Jenn Morgan Danny Drake

Winter brings beautiful snow, short days and blustery winds. This season can be great for romantic snuggling by the fire, but can be a source of cabin fever for toddlers that are too young for lengthy exposure outdoors. Truth be told, before I had a baby, I never minded long lounges on the couch in front of the television. "CSI," "NCIS," "The Office" - all great companions on a cold night.

For me, winter has brought a challenge on the best way to spend my weekday nights and weekend days. I don't want to put my daughter (or myself) into a TV-induced coma, and playing fetch with the dog outdoors has to be put on the shelf until slightly warmer weather. My daughter is at an age where there are many child-friendly crafts that are still a little too complicated for her skills level, or contain materials that are a choking hazard. I have plenty of ideas for crafts that would occupy her time when she is a little older, but for now I am left wondering what to do.

I would like to share a few ideas that I believe may solve the conundrum of beating toddler boredom.

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Water Bottle Bowling - Save empty water bottles and fill them with colorful shredded paper. Position them in a traditional bowling pin set up (or not), add a medium-sized ball, and you are ready to roll!

Stand-in Sandpit - Let's face it, kids love sandboxes because they love making a mess. When outdoors is off limits, take a shallow box, add some rice and a cup and you have a stand-in sandpit. I taped my box to the floor with painter's tape so my daughter would not turn it into a travelling sandpit.

Laundry Landslide - My clever husband thought of this fun activity. Take a filled laundry basket, place small tot in side and slide around the house. What is so clever about this when it has been done before? The laundry provides a cushion to make for a comfy ride.

One Man Band - Take household items and make noisy, yet entertaining instruments. A coffee can or Crisco tub make a great make-shift drum. A wooden spoon clanged against a pot creates a drum with a different beat. In fact, make both types of drums and compare sounds. Fill an empty water bottle or plastic container with rice or sprinkles for a homemade maracas.

Pretend Princess - I made my daughter a red and pink tutu that she loves put on and prance around the house. I took one of her drawings that she lovely colored for me, rolled it into a party hat and propped it on top of my princess' head to complete the look. The hat stayed on her head for about two seconds. We then proceeded to play the game of Mommy puts the hat on, Bella takes the hats off. It may sound boring, but both of us were laughing and sharing great interaction.

Hide and Seek - This is such an old-fashioned, simple yet classic game that keeps my daughter entertained for a long, long time. It is not a novel idea, but still very entertaining for all involved. We take turns hiding behind doors, in open closets, behind furniture. Besides playing chase, this is my daughter's favorite game and our go-to activity when all else fails.

These ideas may not be novel, but sometimes when the winter doldrums set in, we forget what we already know. When toys abound but your child is listless with nothing to do, look around your house for some inspiration to beat the winter blues.


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