Living in a camper the last 18 months has had its advantages and disadvantages. Many I have chronicled for you here. Along the way, I have had several people come up to me and ask a multitude of questions that range from “how do you find the time to workout?” to “How do you not murder each other in such a small space?” Well, as I have reiterated a few times, I am not truly sure how we haven’t murdered each other or in the very least divorced. Gods will? Patience? Love? I can not say but one thing I can say is we have developed several habits/tricks to keep the boys entertained when the weather doesn’t permit us to go outside and wear off some energy. Below are the 5 ways we keep the kids entertained in a small space.
- Hidden Toys – Since we moved here, I didn’t know what to expect other than the few things I had read on the internet about cabin fever in the winter. I’m not sure I truly believed those stories and admissions. (It only took days to understand though lol) We moved into the camper in February 2016. The weekend we moved, Missouri had a particularly cold and sudden ice storm. So Surprise to us when we got here and our pipes froze first night. (Read more on that nightmare in “The Beginning” post) That was the first night of many that we would spend endless hours in the camper. And though it has gotten better, I learned then that the attention span of my toddlers was entirely too small. Those first few months were awful. It was too cold to go outside and the boys were littler, I was afraid they would get sick. That summer I decided to hide toys such as play do, legos, board games, anything little and engaging for a rainy day. Literally it seems. And any day that is too cold or wet to enjoy.
- Crayons, Markers and Paper are your friend – Every parent knows that little kids love to draw, color and get messy. Having art supplies on hand at all times, has kept me sane. We all know that kids have a small attention span so being able to switch up the activities on a day inside is a must. Sitting down and drawing a season picture, practicing letters and writing you name, is an engaging activity that has due purposes. Getting the boys ready for school has always been a priority and a worry in the back of my mind. So being able to come up with an excuse to spend time on it is awesome. Rainy days and cold days are the days we have used to further their knowledge and make it a fun learning experience.
Music is Life – I love music. All kinds of music depending on my mood for the day. Thankfully, I can say that love has rubbed off on the boys. When TV gets monotonous, movies get boring and all the toys have been played with, I break out the radio and we have surprise dance parties. We all dance around the camper, laugh and sing.It gives us a reason to move and get some built up energy out. A small space doesn’t mean you can get up and dance. Dancing takes a minimal effort. Doesn’t have to be serious or good. Kids don’t care, all they see is you are trying to have fun with them.
- Movies days are a dream – Not everyday can be a movie day when there is no end in sight to the quaritine. On those long, cold and boring days of winter, I like to make each day a surprise. Each day is different and it keeps the boys questioning and curious. So when I throw out that it is a PJ and movie day they get excited. I make it special. They each get to pick a movie to watch. I turn our couch into a bed, place a bunch of pillows and blankets into a “nest” around it, put a movie on, make popcorn and put little marshmallows in it because that’s what the boys like in their popcorn. By just being there with them watching their favorite movies with them, it allows us to bond, cuddle and enjoy the day without getting too bored. Don’t think they just sit for hours. It just doesn’t happen, thats when we get up and have a dance break, or wrestle or tickle until they can’t breath. Its family, Its home and its full of love.
- Being silly is Key –The last thing we do, is we are silly. As often as possible, not only is it entertaining to the boys, it teaches them not to be too serious all the time. It is okay to be dorky, nerdy, goofy and silly. Being silly doesn’t require a special toy, activity or much thought. It is a way to pass the time without having to spend a ton of money or have a bunch of people around. Laughter is contagious and if a person is laughing they don’t focus on the things they don’t have, or things to play with.
All of the above are ways we have kept our kids entertained in the small space of the camper. That being said, it is okay for them to be bored sometimes. I am NOT going to entertain them all the time or even provide activities every second of every day. Being bored is not a bad thing. It teaches us to appreciate the calm and quiet. It’s a bit of a blessing. It allows us to use the extra time to develop our brains an accept the fact that life isn’t always entertaining or engaging. We as adults, sometimes forget that. We forget how to be content with ourselves and our lives. We fill it full of so much crap and things to do that we wake up some mornings and wonder where the time has gone. Imagination grows in the boredom. That is where magic occurs, builds and explodes. I remember as a kid, the best times we ever had, came from a moment of boredom. We made our own fun. That is what I want my boys to learn. Tablets, tv and games take up the time but rob us of our imagination. My boys do get to play with all of those but for limited amounts of time. I hope you enjoyed and maybe even will use this list in a future situation. Good luck and enjoy the time we have now, someday it will all be gone.