In summer, playdates just happen. In winter, especially when the weather is cruddy, the temptation to retire to the kitchen with hot coffee while the kiddos watch a video can be overwhelming. We’re not TV purists or anything, but winter can last a long time in certain parts of the country so it pays to be armed with cold weather playdate ideas before you invite you best mom friends over for the afternoon.
Here are 11 of our favorite – and easy – cold weather playdate ideas designed to keep herds of toddlers entertained for hours:
1. Have a pint-sized rave: When you need playdate ideas for high-energy kids, a toddler dance party can help everyone work off some energy without having to deal with jackets, boots, and other outdoor accouterments.Get creative! Freeze dance, musical chairs, and other dance games are all toddler approved.
2. The 30-minute challenge: Older toddlers can be assigned a fun specific task, like building a house with blocks or putting together train tracks using all the pieces. Younger toddlers may not be able to handle playing within specific guidelines, so challenge them to build something cool before the 30-minute timer dings.
3. Get crafty (if you can cope with the chaos): So what if you’re not the kind of mom who can magically whip up anything she sees on Pinterest? Toddlers are remarkably forgiving of mama’s shortcomings when there’s glue, yarn, paint, and glitter on the table. Just make sure you warn your playdate cohort that things are going to get messy.
4. The indoor sandbox: As playdate ideas go, this is one that can get a little grainy but sandbox sand is clean and fairly easy to sweep up. A high-sided plastic storage bin can help contain the grains.
5. Bake up your playdate snacks: This is another messy one, but toddlers love to help in the kitchen and baking with kids is an amazing opportunity to teach numbers, basic math, and chemistry. Having aprons and smocks ready and preparing ingredients in advance can make this playdate idea easier on parents.
6. Bust out the Play-Doh: Whether store-bought or homemade, Play-Doh can keep even the rowdiest toddlers entertained for hours. Or a good half hour, anyway. Don’t worry about buying fancy accessories – a few cookie cutters, rolling pins, and plastic butter knives are all you need.
7. Start a business: We mean a pretend business, of course. Have the kids set up a faux fast food restaurant or grocery, and mamas can be the shoppers. Play food is helpful for this playdate idea, but not strictly necessary since anything can stand in for food in active imaginations. Alternately, play toy store.
8. Take a field trip: The library is free and fun, and may even take care of the activities for you. Next time you hit the books, pick up a schedule that lists things like story hour and toddler music shows so you can plan playdates around them.
9. ABC scavenger hunt: This playdate idea is for older toddlers who can recognize their letters, but if adults are willing to help the little ones then everyone can play along. Players have to find objects that begin with each letter of the alphabet – or objects with those letters written on them.
10. Build a fort: We’ve never met a toddler who didn’t love stripping beds of their blankets and couches of their cushions to create a cuddly fortress of solitude!
11. Hide and seek: You can’t go wrong with this classic group game that even the youngest toddlers love. Sure, their hiding spots may be kind of obvious and being found is often more fun than finding, but if everyone is having fun, who cares? Older toddlers can be the designated finders or adults can do the searching, slowly.
What are your favorite indoor playdate ideas?