Friday, January 22, 2016

Bust the "Snow Day" Boredom

In light of all the snow being dumped on many parts of the country right now I thought it would be a good time to share my "snow day boredom busters".  In our family we have a mix of 5 girls and boys ranging from 14 years old down to 3 years old so we need a variety of ideas to appeal to everyone.

When we get the call and school has been cancelled it can be a little terrifying to think of being locked down at the house for the entire day. Alone. With five kids. Did I mention alone?!  Okay, well it's really not that bad...really.  I actually quite like a snow day and I enjoy the break from the normal routine...the excuse to sleep in a little, stay in pjs and take it easy, and the best part is really just having an entire day to make memories!  These days are so fleeting and I realize as I look at my 14 year old "man-child" that I really need to cherish all the time I get with them while they are growing up.

I don't think we do anything to earth shattering on our days snowed in, but I am excited to share what we do with you and hope that your families can use some of these ideas to enjoy your next snow day together.

Our 4 youngest checking out their first "snow day" of the year just a couple of days ago!

  • Get outside! Okay, so maybe this is pretty basic, but since you can't beat the snow you might as well get out there and join it, right?!  Build a snow man, have a snowball fight, make snow angels. Or maybe do you have a hill nearby that you can sled on?  And for the more practical; get out some shovels and start shoveling driveways!  Once you have tackled your own maybe you could offer to shovel a neighbor's driveway that could use a helping hand?  My oldest sons grab shovels and even a friend or two and will traipse around the neighborhood knocking on doors and asking if they can shovel driveways for a few bucks. They split $75 up 3 ways last snow day for a little under 2 hours of work....not bad!
Our oldest son (far left) and two of his friends going out to shovel neighborhood driveways.

We get everyone in on clearing the snow around our house - even the 3 year olds and our poodle, Tuscan, gets in on the fun!

  • Make Snow Ice Cream.  What is snow ice cream you ask? It is a time honored tradition in our family!  My husband and his family made it while he was growing up and he would even make it for the two of us before we had kids (seriously, he is obsessed with the stuff!). And now our kids BEG for snow ice cream anytime there is even the slightest hint of a flurry outside.  Try it with your kiddos - I think it will become a hit for your family, too!                                      

           How to make Snow Ice Cream                                                                                 


            Vanilla extract
             Gather up a couple of large mixing bowls of fresh, white snow. Mix in about a 1/2 cup of                     sugar, a tablespoon or so of vanilla extract and a few splashes of milk.  We just add in the                   ingredients until we get the right consistency and taste. SO easy and SO yummy! :)

Our Family Making Snow Ice Cream - Lily, Morgan (our Au Pair), Parker, Tanner, Max, Derek(my husband) and Gabby

  • Have a Treasure Hunt! Too cold to venture outside? How about an indoor treasure hunt? When I was a kid I used to play a game called "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk" with my dad all the time. Any one else play this? He would hide a small object (we often used this small horse trinket that I loved) somewhere in the family room. It has to be within sight (think not putting it inside, under or in something). As I would get closer he would say "you're warm, warmer" and "you're hot. On fire!" or if I was looking in the wrong areas he would say "you're cold. very cold." It is truly one of my favorite memories of time with my dad. So simple, but truly so much fun. Think your kids are too old for this one?  You might be surprised!  I add incentives - like the kid that collect the most "treasures" can pick what kind of cookie we will make (see the next tip :)  or I will add 50 cents to their allowance for winning or they get to choose a piece of candy when they win, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to get the older ones to participate and I am not above incentives so we can have a fun, all in kind of time together. When playing with multiple kids I will usually switch up the game a bit and actually write out a list of things they need to find around the house that they have to check off as they go and then bring the completed list back to me once it's finished.  Sometimes we do "teams". It can really be fun and  such an interactive way to spend an afternoon together. 
Here are a few ideas that I found online that maybe could give you ideas (I make my own, but they are nearly as pretty as these!).

  • Make some Homemade Cookies.   I don't always make cookies as an "event". As a matter of fact, I usually try to make them alone so I can get it done, get them baked and get out of the kitchen.  Anytime I involve the kids it can be quite a mess and I can get a *little* frustrated (sigh).  At any rate when stuck in the house for a snow day it can be a great opportunity to get everyone together and take the time to let everyone participate in baking and then enjoying some yummy cookies! We love to make cookies and then some hot cocoa to enjoy with them. The two together can't help, but warm you up! 
Here is a recipe my family loves. We call them "snowball" cookies. I hope you enjoy! 
1 cup of butter, softened
4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of powdered sugar (set aside for decorating later)
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream butter in large mixing bowl. Add vanilla and gradually add in the powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour into the butter mixture and mix until forms a ball. Roll dough into about 1 inch balls onto a cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes - until the edges are very light brown. 
Remove from oven and while still warm, roll in the powdered sugar that you sat aside. place them in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes (should be solid to the touch) and then roll again in the powdered sugar and serve. These are truly delish with a mug of hot cocoa! Enjoy :)

  • PJs and a Movie. So with my family this is a biggie. We have a home theater in the lower level of our home and we love family movie nights. This is a snow day twist on our family movie night!  Everyone gets in pjs, we usually pop some popcorn and get cozy in front of a fun "snowy" movie. Some of our favorites are Home Alone, Polar Express and Elf. 

  • Play "Heads Up"! Okay, so this requires an iPad, iPhone or other smart device.  The app is free to download. You can play many fun categories including "just for kids" for free and add others for a minimal one time charge. This is a kind of electronic version of  "Head Bandz" game but WAY more fun!  We LOVE to play this game and it is as fun with 2 or 3 people as it is with huge groups of people. It can also be a really active game, especially when choosing the "act it out" category and is always a ton of laughs from adults and kids alike! 

  • Surprise Ride box.  This is an amazing craft box that you can have sent to your family monthly with a subscription.  We aren't always able to do our monthly box so we store them in our front coat closet and when we have a snow day or a low key weekend day or evening we pull one out and work together as a family.  There are several activities in the box so typically my boys will each pick something they want to head up and we will all help with each part. The boxes have crafts, books, snacks, etc. and they are really well thought out.  We often provide these for birthday gifts to our kid's friends. They really love the Surprise Box so much and often want to introduce their friends to it.  This is something you will have to order in advance so do it now and be ready for the next snow day :) You can check it out here.
This pic is actually almost 2 years old of my boys with a surprise ride box. We have been enjoying these for a long time! 

Well, I hope that my list helps inspire you with your kiddos on your next snow day and if you have a fun activity that your family does on a snow day please share it in the comments below!  I would love to have some new ideas to add to our list. With my youngest two at just 3 years old I think I am going to have many many more snow days in my future and your can't have too many boredom busters to chose from.

Happy Friday! 

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