Spring has sprung! And yet, as seems to happen every year, the cold drags on… and on… and on. We partnered with our friends at Bumkins to interview three intrepid #MindrMamas about their tips and tools for keeping her little ones happy and occupied during the colder days. In this final part in our series, we caught up with Ariel Scheer Stein, a high school teacher turned stay-at-home mom to Adina Lila and Noa Ella and the mama behind ArielLoves.com, to find out her tips for riding out the last of the cold.
What are your go-to strategies for keeping the kiddos entertained at home on chillier days?
We don’t have tons of space in our two bedroom apartment, but we’ve still found ways to keep our toddler and baby entertained:
Move around from room to room: Rather than staying in our living room all day, we spend some time in the girls’ bedroom playing with their toys and books in there. Then we'll switch over to my room for a while and have "tickle fights" and dance parties on my bed. Later we'll move back out to the living room, and that way we don't get tired or bored of being in the same space all day.
Create new toys and games: We use unexpected household items like cardboard boxes and safe kitchen utensils to come up with new games. Anyone else's kids get sick of their actual toys and just want to play with toilet paper roll or bang on some pots and pans?
Don’t rule out screens: This winter, we had some days with below-freezing temperatures with the windchill making the real feel -5 degrees. On days like this, we don’t leave the house at all. We let Adina watch some nursery rhymes, children’s shows, or movies (her current favorites are Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Word Party, and Moana) and this gives us a chance to cuddle on the couch together. It also gives both of us a much-needed break.
When you venture out of the house with them on chilly days, what kinds of activities do you focus on?
With the exception of the absolutely freezing days, I do try to get some fresh air and go out of the house every day at least once. I’ve had to make a greater effort to arrange indoor play dates with local friends. Scheduling can sometimes be tricky with unpredictable naps, but if we’re going to be stuck at home, we might as well be stuck at home together!
When we’re not playing in someone else’s home, we also go to some other places in the neighborhood. Our local library has a weekly story time and arts and crafts activity that we try to attend every few weeks. Adina also loves going to the Barnes and Noble to play in their children’s section, pick out some books together, and ride the escalator (so exciting)! I like going to both of these places because they’re close by, they have lots of books for Adina to choose from, and they’re free! A new indoor play space called Good Day Play Cafe opened not too far from us this past year. Adina has so much fun jumping in the ball pit, dressing up in costumes, playing with the toy kitchen, and enjoying the yummy snacks in the cafe.
What physical items are in your cold weather toolkit, both for play time at home and for heading out and about?
I always have “busy pouch” with a few tchotchke toys on hand. I usually put small finger puppets, colorful crystal rocks, and action figures inside my Bumkins pouch and take one item out at a time. The other must-have item in my winter toolkit is snacks! I never leave the house without having a few easy-to-eat snacks with us. That usually includes fruit (Adina is partial to berries, sliced apples, and clementines), a cheese stick, or the occasional yogurt pouch. I always put some kind of snack like peanut butter Bamba puffs, cheddar bunnies, or pretzels in one of the Bumkins snack bags. In my book, you can never have too many snacks!
On those really pent-up, cabin-feverish cold days, when nothing seems to keep them happy, what's your secret weapon?
That’s a tough one! I’d think my secret weapon on days like that is breaking the rules! What do I mean by that? Letting my toddler wear her helmet and ride her scooter all over our apartment. Putting our bathing suits on and going “swimming” in the bathtub with our water toys in the middle of the day. Playing music loudly and chasing each other around our home. Letting my toddler sit on the counter and act as my “sous chef” while we cook a meal together. Basically, doing things that she’s usually not allowed to do!
What's one thing you miss about winter once the warmer weather rolls around?
This is the first year that Adina really understood and enjoyed playing in the snow. She built her first snowman and rode down a hill on a sled for the first time this year. Although I love the warm weather, there is something so magical and beautiful about watching the snow fall. Once the warm weather rolls around, I miss the “magic” of the snowy winter days!