The good days are coming. You know the ones I’m talking about. The sunny, warm days. Days where you can take the kiddos to the playground, splash around in the backyard baby pool, and play with sidewalk chalk.
But those days aren’t here yet, and it’s been a long, cold, and gray winter. With a two-year-old and ten-month-old, I’ve had to get creative with ways to keep days entertaining.
I used to be artsy-craftsy, but somewhere along the way, around college when I got into sports, I lost my creative side.
Having kids changed that, like it changes most things. My kids have plenty of things to play with, but even the most battery-packed, animated toys can lose their excitement after a while and I can only take so much Paw Patrol- two episodes is plenty for me. So one day, I decided to try a Pinterest craft – water bottles filled with baby oil, water, and food coloring.
I’ll spare you photos, but it did not go well. My only success was to fill an old nursing bottle with half water and half canola oil which my baby boy got a decent amount of entertainment from. Not to be dissuaded, I searched Pinterest for ideas that were impressive looking, but deceptively easy… ones that looked ambitious, but really… let’s just say I could handle them easily.
The winner was dyed rice. It looked relatively straightforward and I already had most of the ingredients. Some variations used spaghetti or even chick peas, but rice seemed easier and with the smallest chance of being a choking hazard. I purchased two 5-pound bags of rice and, while my son was napping, my daughter and I set out on our project. I divided the rice between five 1-gallon bags. In a small bowl I mixed two tablespoons of vinegar with about 30 drops of food coloring then poured the mix into a bag, sealed it, shook it and mushed it around until the dye was evenly distributed, and opened it to dry overnight. I repeated it for the other four bags.
They turned out so well and my daughter loves playing with it; she even left Paw Patrol mid-episode to come play. She had a fantastic time simply playing with undyed white rice, measuring spoons, and Tupperware containers, but it was fun to watch all the colors mix together to a great hodgepodge of confetti.
Next I tried my hand at “calm down bottles.” Also pretty simple, you combine hot water, 1/3 to 1/2 container of glitter glue (I used Elmer’s), food coloring, and whatever glitter your heart desires in a water bottle and give it a really good shake to combine. Ba-bam! My son is mesmerized.
After that, my crafty ambitions waned greatly, and I mostly stick with the simpler things I know. Magnets on a cookie sheet, taping sheets of construction paper to the floor for a giant coloring mat, filling a spray bottle with water and vinegar and letting my daughter go to town on the kitchen cabinets. This one pulls double duty. She LOVES it and it cleans my kitchen. It’s a real win-win situation!
While I may never be a super crafty Pinterest mom, there are still plenty of low-key ways to entertain my kiddos on those cold, dreary days that don’t involve toys or television. We still play with the rice on a regular basis.
And if all else fails, my kids are fascinated by (clean, unopened) Kotex. I can’t explain it, but my husband has walked in from work on one or two occasions to a living room full of colorfully wrapped tampons.
Like I said, having kids changes everything.