We spent the last week in Jackson, Wyoming, totally snowed-in and enjoying each other's company. Trying to keep three boys busy in an ice-cold town with access only to a hotel suite and whatever Amazon Prime will deliver is…interesting. The experience made me realize that there are actually a TON of healthy family activities that can be enacted at the drop of a hat, if you have a few ideas and are open to going with the flow.
As a parent, it can be exhausting to come up with new activities to keep the kiddos entertained. I'll admit that there was a time or two when I retreated to the bathroom just to get a moment of peace and brainstorm the next time-passer.
A lot was learned, though, and now I have a seemingly-endless reserve of entertainment ideas! You can benefit from my experience.
Here's my list of healthy family activities that are sure to keep the family busy and learning in as much time – or as little – as you have available.
- Tell a never-ending story. Now that our boys are getting older, this has become a favorite pastime for us. A parent sets the scene like, “Once upon a time, there lived a _______” and then the kids fill in the blank. Take turns stopping abruptly at pivotal parts of the story and seeing where the next person takes it.
- Practice yoga. With a 4-year-old, the downward dog can be downright hilarious.
- Play a board game.
- Have a good old-fashioned wrestling match.
- Bath time. Not just ANY bath time, though. Bust out the shaving cream and see what funny designs the kids can create on the walls!
- Try your juggling skills.
- Talent show.
- Grow a garden. Even with the tiniest of windows available, you can plant a seed in a cup full of dirt and watch the magic over time.
- Have a mindful discussion. Create a round of Q&A with your kids to learn more about their thoughts. Everyone can write down a question for the whole group – silly or serious – and put them all in a jar. Each person draws one and asks aloud.
- Go to the library.
- Crab walk. Who can go the fastest?
- Go for a swim. At the beach, in a lake or – if it's cold outside – the heated community pool.
- Play “I Spy.” Always fun, inside or out!
- Go for a walk. Yes, even if it's cold. Take the effort to get bundled up and see some sky, even if it's just for a few minutes.
- Animal charades. Each kid thinks of an animal and acts it out until the other participants guess what it is.
- Play with food. Make fruit skewers, or see who can come up with the most inventive popcorn flavor. You don't need a full-blown kitchen for most healthy snack foods.
- Have a dance party. Pump it up, then pause it and have everyone “freeze” every 30 seconds or so.
- Play Two Truths and a Lie. The old college frat favorite is actually a blast with kids. Each person takes turns saying three statements. Two are true and one is a lie. Everyone else tries to guess what's real and what's not.
- Indoor bowling. Set up some old water bottles and take turns trying to knock them down with a soft ball.
- Bat a balloon back-and-forth. Balloons can come in handy for so many entertaining ideas, we always have some on-hand – even in our travel bags.
- Make shadow pets with a flashlight or lamp pointed at the wall, moving your hands into various shapes.
- Hula hoop. Hours of entertainment.
- Build a fort. At hotels, they have all those extra sheets and pillows in the closet just begging to be used.
- Hopscotch. If you're indoors, you just need some painter's tape to set up the track.
- Have a scavenger hunt.
- Build something with clay. A mixture of 40% flour, 40% water and 20% salt is totally pliable. If you don't have those, equal parts shaving cream and cornstarch can also work. The staff at hotel restaurants are usually happy to help.
- Screen your favorite childhood movie. Your kids may either be totally into it, or tease you endlessly for your weird cinematic taste.
- Bean-bag toss. Use a roll of socks for the bean bag, and a trash can for the goal.
- Fold paper airplanes.
- Cut up sponges and use them as blocks. Find out if they can still stack when we!. Yes, our room had sponges in it and yes, we did this.
- Write a letter. To Santa, to the teacher, to a friend…
- Tape a toilet paper or paper towel roll to the wall above a wastebasket. Laugh giddily and enjoy five minutes to yourself as the kids try to see how many things they can drop through the roll and land in the basket.
- Jump on the bed. We like to pull the mattress onto the floor and bounce, bounce, bounce our hearts out.
- Play “memory.” Show the group a tray full of eight or nine items for 30 seconds. Then, give them 2 minutes to write down as many items as they can remember.
- Build an obstacle course. String tape between hallway wall and let them belly-crawl underneath, or lay out a bunch of pillows on the ground with intermittent spots of floor uncovered. They have to navigate to the other side and if they step on a pillow, they're out!
- Measure how far each person can jump. Mark that distance with a piece of tape on the wall and see how it coordinates to each person's height.
- Pillow fight.
- Masking tape bulls-eye. Create a target on the ground with masking tape and have your kids take turns seeing who can roll a small ball or toy car closest to the center.
- Puppet show. Big cardboard box + a pair of socks = winning.
What are your favorite all-weather healthy family activities?