There are snow days and there are snowed in days. If you live in the Northeast, you know what I'm talking about right now. Mother Nature dumped nearly two feet of snow on New York City in the last day and a half and after some initial giddiness over the sheer amount of snow, I've begun to realize that our family is more or less stuck at home for a day or two. Our street has yet to be plowed and after trying to keep up, many homeowners and landlords seem to have given up on clearing their sidewalks. Our subway line isn't running and we haven't seen any buses either so a sledding trip to Prospect Park isn't in the cards. We may venture out for a walk down the block to take some photos and marvel at this true winter wonderland, but mostly we're planning on hunkering down at home.
We've already watched Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on tv and assembled a few of our son's Christmas gifts so it's time to be more creative and come up with some fun family activities. Here are five ideas whether you're also snowed in where you are or to file away for later this winter when a blizzard comes your way. I'd love to hear your family's favorite way to spend a day snowed in, let me know in the comments section.
Make Something Together. It's tempting to get out your kids' art supplies and let them make whatever they want, but whether or not they'll admit it, what they really want is to spend time with you. Choose something you can all make together; particularly something that lends itself to collaboration and cooperation. One of my favorite projects we've written about is making a large scale marble painting. Another good one is making a cardboard house to decorate with cuts outs from catalogs and magazines. Decorate your family's dream house!
Go Indoor Bowling. Unless you've just taken out the recycling, I bet you can find an assortment of plastic bottles or jugs to set up as bowling pins. They don't have to be the same size, just empty (unless you have a very heavy ball like a basketball which can knock down full bottles). Set them up in a long hallway and use whatever balls you have around. This activity is especially recommended with a side of nachos.
Stage an Indoor Easter Egg Hunt. I'm no stranger to indoor egg hunts and have staged several in my apartments for friends and roommates in the past. Frankly, I prefer them as there are so many more great hiding spots (an egg carton in the fridge is a favorite). So find your plastic egg stash, blindfold your kids or send them into a small room that will be off limits for the game and get hiding! Fill your eggs with candy, tiny toys, a dollar bill, or just a joke.
Write Thank You Notes. Perhaps not the most fun thing on this list, but even young children should be involved in expressing thanks for their gifts. One idea I love for infants and toddlers is to take a photo of them with each gift like Julia did last year of her daughter. It's especially nice for family and friends who weren't able to see the child's reaction to opening the gift in person and it's also a nice way to send them an up-to-date photo of your child. Older kids, of course, should write their own notes and I find it's best to do them within a few days before your kids totally lose momentum. Pop some popcorn, put on an album or movie everyone likes and hunker down until they're done.
Make a 2011 Family Bucket List. What things would your family like to do, large and small, in the coming year? Is there a museum (or restaurant) in your town you've always meant to visit, but just never seem to get around to? A big trip you want to start planning? A house project you'd like to accomplish? Friends in town you've lost touch with you'd like to invite over? A recipe someone wants to try? Pour some cocoa, get comfy in your living room or family room and start brainstorming your list for the year. Let everyone contribute something, even if it's something small. Later, put your list somewhere where you all can see it and start dipping into that bucket!
(Images: 1. Carrie McBride 2. Let the Children Play 3. Flickr member smashmirrorandcardboard face licensed for use under CC 4. Flickr member Donna & Andrew licensed for use under CC 5. Julia Cho 6. Family Dry Erase Board, $20 for sale by Etsy member 4allseasons 6. Carrie McBride.)