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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

6 Ideas for Sibling Fun Indoors

Welcome to the November 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Indoor Play This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared ideas and inspiration to keep families happy and healthy while cooped up indoors. ***

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I want them to love each other. 
I want them to understand each other.
I want them to learn from each other. 
I want them to solve their interpersonal problems. 
I want them to reach out to each other and be there when needed. 
I want them to be important to one another.
I want them to get along, forever. 

For now, I want them to play together for twelve minutes, peacefully. That's a good start. Right? 

Here are our favorite indoor activities. With winter knocking on our door, these activities help us make the transition from being outside all day long to being inside for most of the day (we still try to get outside for at least a few hours). Some of these activities are kid initiated and some of them have been drawn up by me. All of these activities are ones that engage both Babe-O (4) and Babe-ala (19 mo) mostly at the same time! 

The following activities are completely kid initiated. 

Because of that, you can probably do these activities right now with items you already have. And you can probably back away from the fun that will ensue and let siblings have a fun, safe, loving time together without you (which can be oh, so lovely). These activities are all about letting them be together. They created them, so I try to get out of the way. I do some minimal refereeing because these games can involve some roughhousing (one of the best ways for them to bond). 

Paper Towel Towers

We buy our paper products from a warehouse. I hate it. But it's most economical for a family of 5 and counting. We store the paper towels under a bed and one day Babe-O pulled them all out into the hallway and started stacking them. Babe-ala (a.k.a. The Wrecking Ball) decided to do what she does best...knock ‘em down. Hilarity ensured. Now they build together. Babe-ala gathers and Babe-O stacks. Babe-ala will even wait to see how tall it will get before she inevitably gets first dibs on knocking it down. This has also recently involved using toilet paper that is packaged in 6 roll packs. We now also get to have Paper Towel Igloos and forts.  

Baby/ Ride-On Races

This is a super-fast paced game (forgive all the blurry pictures) and usually takes place early in the morning or very late at night. I have to hold my breath most all the time. It's rough. But I have never heard such loud, joyful, belly laughing coming from either of them alone. They strap the babies into Babe-ala's buggies and chase each other down the hallway. Sometimes Babe-O will use a ride-on. Sometimes they just run without the buggy or ride on. There is no competition here they just call it a race. It usually ends in crashes, occasionally bumps and bruises, or several rounds of Ring around the Rosie when Babe-ala decides she needs a break from all the running. 

Watch out for the Jellyfish - Jump Around the World Game!


For Christmas we acquired a large  Children's Map of the World. It has been hanging on the playroom wall for the better part of the year. It is treasured and well used. It has many little interesting pictures all over it, which inspire trips to the library and Internet searches for things we want to know more about (for example, we now know that if you get a jellyfish sting you should pour vinegar on the sting. Who knew?)

Since part of the appeal has been jumping on the bed while studying the map on the wall, it has come off the wall several times and suffered many little rips and tears. One day the map was lying on the living room floor so jumping on the map was the natural and next step in exploring the world! This is probably my favorite kid initiated activity because it is so darn educational. The possibilities for play are unlimited. (We have driven vehicles around the world and played jump around in the dark with flashlights). The adventure stories Babe-O puts together are rich and creative. Babe-ala is captivated by all the little pictures and is familiar with the difference between land and water on a map.  And whenever anyone gets stung by a jellyfish there is always pretend vinegar on hand! 


The following activities are Mom-O invented.

I have tried to put a new spin on some old favorites. When the days are short and the nights are long, "the witching hour" seems so much more pronounced to me. You know that time of day: when everyone is hungry but dinner is not ready, everyone is tired of being together all day long but no one wants to do their own thing, and it seems like all we are doing is waiting for Diet Coke Papa to get home and provide us with some relief and entertainment. If I have something planned for this time it seems to pass more smoothly. These activities make our old toys feel like new ones and I love that feeling!  

Glowing Magformers 

It is getting dark here around 5:30. So that gives us more time for glow in the dark fun. Babe-O and Babe-ala both love Magformers . Babe-ala has loved playing with these since she was 9 months old. They are magnetic building pieces. And we recently discovered, after having a few in the bath tub during a glow bath, that they glow in the blacklight.

Question: What could be better than a glowing house on wheels made of Magformers 
Answer: Glow In The Dark Dinosaurs that live in it! A double decker truck that the dinosaurs can ride in! Emergency vehicles with flashing lights arrive to the scene of a fire and help the dinosaurs escape the flames!
(Anything that is made of glow in the dark material will be super glowy in a black light.)

Play in the Dark! 
Dude! It's hard to take pictures in the dark! 

One day we were playing with a few of our many toys (construction and emergency vehicles) that have flashing lights on them, it occurred to me that we could turn off the lights! And then I thought, "So that's what all the flashing toys are good for!" Everyone seems to give us toys with lights on or in them. It never occurred to me to play in the dark. I spent some time gathering up everything that lights up and some flashlights. Some of our old toys became new again!  We actually had the most fun experimenting with shadows. Simple, easy, fun! 

Bedroom Playground

Our house is very small (1200 sq. ft, 5  people, soon to be 7 people. Small is an understament). Our bedrooms are in the basement. So we don't spend a lot of time in them during the day. Mostly because we really enjoy the light of day! Also, it has been allegedly reported that some monsters may be using our basement as a hangout. But when the monster repellant is strong enough and Vitamin-D and courage is running thick we go down to the playground in Babe-O's bedroom.

Our swing is too big for this small space but it doesn't stop us from singing swing songs and pushing each other until we have the dizzies. Our bunk bed isn't quite a bunk bed yet, but the bars are perfect for monkeying around.

This swing is also really great snuggling up with a blanket and reading in or listening to audio books on chilly days! 

There you have it!
Our best indoor play activities for staying warm and beating cabin fever.  
Hope some of 'em are best for you and your little ones! 

Here's to playing well over the upcoming winter season! 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon November 11 with all the carnival links.)


  1. One of the kids' favorite activities is glow in the dark hide and seek - either looking for each other, or looking for toys that I've hidden around the room. Love your ideas!!

  2. Great idea! Sounds so fun! We are gonna try that out!

  3. I love the ideas for using the dark to our advantage! We all tend to get so disoriented by the early nights around this time of year, and we also have way too many glow-y toys, so I'll be sure to combine the two now! You're making me want to buy a black light, too!

    Also, not to be too misery-loves-company, but I'm always glad to hear of another family making it work in a small space. :)

    1. Hi Lauren! I encourage the purchase of black lights... they are just so groovy! And I like company - thanks for the "hobbit hole" support!

      Also, congrats on your beautiful new baby!

  4. So great to hear how a small home can still be a playground or race track when the need arises. Really encouraging, especially as another mini-house dweller who intends to house all her future brood within these walls!!

    1. Glad to be a part of the teeny tiny house club!
      And glad you found some encouragment here. It's easy to find the space to do the fun things we love - hard to find the time (and energy) to keep on top of the big mess that accumulates in such a small space - still working on that!

  5. I've only got one kid, but some of these ideas are fantastic for me to play with him! Or maybe as ideas for when we are having playdates. I like that you encourage (or at least allow) your kids to be rowdy indoors. On a cold day when you can't/won't go outside, they've got to get their energy out somehow. :)

    1. I am so happy you found something fun to try out. Happy playing to you and your babe! Thanks for commenting!