Here are six ways to keep your kids entertained indoors:
1. Prep some easy crafts.
Take the time to prep a few easy and fun ones now. Just make sure you do neat ones—the last thing you need is a clean-up mess on top of everything else. Some ideas: paper dolls—you cut them out now, your kids color them later; homemade books—you staple plain paper together now, your kids use them to keep storm journals later. You can also collect a few magazines that can be used to cut and paste into collages. Need more ideas? Here are five creative projects you can do with your kids.
2. Put together an "Activity Pack."
Make sure you have plenty of craft supplies (paper, glue sticks, crayons, scissors) as well as games (cards, board games, jacks, marbles) and Play-Doh or modeling clay if your kids are old enough to use this without constant supervision.
3. Find a few good books.
Look for some old favorites your kids can rediscover, or take a quick look in your home and see if there are some that would be new to them. If your kids are old enough to read on their own, a few engrossing books could be a sanity-saver for everyone. And, kids always love to hear a story you make up, especially from your own childhood. Don't forget to be a storyteller.
4. Locate the loveys.
Make sure all plush friends and other lovey's are easy to find—even if your child doesn't usually use one, this may be a time she may suddenly want an old forgotten stuffed companion. Make sure special dolls and stuffed animals are easily accessible.
5. Clean your closet.
Have some dress-up clothes ready, even for older children, who can use these for costumes and put on a play for the family. My kids love to do this with their friends, and will spend hours writing the script, creating the Playbill, and arranging all the chairs in the house into audience seating, in addition to putting on the featured production.
6. Enjoy being electricity-free.
Even though this is easier said then done, make the most of a chance to enjoy time away from the TV, computer, and video games. Make life by candlelight and/or flashlight fun. Have a candlelight picnic with plenty of snacks that require no preparation, and eat off of disposable plastic or paper dishware. Make hand-shadow puppets—there are plenty of ideas available online, including this great video teaching how to do a dog, swan, and bunny rabbit. The site Shadow-Puppets.com has some fantastic old-timey hand-shadow puppets, too.
Last but not least, encourage your kids to use their imaginations and make their own fun—they can pretend they're camping, at the beach, hiking a mountain, or even at school.
What other ideas do you have? I have three kids under the age of 8, so I need all the help I can get!