Rhythms of Family: February

We finally had our first snow of 2012! Looks like Punxsutawney Phil got it right this year. I won’t lie, we’ve certainly enjoyed the last few weeks of “spring” weather. The babe & I got at least 3 walks in at the park and I even started planning my garden…literally drawing it out on a legal pad. However, the lovely warm weather is a little bittersweet when you consider the potential for long-term damage to our planet. I’ve been eager to have a little snowfall that reflects the bright morning sun. This morning was just what I’ve been waiting for – I opened all the blinds to let in as much sunshine as possible and spent most of the morning listening to “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and getting my house and heart ready for Sabbath.

Even though today was a pretty great day of sunshine and snow and cleaning house and preparation, usually February days are dark and dismal and LONG. I find myself counting down the hours until lunchtime…or nap time…or bedtime! It is hard enough finding fun and purposeful things to do by yourself during the long days of winter, but even more so with a curious and capricious toddler. I’ve built in a few rhythms this winter that have been helpful, and I’m always on the lookout for crafts/activities/recipes/etc to work into the routine.

Speaking of routine – I’ve learned the hard way that this is one of the best ways to survive the winter. A simple weekly routine not only gives your toddler something to expect, but it helps you set goals and feel structured too. If I don’t have a “loose” routine for the week I end up planted on the couch, looking around at my disaster of a house, eating boxed macaroni & cheese, while the kiddo runs around in circles.

The next most important strategy is coming up with those creative activities and crafts to fill the long morning hours before nap time! 🙂 Here are some of my most recent favorites for occupying a 20 month old:

  • Craft: these might only take 15-30 minutes but it’s quality, one-on-one attention and they’re learning too! Try: chunky crayons, valentine’s day banner, or a love note for daddy.
  • Sensory: silly activities that help kids develop hand-eye coordination or fine-motor skills are easy, especially when you get creative with stuff you have at home (stacking cans, stuffing toys into an empty tissue box, hiding things under pillows, etc). A friend of mine recommended giving my toddler a bowl of beans (we used oyster crackers so she could snack while she played) and then give them a spoon to try and scoop the crackers into a smaller container (bottle, jug, etc). Or, if your child is a little older, make a sensory box!
  • Bake: make some bread or cookies so the house will smell amazing & let your toddler help as much as they can…or, just let them play with the magnetic alphabet letters and clips on the fridge. (ps: Disney Pandora is always helpful too!)
  • Library: a trip to the library always breaks up a long, dreary morning. We haven’t made it to very many “story time” events this winter, but even just going to pick out a few new books every week gives us something to do. I’ve also noticed the benefit of letting my little “reader” explore the books by herself. She flips through them at her own pace and will even babble little songs and stories to herself. (As you can see from the picture below, she’s hilarious AND she’s a genius! Note the orientation of the book.)
  • Bath “Pool time”: what’s one of the best summertime activities? The pool! So why not enjoy the indoor “pool” too? I’ve tried to set aside a few bath times that are less about getting squeaky clean and more about having fun: lots of toys, maybe some music, and lots of “swimming.” Someday I’ll get around to making some bath paints! Or what about bath time in the dark???

What are some of your favorite snow day activities???

 

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