How the Eff… Do You Keep a Toddler Entertained In the Dead of Winter?

Do you want to build a snowman? Uh, not so much when the snow is over your head. photo by Corrina Lawson
Do you want to build a snowman? Uh, not so much when the snow is over your head. Photo by Corrina Lawson

As the snow continues to come down in New England, keeping the kids entertained day after day has been much on my mind. There’s only so much that can be done with snow up to their shoulders and without Elsa’s power.

Solving this problem seemed to much for one person. Instead, we needed a GeekMom collective to answer the conundrum: How the Eff… do you keep a 2-year-old entertained in the dead of winter? 

This is our very first question in the new How the Eff… series. If you have questions, the GeekMom collective will have answers, usually more than one. Buzz us on Facebook or Twitter.

The best part of this communal response is that I now have activities for multiple days. Now where are my eye droppers, Play-Doh, assorted kitchen liquids, and pillows?

Stacy Phares: ABCMouse. Sorting seeds or playing with kitties.

Alison Curtin: I used the television as a babysitter on Monday morning while I logged into my work email…have to admit it! But after lunch and nap time, we played a ton of board games, made cookies, and then did yoga together (I live in an apt, seemed the only real exercise physical activity I could get in without busting a lamp!).

Kristina Jager: Hmm…I take a large plastic tub, a beach towel, and glow sticks/cups/spoons/anything really and filled the tub with warm water (how much depends on you) and just set it up where I was and let her play. Think “Inside Beach.” I still do this–she’s three now and loves it. I also created a bean tub with various types of dried beans and trucks and spoons. It can be moved to wherever I need to be and is contained.

Carmel Johnson: For some reason my kids were fascinated with Rollercoaster Tycoon as toddlers.

Jane Berger: Play dates, lunch at the pizza shop, ha! Eventually we gave up and moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Cathé Post: Scavenger Hunt for random household objects. Take a picture, move along.

Rebecca Angel: Mopping the entire house with barefeet, hands, and rags. A fun way to get a workout with kids, and clean!

Rick Blake: Dress them up like an overstuffed marshmallow and throw them into a snowbank. Trust me. It’s fun.

Renee Titelbaum: I’m not in the NE (and this can be scaled for different ages), but a few years ago when we were snowed in we set up an obstacle course for my son (had to hula hoop, crawl under the coffee table, anything we could think of). Indoor scavenger hunts can be fun too. They could be educational (like using PostIts or 3x5s for each letter of the alphabet stuck to an item that starts with that letter, then kids collect them and put them in alphabetical order), or you can make the kids plan them for each other.

Karen Burnham: I had good luck on Super Bowl Sunday (nine inches of snow here in Colorado) with sponges and finger paint. He’s not up to holding a paintbrush well yet, and hates getting his hands wet, but he could make all kinds of interesting patterns with the sponges, and loved looking at the itty bitty paint bubbles it made. That worked for a whole 15 minutes!

Julia Johnson Attaway: An eye dropper, a muffin pan with different colors of water, and paper towels on which to drip the colored water and watch it spread.

Goop. Roll up white socks and have an indoor “snowball” fight. Build a fort. Collect things in the house that start with a given sound, e.g., things whose names start with B. Potions (my kids still do this a decade later) made with whatever kitchen liquids you are willing to spare.

Beth Hatch Maschmeier: Homemade play dough, and snow cream! And lots of movies.

Dreamers of Dreams: Mine will sit for ages with a pile of books! And she’s only one and a half.

Laura Grace Weldon: Let them help in the kitchen. My kids at that age loved to cut mushrooms with a butter knife, tear lettuce, clean up crumbs with a mini-vac. If I was really patient I let them “wash” plastic cups in a sink of soapy water. Also, throwing a blanket over a table for a fort into which they can take toys and (big thrill) flashlight.

Audrey Jankucic: My mom used to make us homemade play dough. It was the only time we ever got to have it, so strategically it kept us busy forever because we thought it was a special treat. Also, as I grew up in Maine, snow fort building was encouraged.

Malinda Long-Copland: Indoor trampoline.

Amy Vander Vorste: Put on swim suit and splash in the tub to their heart’s content.

Kathy Kay Moore: Play-Doh always worked wonders for us, also Silly Putty. We also had some “special” books that were only used with adult supervision… Pop-ups, paper engineering, old hand-me-downs, that we could get out for a special event. These started out as books to read to #1 while #2 was nursing, so there was a cozy feeling to it. We also liked to play with ice cubes at the tables, or in the bathtub. Since my two are close in age, they helped to distract each other.

Katie Lane: I’m told 5210 Let’s Go! has a lot of indoor active ideas….

Christie Abbott Fitzgerald: Freeze blocks of ice, give her some paint, and let her create frozen art.

Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.