I don't know what winter is like in your neck of the woods, but here in the Carolinas we have a pretty fair mix of cold days and mild days. The mild days are easy, but sometimes those cold days make keeping little ones happy and busy a challenge. But, for me and my house, we must stay active or there will be meltdowns. If that's the case in your house, too, then read on because I have some tips that might help. :)
1. Indoor running space: Find them
I personally don't love most indoor play places. I think they're dirty and germy, and I know way too many little ones who've ended up with Hand, Foot, and Mouth playing in them to make me feel super comfortable taking my girls there, especially while Adia is still in her must-taste-all-the-things phase. But cold and rainy winter days sometimes necessitate getting out while still staying inside, and, on those days, I like to compromise. A couple of our favorites include a local coffee shop that has a covered and heated courtyard of sorts where the girls can run around (and mommy can get a cup of coffee!) and the indoor common area by the pool here in our own neighborhood. Obviously, these two examples are very specific to our city, but if you look around I'm sure you'll find something similar. In the absence of those types of places, though, I prefer to utilize the smaller, lesser-known indoor play areas like the kids' section in the public library or Barnes and Noble and the few, family-run coffee shops that have a small toy corner. They see less traffic and feel cleaner, but maybe that's just me. ;)
2. Kid-Specific Activities
Story time at the library is a big hit with my girls especially on cold, wet winter days (and sinfully hot summer days, too!). Also worth looking into are children's museums and children's theaters with kid-friendly productions.
3. Learn the Art of Bundling
Fresh air and a little vitamin D are some of life's best medicines, in my opinion (but I'm no doctor), so, on the days when it's cold but not wet, I usually still bundle the girls and get outside. Layers are a huge key to this as are basics like hats and mittens. We go to the park or take a walk on the greenway. Anything kind of goes here; the point is to get outside and get moving, and my girls both know that a refusal to keep their hats/mittens/layers on will result in a rapid return to the house.
4. Learn a New Skill With Your Littles
There are tons of places that offer art classes and music classes and dance/sports/gymnastics lessons, and many of them have a mommy-and-me format. These are great for long winter days! Check out what's available in your area; I promise it'll be good for you AND your little one!
5. Indoor Pools
If you've never experienced the nap that comes after spending even just 30 minutes in a pool then you're missing out. A lot of gyms and most YMCAs have pools with free-swim hours. You can join or, if you don't think you'll use it that much, most of them will let you pay-per-visit. Regardless, find a pool. You can come back and thank me while your little one takes the best nap (s)he's ever taken. ;)
Now, let me say before I go any further that I am in no way endorsing child labor. But I am all about teaching little ones to be responsible and helpful, so, that being said, let your kiddos help you around the house. It can be simple things like handing you clean dishes out of the dishwasher, sweeping with a kid-sized broom, wiping down the table, and making their bed, but 1. keeping a schedule and 2. keeping active will be your best friends if you're worried about how to survive the winter with your little ones! And, while you're letting your children help you, go ahead and...
7. Give Up a Little
Seriously. Your toddler may not be able to complete any of these chores as quickly or as perfectly as you could have done, but these are still valuable skills to have. Not to mention, you could probably use the help, such as it may be. Plus, practice makes perfect, so remember that it'll get better with time...your patience AND your child's proficiency at these various tasks, that is. ;)
And, above all, cherish the season. I think we all want to pull our hair out from time to time, but there really are reasons to love every season, even the long winter after Christmas. :)
What fun things do you do to keep your kiddos occupied?