It’s winter. I heard there was a huge snow storm in a bunch of places around the country. I assume that when it’s really snowy and cold out, it’s probably pretty difficult to go outside. If you have preschoolers or toddlers and you are trapped in your house, I’m sorry. That must be terrible. It rained here for about four hours in the morning last week and I seriously thought about moving. Then I thought, no, that won’t work, the kids will just unpack all the boxes right after I pack them. And they might shove me into one of the boxes and tape me up inside. Then I thought, wait, that doesn’t sound so bad actually…but no, they'd probably get inside the box with me, tape us all up together somehow, and we’d be stuck in there forever.
If the rainy morning wasn’t bad enough, it got really cold a few days later. It was like 34 degrees. I seriously considered moving again because I live in Florida for only two reasons: (1) I was born here and (2) I can go outside 365 days a year in a t-shirt and shorts. That’s the entire list. There are literally no other reasons to live in Florida. I felt a little betrayed by my home state. If reason #2 was out the window, moving was definitely back on the table. Then I remembered the box scenario and I gave up.
Since moving wasn’t going to work, I came up with some alternatives. Here are a few indoor games you can play with your little ones. I think you’ll find they can help you survive a moderately cold morning or rainy few hours.
1. Jumping over Random Toys and Junk on the Floor
Goal: There isn’t one.
How to Win: You can’t win.
How to Play: Start in the dining room. Hop on two feet or one foot or just kind of walk around and step over things while scrolling through your Facebook feed. Obstacles you might encounter include: a stuffed duck that quacks Jingle Bells, an action figure, seven blocks, a remote control car turned upside down, a pair of underwear, a dog/kid squeak toy, one shoe, and three different stretches of toy train tracks that don’t go anywhere and don’t connect to anything. Beware of the train tracks because you have to hop or step back and forth across them in a specific pattern. If you don’t follow the correct pattern, you have to start over in the dining room. There is no correct pattern. Once you complete the course, keep going. There is no such thing as completing the course.
2. Jumping over Paper Bags Lined Up on the Floor
Goal: Similar to Game #1.
How to Win: You’ve already lost.
How to Play: Go in your pantry and take out all the paper bags that are haphazardly folded up and crumpled on the floor. You should have about twenty-five or so––at least one from every restaurant within three miles of your house and about eight from Chipotle because you’ve been hoarding burritos in case they go out of business soon. Lay the bags down flat on the floor in a line about a foot apart. Start at one end, hop over each bag until you reach the other end. Don’t step on any of the bags unless you want to. Repeat until one player collapses from exhaustion or boredom or both players wander off somewhere.
3. Jumping over Paper Bags Lined Up on the Floor While Pushing the White Button
Goal: Similar to Game #2, but more hopeless.
How to Win: Everyone is a winner (or a loser, depending on your perspective).
How to Play: Initial set-up and game play is identical to Game #2 but each time you step over a bag you have to make a decisive downward button pushing motion with your hand and a “whoink” sound with your mouth as if pushing an imaginary white button that makes a “whoink” sound when pressed. When you reach the bag with sparkles on it, instead of stepping or hopping over it, stomp directly on it instead. Do not press the white button. You will not learn this rule until after you’ve passed the bag with sparkles on it. Start over at the beginning. This time, don’t stomp on the bag with sparkles on it. Press the white button. You will not learn this rule until after you’ve stomped on the bag with sparkles on it. Start over. This time, I don’t know. Repeat.
4. Pretending to Get Kicked in the Face, Tossed to the Floor, or Otherwise Maimed
Goal: Have you not been paying attention?
How to Win: Fall to the floor without suffering any debilitating injuries. Don’t actually get kicked in the face or otherwise maimed.
How to Play: Stand at attention in the center of your living room or next to the microwave. Pretend to be caught off guard when your kid grabs you by the shirt and spins you into the wall or counter. Spin and tumble theatrically across the room, slam your hand against the wall or counter to make a loud thud, and clutch at your face in agony. While your kid is cracking up, rest for a moment to prepare for rounds two through two thousand. Alternatively, sit on a chair while your child sits on a chair or overturned box directly in front of you. Lean forward to do something on the floor for some reason. When an undersized foot starts hurtling towards your eyes, jump back into your chair, snap your neck back, and pretend to bang your head. Melt down onto the floor while clutching the back of your head and crying out, “Why me?!?!” Repeat until you start to wonder whether actually being kicked in the face might be more enjoyable. Feel free to mix it up by alternating between the sitting and standing game play variations. Mixing it up is not allowed.
5. Steering Your Dreamliner Through Freezing Cold, Crocodile and Shark Infested Waters
Goal: To kill time.
How to Win: If everyone falls asleep, everyone wins. If you fall asleep, but not the kids, it’s a tie. If only the kids fall asleep, yeah right, LOL.
How to Play: Lie face down on the bed and pile all the covers on top of you. Have your kids sit on the back of your head, lower back, knees, and feet (depending on how many kids you have…if you have enough to fill up all those spots, OMG, what were you thinking?). Instruct the kids to steer the Dreamliner to safety. Remind them that there are crocodiles and sharks in the water and that the water is freezing cold, so they can’t get off the bed unless there is a fire or they need to get juice or something. Deliver the instructions before you mount the bed because they won’t be able to hear you buried under the covers with your face smashed into the mattress by a 4-year-old bottom. Continue game play for like an hour and a half or so or until someone wins (see above).
6. Hungry, Hungry Hippos
Goal: Make your hippo “eat” as many marbles as possible by smashing the lever on its back as fast and as hard as you can.
How to Win: If you’re playing with a 4-year-old, you better not win. If you do, you lose.
How to Play: Put the marbles in the center of the game board. Choose a hippo. Smash the lever on the back of your hippo maniacally for like three seconds. Put the marbles back into the middle of the game board. Repeat until the lever on your hippo breaks or your soul dies.
**Note: Some of these games were invented by my 4-year-old, some by me, and some by Hasbro.**