My Favorite Indoor Winter Activities When It’s Too Cold to Leave the House


indoor winter activitiesWinter is definitely not my favorite season. From bitter, cold temperatures to navigating the roads in snow and ice, I would prefer to hibernate indoors or move to the South during the long, four-plus months we have of winter in Iowa.

With kids, cabin fever sets in, and you’re ready for the season to be over as soon as it hits the New Year. While I love snuggling on the couch and piling on the warm blankets, you can only be lazy for so long until you feel, well, lazy.

When it’s too blasted cold outside, or when you’re still feeling that laziness, that’s when it’s time to try a new indoor activity and get creative with your kiddos.

Here are my favorite indoor winter activities for when it’s too cold to leave the house:

1. Get crafty.

I am not a crafty person whatsoever. But there are plenty of things that you can purchase that are:

  • Coloring books, construction paper, crayons
  • Scissors for the older kids to cut out shapes
  • Felt shapes and glue
  • Stickers and sticker books
  • Play-Doh
  • Finger paint
  • Beads to make bracelets or necklaces

You can find most of these items at Target, Costco, or Hobby Lobby. Spend some time crafting to help your kids practice fine motor skills and tap into their creative side.

2. Bake or cook something.

I love having a little helper in the kitchen when I bake. Granted, she can’t do everything, but my two-year-old loves to stand on a chair and watch Mommy. Some great jobs for her are stirring, pouring in ingredients, and “helping” me wash dishes.

For older kids, involve them in meal planning. Ask them what they want to help make, take them to the store with you, and have them help you find the ingredients. When you get home, they can help you make dinner — whether they want to cut up vegetables, put the ingredients together, or even set the table.

Pro tip: Meal planning saves my sanity. Plan meals for at least a week ahead of time, if not two weeks. This will help cut down on last-minute meal planning and non-essentials at the grocery store. Plus, kids like routine and predictability, like knowing what’s for dinner, and they will love that they helped be a part of the planning process.

3. Build a fort.

What kid doesn’t love making a fort out of furniture? Grab some couch cushions and blankets, and get creative. Let your kids burn some energy if they want to jump around on the cushions a bit (on the floor, so they can’t break anything).

Bring some toys into the fort, have a picnic, or grab a flashlight and tell stories.

4. Tell your kids stories about when they were younger, or of when you were younger.

They love hearing and remembering things. I recently read a great article on the power of storytelling and the impact it has on your children.

You can also make up stories, or ask your kids to share stories with you. Spend some time just talking with your kids, whether all together or one-on-one. They will value this time with you more than anything.

From the article:

“Family stories can be told nearly anywhere. They cost us only our time, our memories, our creativity. They can inspire us, protect us, and bind us to others. So be generous with your stories, and be generous in your stories. Remember that your children may have them for a lifetime.”

5. Read new books.

Stock up on some library books and spend time reading to your kids, or ask them to read to you. Or if you have older kids, designate a reading time where you’re all in the same room, reading books together. Make hot chocolate and snuggle up with a good book.

6. Reserve items to bring out on really cold days.

I reserve certain items to play with when I know my daughter is getting stir crazy, or I wait to open something new until then. This could be small new toys, like Legos, Barbies, or puzzles. Or let your kids do something you don’t let them regularly do, like have some extended screen time. This could afford you some much-needed Mommy time to yourself.

7. Winter cleaning.

If your kids are older, you can involve them in cleaning the house, or even just organizing that storage closet you’ve been meaning to get to. They could go through clothes and toys they don’t need any more and create a pile of items to donate. The idea is to make this a collaborative effort and get their feedback and involvement in what they would like to do to help around the house.

Younger kids are eager to help, but there are fewer things they can do. My daughter loves to help sweep the kitchen floor and wash dishes. Even though she isn’t exactly helping, she is occupied while I am also getting something done. She also enjoys helping move laundry from the washer to the dryer and “helping” put away her clothes in her room. I’ve made a game out of matching socks and outfits to put away.


There’s still quite a bit of winter left in Des Moines, and while it seems like it will take forever, it’s true that the days are long but the weeks are short. Find ways to connect with your kids during this blustery winter season before the hustle and bustle of spring activities begin.

What are your favorite indoor activities to do during the winter?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here