Saving Your Sanity During Bad Weather by Patty

My kids always do better and stay more regulated when we are able to play outside and get some good exercise. This is especially true of Danny, my 7 year old, who is a sensory seeker. The activities that calm him the best are ones that incorporate a lot of heavy lifting or deep pressure, like swimming, bicycling, and riding his Razor scooter. These are all great activities.

In the summer.

But as we live in the Midwest, Fall and Winter often bring weather that prohibits outdoor activity. There is a big difference in Danny’s behavior and mood when we stay inside too much, and especially when we watch too many videos. Over the years, I have come up with several activities that we can do indoors which give my kids lots of good exercise.

Perhaps some of them might work for you and your children.

Get outside when you can
Though it can be pretty cold in the winters here in Illinois, we still try to get the kids outside as much as possible. I know it often takes longer to get them dressed for the weather than they actually spend outside, but it is worth it. Any fun snow activities are good for giving kids deep pressure, like building a snow man, having a snowball fight or making snow angels. Just walking in the snow gives kids lots of good resistance.

Scooter board races in the house
We have 3 scooter boards and often have races in the kitchen (where there is no carpeting and plenty of space). There are so many fun activities you can do with scooter boards, and they are relatively inexpensive.

Here is an article with specific scooter board activities you can do inside.

Let the kids do some typically outdoor activities inside.
I have been known to let the kids roller skate, play ball, and even ride a small bike in the house.If you have the room, and especially if you are lucky enough to have a basement, you may want to consider allowing your kids to take their outdoor games indoors for the winter.

Use cushions, pillows and blankets for sensory fun
Have your kids build big forts themselves. My kids take the cushions off the couch and make forts or pretend birthday cakes with them. Lugging all those heavy pillows around is great heavy work for the kids. They also make towers out of the cushions, climb up and sit while I rock the cushions, which works on balance and core muscles.

Do the laundry
Let your kids help you with chores around the house. My kids often enjoy helping with laundry, which provides many opportunities for heavy work. I have let the kids load and unload the washer and dryer. They also sometimes help me hang up clothes on a drying rack.
And my daughter especially enjoys helping fold the laundry, which is great for motor skills. And it’s fun, too.

Obstacle courses
The great thing about obstacle courses is their versatility.
You could set up an obstacle course once a day
for months and not have the same one twice. Also, you can customize them to your children and their sensory needs. For example, if I want my son to get some deep pressure so he
can calm down, I use the trampoline and have Danny jump on it 10 times and then jump into an enormous pile of cushions and blankets.

You can use tunnels, scooter boards, exercise balls, even something as simple as a chair (that the child can jump off of. Just be sure to have cushions or padding for the child to jump into.) Kiddie pools are great for tactile activities. In this picture, we filled the pool with leaves and the kids jumped into it. But for an indoor activity, the kids could sit in the pool and play with dried beans, shaving cream or even sand.

Ice Skating
This activity, taken from Carol Kranowitz, is a real crowd pleaser. All you need is some big plastic disposable plates and kids who are ready to have fun. The kids use the plates on an uncarpeted floor to ice skate around the room. You can vary it and make it a game by playing music. When the music stops, the kids have to freeze.

Indoor Snow ball fight
Take scrap paper or old newspapers and magazines and let the kids make “snow balls” out of them and have a big snowball fight.

It's tough when the weather prohibits outdoor play, but with a little creativity on your part and a great helping of tolerance of messes, you can come up with all kinds of fun activities to do indoors that meet your kids needs.

In fact, I would love to hear any ideas or activities that have been successful with your kids! Please share!

For more great ideas for sensory activities, click here.


Anonymous said...

I love it! We've been struggling with this this week - the weather hasn't been snowy but ridiculously cold for dec in New England. Love the indoor snowball fight!
I have to get me some scooter boards...
great post Patty!!

Anonymous said...

We have a giant "snow ball fight" every Christmas, with the wrapping paper we pull off of our gifts...

Jenn said...

My kids also tend to be sensory seekers. One of their favourtie indoor activities is to ride their sleeping bags down the carpeted stairs. They are nylon on the outside but with slightly more padding than a pillow case. My kids LOVE this and they are 7, 12, and almost 14!

Caitlin Wray said...

Great post Patty! I'm going to make an indoor obstacle course part of our daily sensory work - great idea. Also stealing the sleeping bag stairs idea too! My son has a 'ready bed' that would work great for that!


Patty O. said...

Thanks! Jenn, I LOVE your stair, sleeping bag idea. My kids would totally dig that! If we ever move to a house where we have stairs we'll have to try it!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I appreciate having more options. I'm w/Alysia. New England weather is horrifically unpredictable, so more things in your bags of tricks is definitely a plus. :)