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making fun in the dark

Posted Nov 03 2009 10:01pm

(We are reposting this from last year. We thought all our new readers might benefit from this.)

The end to daylight’s saving time always offers a challenge to moms. For those of us who tend to migrate outside in the evenings to help pass the witching hours, darkness at 5 p.m. means we either have to park the kids in front of the TV sooner or be a little more creative.

I have to remember that it’s never as bad as our northern friends have it where it gets dark--and I mean pitch dark as early as 3 p.m. (dawn is usually around 9 a.m.) Only six hours of a daylight can be difficult and throw off your whole mental well-being. I took away a few things from my year in Sweden where I saw kids go to school and come home in the dark.

Here are a few ideas to help bring the fun indoors (or even outside) during the dark.

--With small kids (who still nap), see if you can play with naptime a bit and put kids down for a nap earlier in the day so you still have daylight on the other end of it. Waking up at 3 p.m. can still give you two hours or so of potential sunlight to play outside.

--Get your craft supplies ready. Our house is doing inventory on the playdough, markers, coloring books, stickers, beads, paints, foam crafts, etc. It helps if you can have them all in ‘see-thru’ bins near your kitchen/dining room. Mine are in a separate cabinet labeled and ready to play with and put back easily. If everything is right there at your fingertips you can go through all the crafts in one session sometimes—a good hour of fun!

--Host or attend evening playgroups or a play date. It’s OK to play in to the darker hours. Order a pizza and make it dinner for everyone.

--Use the evening hours to do preschool workbooks with the not-quite-school-aged kids. They think it’s fun and they are getting a little education at the same time.

--Even if it’s dark, go outside. Load them in the stroller, wagon or go for a walk and bring flashlights.

--Bake together. There are lots of great kid’s cookbooks with simple baking recipes for you and your child to do together.

--Bring out the instruments. Put on some fun music and get all the instruments in your house together and put on a show.

--Dress up. Snatch up a few leftover Halloween costumes now while you can at reduced prices or Goodwill. They make great dress up outfits.

--Let the kids play in the backyard even in the dark. Drag out the tent and hand them some flashlights so they can pretend to camp.

--Go to Target and leave your credit cards at home. We spent an hour there on Sunday evening and didn't spend a dime. The kids loved just roaming around and since I had no money, we couldn't buy anything!

I’m not saying these few ideas will keep you busy all winter long, but every once in a while throw them a curve ball for a little fun.

Enjoy the dark.

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