The Adventures of Housebound Mom

This is a very, very old piece of writing that I could have sworn I’d already published, either here on the blog or via But then I couldn’t find it, and I wanted to link to it via the KOA newsletter, because I’ve been nagging everyone that they Must. Go. Outside. And I know that that’s tough when kids are little. So here it is. (What? You’re not signed up for this newsletter that we send out each week. Get on that, please!) And if you’ve known me for a while, you may home seen it before, from waaaaaayyyyy back when I was doing the newsletter for the Niskayuna Moms’ Group.

After J got a fever at 9 days old, leading to a stay in the hospital and various torturous medical procedures, our family has decided to remain in relative seclusion until Thanksgiving, when the baby’s immune system would be up to speed. At the time, we’d been experiencing the first of the yucky fall weather and I’d been, frankly, half asleep most of the time. So I thought some other mommies might enjoy my ideas for incredibly lazy and cheap activities that your kids might enjoy when you’d rather—but think you probably shouldn’t—plop them in front of another show. If you have some of your own, I’d love to hear them and pass them along.


Fun with the Digital Camera: Kids love pictures.

  • Take pictures of favorite people and put them in an album or on the refrigerator for the very youngest kids examine. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make an alphabet or counting book with objects around the house. I know people who’ve sent away for books like this and shared them with cousins. Impressive!
  • Print up little (or create a folder on whatever electronic device you’re willing to let a child hold containing) photos of various objects to use for various fun and games. We take pictures of objects around the house to play scavenger hunt or pictures of our most-often-purchased food items so that we can occupy ourselves searching the grocery store.
  • After being bashed by the toy motorcycle one too many times, Cute W pasted a photo of my daughter into a document to create a driver’s license for her. Now if she crashes into him too often she “loses her license”.
  • For older kids, take pictures of the places that you go and the people that you see regularly, then put them on a calendar to help them understand days of the week (Wednesdays is Moms’ Group) or look forward to a big event, like Grandpa visiting.
Come to think of it, the girls would also "help" grocery shop by looking for items on a picture list. No wonder these kids are slaughtering the state testing.

Come to think of it, the girls would also “help” grocery shop by looking for items on a picture list. No wonder these kids are slaughtering the state testing.

Kitchen Concoctions: Pass some time with easy activities.

  • Put a pile of cornstarch in a plastic dish and add enough water to get it all wet.       It’s likely to get a bit messy, but the crazy solid-liquid texture can fascinate toddlers (and adults, really) for a long time.
  • Pull out a bunch of spices from the cabinet and have a smell-a-thon. The only danger here is that they’ll want to do it again tomorrow when you’re just trying to cook dinner.
  • Mix half a cup of rubbing alcohol and a couple of drop of food coloring in a plastic bag that seals, then add dried pasta and shake it up. Spread the pasta to dry on waxed paper and you have colored noodles make string or paste. Crafty, and great when you need to clean out the cabinets, anyway.

The Mail: You get it every day: why not milk it for all that it’s worth?

  • Make the mail truck an event. Get to know your postal carrier by offering cookies or a hand-painted picture once in a while, and you’ll have a friend who visits your kids daily.
  • Cut up those complimentary return address labels from charities so that you have an endless supply of stickers: we’re biggest fans of the ASPCA’s puppies and kitties.
  • If I have any piece of junk mail that can remotely interest my toddler (anything with pictures of children, animals, vehicles, or toys), I tell her that it’s “her” mail.
  • If credit card companies send you one of those fake cards, hand it over to your child to fill wallets and purses, or keep it with your real stuff in case you need to negotiate a quick trade because they’ve gotten something important.
  • For older kids, hand over those Pottery Barn and other home catalogs and let them cut out and glue furnishing and other items to make their own room on a page.

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