living room or grab a hairbrush and recreate the sing-along from Stepmom.
2. Bring on the obstacles.
You’re going to have to shovel, so why not make the most of your back-breaking duties? Turn the backyard into an obstacle course with mounds of the white stuff piled beneath the swing set for jumping, paths for jogging, and more surprises to keep them moving. Really need a break from the constant “Mooooooooooooom” whining? Add on the extra challenge of a scavenger hunt to keep them busy longer. Can they spot a backyard blue jay or some pawprints left behind by a neighborhood cat?
3. Blow bubbles.
If you’ve got some bubble solution (or just water and dish detergent) left over from the summer, have some fun with science. Fill a shallow bowl with solution, take it outside, and let the kids blow air into the liquid with a straw. Voilà: frozen bubbles! You can also grab a bubble wand and let them send their bubbles flying the old fashioned way. If it’s cold enough, they’ll freeze mid-air and shatter on the ground.
4. Fill the tub.
With snow that is! Playing with snow inside is a fun treat, but it can get messy fast. Filling the tub with the white stuff means all that water has a place to go when it melts. You can let the kids climb in and stamp around (and then dry their cold tootsies off quickly), set up toys so they can build indoor snow villages, or just let them dig in and feel the sensations with their fingers.
5. Make ice cream.
There is one night a year when it’s mandatory that children have ice cream for dinner: the night you make snow ice cream. Don’t worry; you don’t need an ice cream maker or any fancy ingredients for this. All you need is some sugar, milk, salt, vanilla, (clean) snow, and some seriously excited kids. Oh, right, and a recipe from Gimme Some Oven for the one dessert your kids are never going to forget. They may even take a break from hitting each other with the couch cushions long enough to hug you for this one.
6. Bring the snowmen inside.
Looking for something a little less sugary? Bring on the snowmen! String cheese, tomatoes, and a little fresh basil make for tasty caprese snowman snacks with jaunty scarves (that can be picked off and handed to mom) in this super simple recipe from Arts & Crackers. Or you can pop some popcorn and draw snowman faces on plastic cups to create friendly snacks for a movie marathon.
7. Tape it up.
If you have a roll of painter’s or masking tape, you’ve got the makings of a game that can occupy the kids for hours (okay, at least 30 to 45 minutes). Rip off strips of tape and create shapes on the floor to serve as “bases” during a game of Simon Says. The kids will wear themselves out crab walking from the diamond shape to the triangle and moonwalking from one square to another.
8. Bowl them over.
Snowball fights are cold and can send the whole family to the ER. Who needs snowballs when you’ve got balled-up socks? And who needs to throw them at each other when you can do a little snowball bowling? Make a plastic cup tower and let the kids “bowl” with their soft, dry snowballs. The first one to knock down all the cups gets the first bowl of snow ice cream! The best part of helping your kids fight their way through the “I’m bored”s on a snow day? A little extra snuggle time after they tire out!