I didn’t grow up playing outside all that often. Partially because of my disability, and partially because we weren’t raised playing outside of the house. When I was younger, it wasn’t something we did and looking back on it, the lack of outdoor activity doesn’t make me feel like I missed out on a great childhood. Considering the extreme limitations living with a disability placed on my mobility for a large part of my childhood, I don’t feel like I missed out on much at all. My family made sure I stayed as active as possible with games, toys, and playing “pretend school” so much it didn’t faze me all that I couldn’t play outside like other kids at my school talked about. Looking back, my family must have had a crash course in having an indoor activity plan for me with out even knowing what it was at the time. An indoor activity plan can have many benefits not only for your child but your family too.
While my son is active in a local soccer league, I’ve thought of other parents who need ideas for indoor activities as an option for increased interaction with their kids. We can always think of reading, movie times or even camp-outs indoors, to name a few things that are fun. The truth is when I became a parent, no one told me I should be armed with other things for us to do until I figured it out for myself. Having a plan with different activities for your child not only helps their development but can foster independence. No one’s saying it isn’t important for kids to go outside, but these are ideas for when being indoors may be the only option available for one reason or another.
Although I live in a warm climate, where most times the winter months are spent wearing short sleeves and shorts, I recently started thinking about what parents in colder climates do on weekends with their kids, or when the kids are home on break from school and they can’t go outside for entertainment. Those circumstances can leave anyone in the same boat. It can also be a source of stress for both parents and kids if you don’t have something both challenging and entertaining for your child to do. It might just leave you back at square one, not sure what activities your kids might like, and maybe unnecessarily frustrated with the situation.
Here is my take on some ideas to make sure your child doesn’t sit in front of the television all day, and that you get some quality time with your child too. These are things you can do with them as a parent with a disability. Even for parents who aren’t disabled, I often wonder if they would know what to do with their kids if there was a rainy day or something like after a hurricane where no other alternative exists but to stay indoors. After a severe weather event such as that, it would be necessary to find other ways to keep your child occupied. It’s also a great way to distract your kids from anything that may cause them stress in a situation that may be difficult for them to process.
At the outset, this can be an overwhelming idea but the first thing to remember is that your child loves you because you are their parent. All they really want to do is spend time with you in a loving and nurturing environment. The disability is secondary, if it even exists in their minds at all because they just see who you are. There are ways that you can play and enjoy time with them that are simple. There’s bowling and golf that we can set up and play together. Certain activities like that can also come with other benefits. These types of activities turned into early math lessons that have become early building blocks for other aspects of learning. You can also spend time with them coloring or painting. For older kids, it’s a great time to give them more practice with their handwriting or even reading beginner books. Board games and games of concentration can be fun and teach the importance of taking turns and patience. Another simple tip is to get kids involved in simple meal preparation. This not only can help them gain some skills that lead to increased independence, but may help solve the problem of the picky eater. If kids have a hand in helping make the food that ends up being put in front of them when it’s time to eat, they might be more excited to sit down at the dinner table.
These are only some simple suggestions of how to tackle the potential issues of boredom while being indoors. There’s no limit to what you can make into fun and age appropriate projects for the whole family. Involving your kids and other family members in coming up with their favorite activities would be a great option too. The ideas you come up with will help you pass the time and gives rise to fun memories. Kids can gain basic skills and experiences, so they have an idea of what to expect when certain things like hurricanes, winter storms or power outages happen. It will help a potentially scary experience for a child not be so scary after all.