As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, finding indoor activities for kids can be tough. Many kids might feel disappointed that the normal family traditions that happen this month are cancelled due to COVID-19 changes. As working parents ourselves, we thought we’d share a roundup of activities that will get your little ones in the spirit of the season while not stressing out working parents.
We also know that working parents are stressed, and this time of year is busy! So we’ll start with an insider tip:
Book any of Flexable’s hosts one-on-one with our Always There Childcare option and ask them at the start of the call to work on any of the activities below with your child! Your child gets to do a fun seasonal activity with a warm, friendly host and you’ll get a little time back.
Seasonal Indoor Activities for Kids
1. Easy Advent Calendars
Advent Calendars can be overwhelming. Any parent on social media today can see influencer after influencer putting together elaborate, homemade calendars filled with overwhelming and sometimes intensive holiday activities. If you need permission, here it is: if you don’t want to make a gingerbread house with your kids — you don’t have to!
The fun thing about planning a calendar for the month is that it can be as simple as that: one easy, special thing per day. Kiddos love checking the advent calendar each morning, and then it can set the tone for a fun, meaningful day, with extra activities while being stuck indoors.
- Book Advent Calendars: Start with your bookshelf! One of my favorite ways to plan an advent is to pull winter and holiday themed books off our very own shelves, wrap them up, and assign them a special day! No need to purchase anything new, and children love the tradition of reading their favorite holiday book they haven’t seen all year.
- Classic Family Traditions: Next, add the classics you know you’ll do every year to your calendar, like decorating a tree, drinking hot chocolate while watching a favorite movie, or writing letters to Santa. Our family loves to make decorations from things found on winter walks — an acorn, piece of tree bark, and a few sticks can be a magical ornament with a little child’s creativity! Keep these simple, and always child-led. The more an activity will involve you as the parent to be hands on (I’m looking at you gingerbread house) the more potential stress and time you might have to give. Decorating indoors with popcorn garlands, paper snowflakes or dehydrated oranges can be fun, indoor activities for kids that keep hands and minds busy for hours!
- Conversations Starters and Themes: Finally, locate the days you don’t have anything planned and add conversation starters or theme days. Conversations starters can be about concepts like gratitude and love or perhaps specific questions like their favorite holiday memory or gift. For example, add a card that asks your child to think about ways they can give this season, and then ask them to practice it throughout the day! Combine with a piece of chocolate or a big, round orange, and it’ll make for a special, simple activity for that day.
And remember, you can change the way your family builds their calendar to suit your needs. Perhaps you do an activity every other day, the week leading up to your favorite holiday, or maybe you ask the kids themselves to design the calendar! Whatever you choose, it’s for you and your family and your kiddos will think it’s magical no matter what.
Tip: Keep a separate list for yourself so you know what you planned for each day. Not feeling like making Hot Chocolate today? Swap with a favorite movie! First snow of the year? Move reading a book like Ezra Jack Keats The Snowy Day, up a few days. Let it be easy.
2. Eat Dinner by Candlelight
Trust us. This one seems simple, but kids get SO excited and it can really shift any mood.
Evenings can be tough for parents and kiddos alike. After a long day of work and being cooped up inside, dinner can sometimes feel like something a family has to get through, not enjoy.
The beautiful thing about adding the simple element of candlelight to a dinner is that it completely changes any mood! Turn down the lights, light a candle (or help older kiddos do it themselves) and watch as voices lower and their eye aglow. For extra points, add your favorite seasonal music in the background, and use the time to talk about your advent activity from the day.
Even if you’re like us and eating grilled cheese again, candlelight is a great way to make it feel special. And what kid doesn’t love blowing out the candles at the end of the meal!
Tip: Use premade playlists on Spotify to further build the mood! There are great kids holiday playlists to make things fun and cheery, or go with instrumental seasonal tunes in the background to keep things relaxed.
3. Use Technology to Foster Engagement
Sometimes technology feels less like a choice and more like something we are all just on. Looking at technology as a tool and showing our children we can use it to enhance our lives is a beautiful notion and a great skill to have. Technology might be one of the easiest indoor activities for kids, but here how to add more meaning:
- Facetime a family member: I know you’ve probably already been doing this for months, but during this season, plan questions you’d like to ask loved ones in advance of a planned call! Asking grandparents how they met, talking to aunts and uncles their favorite winter memories, and getting all the cousins together on zoom to talk about the season can be a great way to add extra meaning to your time spent on zoom. You can even plan a different family member to read a story from the book advent!
- Timer family portraits: Perhaps pre-pandemic your family had a regular photo studio session to get annual holiday photos? This year, you have an excuse to plan something fun and low key! Let kiddos dress in whatever pajamas, fancy clothes or even maybe a mix of the two. Then set up a camera, phone or computer for the shots. Now, here’s where the magic comes in: if they’re old enough, teach your little how to set up the timer! They’ll have so much fun setting up the shot, clicking the button and running in place, and the shots are always relaxed and silly. You might be surprised by the holiday card-worthy shots you get. Kids think cameras are amazing, but rarely get to be the ones behind the shutter!
- Have someone help your child write a card or letter for a loved one: It is hard to be away from family and friends during this time of year. Writing a letter is a great way for them to express their ideas and feelings, and it only requires at minimum a piece of paper and a writing or drawing utensil. Here’s where the technology comes in: book one of Flexable’s one-on-one hosts through our Always There Childcare and ask them to help your little one write or draw mail to send to a loved one. They can pen a letter to Santa or draw a beautiful card for their grandparents, while you get a little time back to check things off your list!
Tip: Plan a few minutes each day to talk about the time your child spent on technology. After a zoom session or a Flexable session, ask your child what they loved most. Rounding out a technology-based activity with time together can be a great way to build thoughtful habits and make the magic last even longer
The holiday season just feels different this year. It’s been a long, hard nine months, and it’s okay if your families traditions change this year! Having a thoughtful, yet stress-free list of indoor activities for kids during the holiday season can make everyone feel the familiar warmth of holiday cheer. Happy Holidays — from the Flexable team of working parents to you!