I'm talking time-consuming projects, or ones that you can come back to in stages -- bread, pizza dough, muffins and the like. Last week we even tested a recipe for my upcoming book on green kitchens and food by making truly local pasta -- farmers' market eggs, flour from Wild Hive, and New York City tap water. We didn't use any equipment -- we hand kneaded and rolled, and were quite delighted with the results. Our only gripe is we didn't make enough. If the youngest kids are dying to get in on the action but are hindering rather than helping, give them their own flour and water mixture to play with while you make the real deal. If you have machines, use them all -- make smoothies, bread, dry fruit into fruit rolls, make ice cream, pop popcorn and flavor it several different ways etc. etc.
We made necklaces and bracelets strung with everything from shells we have collected on the beach to beads from old necklaces of mine that have fallen apart, pieces of cardboard, and fabric from old t-shirts and the like.
One glue stick and one bottle of safe glue from the newly opened and glorious Green Depot flagship plus scissors, cardboard boxes from the recycling bin, old wrapping paper, ribbons, and other odds and ends equals hours and hours of collage fun. Sides of large boxes make excellent big "canvases." When the glue stick isn't quite capturing the attention span the way you'd like it to, bust out the glue and a paintbrush, and have the tots "paint" the glue into swirls, and sprinkle the paper etc. on top.
All of the furniture can also be fashioned from cardboard items. Don't have dollhouse people? Use blocks.
Use this opportunity to try on any spring/summer hand-me-downs the kids might be about to grow into. Once they hit the bathing suits, pretend you're all swimming. Goggles optional. And/or, if you haven't already, let the kids in your closet. My daughter recently found some of my high heels -- a relic of my former non-mom life, which I really almost never wear any more. She thought they were so hilarious, we spent an hour or more trying on all of my old shoes. It's not exactly the most original suggestion, but the novelty paid off.
Plant window box herbs, or start things you'll later move outside, if you have the space.
Take a bath in the middle of the day, with bathing suits on. Why not?
Older kids can be enlisted to make up and record whole stories. Have younger kids sing all the songs they know. Or record messages to grandparents.
It's what the weather is calling for, anyway. There never seems to be enough time to read to the kids anyway -- pile in with a stack of books and stay put for a while.
Fasten quarters on the bottoms of your shoes and stomp.
When it snows, you gear up and go play outdoors, why not do the same when it rains? Put on all of your most waterproof items and go jump in puddles.
Go to the library, an indoor market, a local museum, out for tea, or to any local spot that will let you linger dry and warm in exchange for minimal cash outlay.
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