The wonderful families who read my blogs are often in varying relationships to media and screens in their lives…some have no TV, but their computers are certainly on a lot, some work from home where this is a necessity, some do allow their children media access or computer access and monitor it carefully.
I have written many back posts about limiting our own time on the computer or with the TV; it really can be such an obstacle towards “doing”. If you are on the computer, you may not be cooking, making the crafts you want for your seasonal table, having friends over, doing artistic activities, making music, etc.
I also find the more harried and rushed and stressed families are, the more they are likely to use computer or media as their “downtime” relaxation. And some mothers of small children who need attention every moment still do wonder how they will garner a moment to themselves without a little electronic help, especially in a month that is often bitterly cold around much of the United States.
I just want to put out a gentle reminder that there are many things children can do besides something involving a screen. Here are a few of my favorites for you to try out in your own homes this week:
First of all, two children are easier than one! So seek out some friends within your community!
Second of all, as the saying goes, there is no bad weather, just bad clothes..so make sure you have the right clothes for the weather and go and enjoy being outside. The older the children become, they also can enjoy more athletic pursuits in the snow and cold.
Have the basic, open ended elements of play in your home: silks, scraps of fabric, yarn, towels and blankets for fort-making, old scarves, cardboard boxes and brooms that can be used for playing house or riding a horse!
For children a bit older whom you can trust around art supplies, try an art corner or station of wonderful art supplies, paper, fabric, paints, sandpaper, feathers, and other various supplies for artistic fun!
For toddlers, how about asking for their help with cooking or cleaning? How about a bath when all else fails? I gave our three year old a morning bath the other day and we did some homeschool in the bathroom whilst he happily splashed about in the master tub.
For three to six year olds: salt dough is a favorite in our house as well – I try to make up fresh batches that have interesting essential oils or textures in them. Bubbles are also a hit anytime of the year!
Natural blocks are always fun for building – you can make your own and sanding can be another project! Singing, dancing and making music also comes naturally to this age group.
For those ages six to twelve, I think about making tents or forts, telling jokes, playing games and cards, making collages, creating art, cooking, building, reading, and making models of airplanes or cars.
Cooking is another one of those projects that never gets old! Cookies, bread, comforting soups and stews, even things in the dehydrator for my families who eat a higher percentage of raw foods. Cooking definitely gets my vote for fun!
I think it boils down to having fun as a family during this cold weather, and doing what we can to boost each other’s joy. I wrote a post sometime back about Joy In January, perhaps it could another source of inspiration: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/01/joy-for-january/
Thanks for such a timely post, Carrie! I am very anti TV and while we do have one, it is never on. However I had a baby 8 days ago and in a moment of weakness / desperation, my 2.5yo is now happily sat in front of the laptop watching cartoons. You’ve helped strengthen my resolve to find other solutions. Do you have any suggestions/ bits of advice especially for life with a newborn and a toddler? We don’t have family nearby… Sending much love and thanks for your wise words .
Sometimes in the Kindergarten we cut (if you have a carpenter in the house) blocks of wood and then the children use sandpaper to sand the blocks and beeswax to polish the blocks. You can also use sandpaper on sticks from outside and polish them and make little fishing poles for felt fish on a silk (magnet on the end of the fishing line and a washer sewn into the mouth of the fish). Real work is the handwork of the kindergarten, so definitely bread baking, cleaning, polishing wooden toys with beeswax, polishing block crayons with a soft rag and olive oil, little seasonal crafts such as in the book Earthways by Petrash, helping to prepare a snack using manual tools such as an apple peeler/corer or a grain grinder, running a carpet sweeper over the rugs……
Aw mamalily! Congratulations on your new little wee one! Who is around to help if you have no family? Do you have a community of friends at all? I think this is such a wonderful time for people who love your daughter to spend time playing with her whilst you rest! I have many posts about the forty days after birth, and transitioning the only child to the older sibling. Please be easy on yourself, many cultures have those forty days where they are waited on and their other children cared for. Community is so helpful that way.
Salt dough, books, building little forts, threading wooden beads on pipe cleaners, setting up dolly tea parties and bear tea parties, dressing up in silks, setting up scenes with little animals, blocks, any tiny not much effort seasonal art (setting out a pie plate full of water and little treats for the birds to magically freeze over night)…
Hi Carrie! Can you tell me what can be done with sanding paper?? Any other ideas along those lines? My three year old boy is lo going to do real work. I can also always use ideas for work for my 5 year old daughter to do beyond crayons. She’s not really into beeswax or finger knitting just yet, but she does love to use her hands. They keep eachother pretty busy while I care for our youngest one, but I could always use more fun and enriching things to offer up when they run out if ideas on their own.
Thank you for your post Carrie! About to check out Joyful in January!
I know my ideas might not be all Waldorf-ish. We have hodge-podged our way to our own family style, with the kids now attending Waldorf school, which helps us keep rhythm and me keep my sanity. But, here are some of the things my kids enjoy doing, many are in the Minnesota winter.
My 6.5 yo just had a great time learning to needle felt, using cookie cutters as a guide which maybe helped with not getting poked. With a pile of snow that has sat for a day or two, they can use metal shovels to carve out an igloo. Ice skating. Downhill skiing (it’s very gross motor). Filling things with water and freezing them outdoors. Sorting recycling. Sledding. Erector set. Dolls with clothes to change into. Sewing/crafting beds and blankets for their stuffed animals. Finger knitting–have them make their chains and tell them you’re making a scarf out of them; I intend to use a knit fabric and stitch their yarn chains in spiral patters all over the cloth. Water the plants. Build forts, “Hedgie houses” or rocket ships out of chairs and blankets. Warm baths. Writing tiny letters (tiny sheets of paper). Ed Emberley’s drawing books (maybe this helps with handwriting skills?). Puzzles. My 8.5 yo loves Sudoku. Baking. Make playdough. Play cooking with some flour and water or tea set. Mud pies in the yard. They’ve used a LOT of various kinds of tape. Learning to cut various things out of paper (hearts, snowflakes, etc.) Weaving on Harrisville Designs loop loom. They like to sew things that they can stuff. Stringing beads. Building marble runs. Dress up. The availability of paper, crayons, etc. has spurred umpteen paper crafts. Making paper chains. Folding colorful paper stars.
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