Saturday, April 20, 2024

10 Indoor Activities For The Cold & Tired

Getting out of the house with small children is notoriously hard. It’s even harder in the cold when they have to be bundled into a million layers (but not in the car seat, because safety) and are allergic to both gloves and simultaneously/frustratingly to even very mildly chilly fingers.

It’s harder still when you are bone-deep tired.

That’s pretty much a feature of winter for lots of people – whether it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, party season, or just a loooooong half term.

(This year I’m extra tired because it turns out emotional turmoil and break-ups are pretty exhausting, and also seem to be playing havoc with my already dicky thyroid).

The only thing harder than going out when you’re running on zero – in terms of both energy and degrees centigrade – is STAYING IN.

Especially staying in with over-excited, over-tired, chocolate-maddened, Santa-feverish children.

In case this rings a bell (jingle, of course), I have put together a list of my top 10 low-effort things to do indoors with children in December!


  1. Tattoo parlours

So you’ve exhausted all colouring based activities. Don’t reach for the glitter! (Things are not yet that bad – and they probably never will be, I promise).

Instead, change the canvas! Get out the felt tips, roll up your leggings and let the kids play tattoo parlours! You get to lie down on the carpet and rest your eyes while the kids go to work.

Tip tips:

  • Don’t actually go to sleep, or the children will soon tire of your legs and start on each other’s faces/the cat. School and nursery will not be impressed. Neither will the cat.
  • Also, don’t do this if you want to wear any hosiery below 100 denier any time in the next 2 weeks.
  • Finally, please don’t judge my weird alien toes and saggy old lady knees in this picture. Cheers. 

  1. Colour pouring

Every kid loves a bit of pouring! Invest in some cheap paper party cups for novelty pouring value, and some food colouring. Lay out a big beach towel, and let them pour to their little hearts’ content.

Your role here is to sit in the sofa and accept cups of tea – which will get increasingly browner and more tea-like as the activity goes on.

Top tips:

  • Add in a till and other stuffed toy customers to create a cafe.
  • The trick here is to limit the volumes of water. You don’t need loads, because pretty colours, kids!
  • Also, just forget about your carpet. You’ve got small children – write it off. You can have nice things in another 5 years or so. Maybe. Though by that time the cat will be so traumatised and elderly it will start pissing on everything … Okay, look, you’ll wait until they’ve all left home (one way or another).


  1. Toy washing

Like the above really, but with bubbles. Let them wash all hard toys, and provide old toothbrushes and cloths to help.

Wash tangled Barbie hair with cheap conditioner and encourage them to open a hairdressing salon afterwards. (Brushing takes hours).

Top tip:

  • Turn up the heating and dress them in swimming costumes.


  • There will be wet patches. Roll with it. (Kitchen roll).


  1. Let them raid your make-up

Look, your make-up is shite. You’ve had it for years, some of it is almost certainly out of date, and it ain’t hiding the wrinkles anyway.

Take out the few bits you use everyday and abandon them to the rest. It’s nothing a bath can’t fix – and will keep them happy for hours. Plus you get to ask relatives for new stuff for Christmas! Think Elizabeth Earle rather than No 17! Life goals!

Top tips:

  • To be administered on a plastic tablecloth! (Although this still won’t save your doomed carpet. Sorry).
  • If you are feeling very brave (or very tired) let them do your make-up too (lying down). Then take funny selfies so you feel like a good parent. Then put them on Facebook so you feel like a really REALLY good parent.


  1. Play dates

Stay indoors, but at someone else’s house!


They have different toys, and hopefully tea and biscuits. And they have children your children can play with without involving you!!!! (Either that or the combination of children will prove so awful and feral that you will constantly be breaking up fights and be forced to leave early. Still, it’s a day out).

Top tip:

  • Invite yourself round on the pretext of  just ‘dropping off some Christmas presents’. If you all then stand at the door looking hopeful and in need of tea, very few British people will turn you away. Exploit this weakness!


  • They may return the visit!!!!


  1. Doctors and nurses

When you’re next in Tesco, pop by the medicine aisle for some new plasters and bandages. I reckon if you do some sort of comedy fall and lie moaning on the sofa you can get a good 25 minutes of horizontal time while you are poked and prodded and bandaged.

Tip tip:

  • You may have to fall out if bed once or twice to extend your hospital stay – this is a small price to pay.


  1. Christmas Eve

Get in some Christmas practice by playing Santa! Bring duvets and pillows downstairs to make beds, and take it in turns to be Father Christmas delivering presents. Assemble odds and ends and small toys which can be deposited in stockings (or – lazy option – the socks you’re wearing) and opened with delight and wonder over and over and over again. And again.

Top tips:

  • Try and be the person asleep in bed as much as possible as it involves lying down, obvs.
  • Try not to poke your own eyes out at the sheer monotony of imaginative play.
  • Add in the afternoon snack (wrapped in cling film) when it’s your go as Santa.


  1. Christmas pass the parcel

This is a sitter, not a lie-er. Wrap random small stuff in layers of muslins and assemble favourite stuffed toys in a circle. Go.

Tip tips:

  • Place any naughty toys who aren’t taking turns sharing on the naughty step. Hours of disciplining fun for their Small Person owners!
  • Extend the party to include musical statues and knackered-parenting classic SLEEPING LIONS.


  1. Christmas cards

You cannot get through Christmas without crap craft. Sorry. But if you make cards (still no glitter!) the crap craft has to leave your house and go and live elsewhere! Result!

Top tip:

  • Take it with you when you execute no 5. Then they’ll defo be obliged to put the kettle on.


  1. Hide and seek

Kids are rubbish at both hiding and seeking (at least mine are), so you have the natural advantage of the field.

Top tips:

  • Lie down flat in any bed at any given opportunity and get in a few minutes duvet time.
  • Sit on the sofa for a bit describing your detailed seeking activity, without actually doing it. (Let’s face it, you already know where they are and can probably see them). Every rest-second counts.


If all else fails you’re just going to have to watch a Ceebeebies panto. Again.

Good luck in there parents!

Remember, very soon every day will be getting a little bit lighter. (But not warmer. Bummer).




This post was first published here. For more from Sheffield’s finest click here, there and everywhere.

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