Paper Worms and Playtime Hacks

Well, I’m certainly no expert on winter survival with small children in tow (my yellometer often creeps up in these dark, cold months), but I’m determined to learn. Below, my tried-and-true playtime hacks – a few spins on everyday activities that have been keeping our home (relatively) peaceful, fun and busy:

  1. Read a book backwards.
    When you’ve read every book in the house and the thought of bundling up the littles to trek to the library feels overwhelming, declare a backwards reading day. Gather a pile of pillows and cozy blankets, then crack open the spine of an old standby and start on the last page, reading back to front. Bee thinks jumbled words and nonsense stories are hilarious, and backwards reading is a great way to teach resourcefulness and creativity in using what we already have.
  2. Serve soup, with a twist.
    Have a favorite soup recipe that you’re head over heels for, but the kids are growing tired of? Try Giant Lunch. Serve your kid’s soup in their normal sized portion, but give them a tiny spoon (we use espresso spoons, or Scout’s baby spoons) to eat it with. The change in utensil adds a nice bit of novelty, and Bee loves pretending she’s a giant trying to wield a small spoon with big hands. (Bonus: It makes lunch take forever, which is nice when you’ve got a slow, lingering day at home and need to kill time.)
  3. Flashlight fun.
    Seriously, just give a kid a flashlight and they’ll be mesmerized for oh, an hour at least? Some days I’ll send Bee to our bedroom with a flashlight so she can explore under our bed (Bernie is forever hiding all kinds of treasures under there, so it’s a built-in surprise every time). She loves playing detective, then presenting a show-and-tell with her newfound discoveries.
  4. Early bird hide-and-seek.
    Bee has approximately 1,433 questions before her feet hit the floor in the morning (and before I’ve had enough coffee to answer). To delay the many questions and keep her occupied while I get breakfast in order, we play early bird hide-and-seek. I hide a paper worm somewhere in the house while she counts to 50 in her bed, and then I give her one simple clue to find it. The counting helps her wake up slowly and calmly, and the worm hunt keeps her busy so I can throw some coffee down the hatch and sneak in a morning devotional. Win/win.

Tell me your secrets? How do you survive a long day indoors with the littles? I’d love to hear!

  • What a smart idea! The days will soon go much more quickly when they are old enough to play together. I was inspired by your “go for a walk” post the other day, though… my boys play so nicely inside now that I have the opposite problem and need to work on getting out the door more often!

    • Ha, it can be so tricky to bundle up and get out there, yes? Glad to hear you’re experimenting with the adventure of it all! :)

  • Your worm tip is simply genious!!! Going to try it with my two.

  • I LOVE these ideas! This really only applies to our weekends but 1)cartoon time on the TV, 2) some iPad time, 3) helping with chores because “if we both do it we’ll get done faster” as he says, 4) strategic 15-minute play breaks that usually lead to him playing on his own for a while, 5) pulling out a toy that hasn’t seen the light of day or a dust rag for some time… = )

  • My trick for sneaking in a few more zzz’s on the weekends is to tell my little guy to wait until his clock says 7 – 3 – 0 and then to come back. He is free to play in his room while he waits it out. Most times, he comes back at 9 – 0 – 0 because he’s fallen back to sleep himself! I think he likes knowing his numbers and sharing that with us. Simple, but it works.

  • Hi Erin,

    I’m so glad to have discovered your blog. It’s beautiful. I especially love this piece, it’s a good reminder to slow down and enjoy life’s sweet moments. I wonder if eating lunch with chopsticks might be fun too, and a good way to open a discussion about different cultural traditions. Thanks for sharing. x x

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