20 Things to Do with Young Kids When You’re Stuck Inside


blocks-503109_1920Moooooommmm, I’m bored!

In the middle of winter, this phrase can make any mom break out in a sweat.

I admit it, I’m new to the whole parenting in the winter thing. You see, we just moved here from Florida, and yes, everyone asks me “why would you move to Ohio from Florida?”

We really love it here, and it was all around an awesome move for us. But to say I don’t miss Florida now that it’s cold, gray and miserable outside would be a little bit of a lie.

That said, being a mom to two small boys who are cooped up inside has forced me to get creative with activities. Sometimes it’s not possible to get in the car and go to a play cafe (although, I love all the great indoor play areas here in Columbus!)

If you are stuck inside and can’t find something to keep your toddler or preschooler occupied besides Paw Patrol, here are a few ideas that don’t require a lot of money or creativity.

Play grocery store: Find a few items around the house (spoons, book, socks, apples) and set up a store in your living room. Ask your toddler to ring up your purchases and switch roles.

Color sort. Pick one of their toys or food and play with it in a different way by sorting by colors. Legos, cereal, craft supplies and even books work well for this activity.

Play ball. Set up little goals in your living room or playroom and take turns being the goalie. If your child is little, roll the soft ball into the goal or gently kick it if they are preschool age.

Hide and seek. This is a classic that can easily be forgotten. Get the whole family involved and watch them laugh when you peek out behind the couch.

Tower building championships. With Legos or blocks, have a tower building challenge. Who can make their tower the tallest before it falls over?

Bake muffins or cookies. Depending on the age of your child, invite them to help measure ingredients or mix the dough. Then, enjoy your delicious treat!

Family chores. Yes, it’s on the list as something to do, but amazingly, kids love sweeping and the vacuum cleaner. Ask them to help with age-appropriate tasks (like holding the dustpan while you sweep).

Make a pizza. If it’s dinnertime, make some easy homemade dough and ask your children to help you top your pizza. Choose new ingredients like pineapple or hamburger to make it exciting.

Experiment with colors. Using simple food coloring, give each child water in a clear cup. Ask them to choose which colors to drop into the water, and teach them about how mixing colors creates new ones.

Make homemade playdough. This recipe is beyond easy and so cheap! Keep cream of tartar in your pantry and whip it up whenever you need it. Use that food coloring to make batches in various colors to mash and knead to their heart’s content.

Balloon volleyball. Blow up a colored balloon and bounce it around with your little ones. Watch their amazement when they can ping it across the room.

Muffin pan sorting. Use small pom balls and ask your child to sort each by color in the muffin pan. Do the first couple yourself to get him or her started.

Bathtime fun. When it’s cold outside, sometimes the best place to have fun is in a warm bath. Fill it up with their favorite bubble bath and throw some non-bath toys in there for a surprise.

Make a countdown chain. What’s coming up for your child that’s exciting? Birthday, family member visit or holiday? Cut out strips of cardboard paper (or even computer paper they can color!) and make a chain by taping the ends together and looping the next one through it.

Produce painting. Find veggies or fruit in your pantry (apples, green peppers, carrots) and use them to stamp new shapes on paper. Simply slice them in half to get a size they can grip and dip in paint.

Embrace the elements. Whether it’s raining, snowing or sleeting, your child will probably find it enjoyable one way or another. Bundle everyone up and jump in the puddles, make a snowman or listen to the pitter-patter of rain on the window.

Have a dance party. Throw Pandora on your phone (either kid-friendly or kid station will work) and ask them to show you a new dance move. Let them take the lead and express themselves.

Look at baby pictures. Find your child’s photo album and talk to them about your memories of them as a baby. Tell them about how meaningful those moments were to you and watch their face light up!

Make a sensory bottle. Depending on the age of your child, you can pick different items to add to your bottle. Use a clean water bottle (VOSS bottles work great), remove the label, fill with water, food coloring and an oil component or dish soap (this slows the components inside). Then add glitter, beads, buttons and other items you have around your home.

Make a loved one a card. With paper around the house, ask them to decorate a card for a grandparent or neighbor who you know would love some new refrigerator art. Use stickers, crayons and markers to make a new masterpiece they’ll be proud to give.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your kids when you’re stuck indoors during the winter or a rainy day?


  1. Love these ideas and they’re so necessary during winter! Santa brought my little girl a kitchen for Christmas, so we play make believe all day long – she loves “making coffee” for me 🙂

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