The holidays are officially over and we’re slogging through the coldest, snowiest months of the year. According to an unofficial poll taken of tired women everywhere (meaning we talked to our wives), this is also the time when moms are most likely to be driven absolutely bonkers by stir-crazy kids.
Add a global pandemic on top of that, and we have a pretty dire situation on our hands.
So here’s your cue, Dad!
We’ve put together a list of our top 10 activities for you to do with your kids with the three primary goals of:
A.) helping Mom and giving her some time off
B.) bonding with your kids
C.) entertaining them/tiring them out
Here you go (you’re welcome in advance):
Host an epic video game battle or movie marathon. Screen time limits? The limit does not exist. At least not when it comes to keeping the kids out of Mom’s hair so she can get a well-deserved break. Need some good movie recs? We’ve got you covered. Here are the Top Ten 80s Movies for Dads to Watch with Their Kids and The Top Ten 90s Movies for Dads and Kids.
Just make sure you also knock out a few chores (see our tips below for how to make it way more fun!) so you can claim you did something productive while Dad was on duty. Wink, wink.
Make up a silly dance for TikTok. We can’t promise you’ll go viral like this hilarious trend did, but you’ll definitely have a ton of fun and make some great memories. “Your Korean dad” would be so proud!
Build a fort with all those Amazon boxes you have leftover from the holidays, pillows, blankets, couch cushions, and chairs. Have a picnic inside or snuggle up together and read books.
Get a jump-start on Valentine’s Day cards. You don’t need to be the most creative or crafty dad to do this one. Just gather together some colored paper, stickers, crayons, markers, etc., and let the kids work their magic. There’s truly nothing more meaningful to Mom than a homemade card expressing how much you love and appreciate her.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, help make or fill out valentines for all your kids’ classmates as well. It may not sound like a big deal, but it’ll be a huge weight off of Mom’s shoulders when she realizes she doesn’t have to worry about it the night before the party!
Of course, if you’re in need of your own thoughtful gift for your sweetheart, we went straight to the source and asked a mom to give us 20 ideas for ways to make her feel loved on Valentine’s Day. Check out her list here.
Knock out some chores, but make it fun! Create a chart with various household chores for each kid—tasks like making the bed, vacuuming, cleaning mirrors and windows, or carrying laundry up and down the stairs. Get a competition going by setting time limits (read: tire them out!) and offer a reward to the child who completes their tasks the fastest. We’re sure we don’t need to remind you to inspect their work to make sure it’s up to Mom’s standards.
Create vision boards. This is a great bonding activity that can help strengthen your relationship with your older kids and encourage imagination and creativity. Not to mention, it can provide opportunities for some important and meaningful discussions that might not happen otherwise. All you need is a few sheets of poster board, some magazines, scissors, and a glue stick.
Design an indoor obstacle course. Anything that entertains your kids and tires them out at the same time is a win in our book, and obstacle courses are the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.
The secret is to construct a course that is best suited for your child and his/her unique needs and abilities. Have one kid who’s got tons of excess energy? Include lots of repetitive physical movements throughout the course, i.e., roll a dice and have them do that number of jumping jacks or push-ups at each station.
Working on literacy? Set up a jar full of alphabet magnets—have your child draw one and say a word that begins with that letter to get to the next station. You can easily adapt this concept to counting, math equations, or whatever your child is working on in school.
Alternate larger, more physical obstacles with ones that focus on fine motor skills. For example, give each kid a pair of tongs or a ladle and have them carry small items from one station to the next.
Finally, come up with a few creative ideas for how to get between obstacles: crab walk, bear crawl, Army crawl, walk backward, shuffle sideways, skip, dance, etc.
The possibilities with these are really endless! You can literally make your obstacle course as complicated or as simple as you like. There’s no need to go crazy—you can literally just drape a sheet between two chairs that your child has to crawl under, pile up some cushions to “mountain climb” over, and throw some pillows on the ground as stepping stones over “lava.”
Always remember to time how long it takes them to complete a circuit so they can work on beating their records. Just make sure to clean up your mess afterward and put everything back where it belongs!
Make the most of quiet time by doing a puzzle together, building LEGO sets, or playing games:
- Pictionary/Junior Pictionary
- Scrabble/Junior Scrabble
Get outside. We know, this is a list of “indoor” activities, but there’s truly no better remedy for cabin fever. With the right cold-weather gear, the sky’s the limit. Have a snowball fight, stomp and slosh through puddles, or try one of our awesome outdoor scavenger hunt ideas.
We also highly recommend you check out the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge, which is a great initiative that aims to match outdoor time with the amount of screen time kids get throughout the year. When you break it down, all it takes is an average of 2 1/2 hours a day of outdoor time to get to 1000 hours for the entire year. Learn more about it here.
Make dinner for Mom. Let’s be honest—the effort of planning and making dinner can be exhausting, and we all know she’s already suffering from serious decision fatigue. Taking this off her plate (literally!) will be one less thing for her to worry about. Even if it’s just getting pizza delivery and throwing a blanket on the floor for a picnic, she’ll appreciate the gesture.