Schools offer less running and playing time for kids, making it so valuable to offer physical activity time at home after a busy day of work work work. But the challenge comes when we’re stuck inside on snow days and rainy days — we need a mix of active activities and calm, peaceful play.
On days when it’s too cold or wet for me to kick them outside to play, the kids come home or stay home on a snow day craving excitement and activity, and things can get a little crazy. We try lots of activities–cooking, games on the Wii or Xbox, building with LEGOs… but after a while without a lot of physical activity, kids tend to go wild.
On one such day, our family talked about appropriate behavior inside versus outside of the house. Recognizing that physical play is important to kids, I wanted to make sure they understood that there’s a time and place (ahem, basement playroom) for active play, but that we had to recognize that we, as a family, also need to understand how to calm our selves with more calm activities.
To help my visual learners clue in, I created a simple chart with only a scale and the words WILD and calm on it. Together, we placed the smaller words “outside,” “inside,” “dinner,” and “bed” along the scale, and then I gave each of the kids a clip and asked them to each place their clip where their behavior would have been when I called them all together. Next, we brainstormed ways we could all get to calm before bed.
How to calm down a house of crazed kids
The visual helped a lot with this step, as they talked about what they enjoyed doing at each stage. For example, building with LEGOs is a two or three, but playing with dolls is a three or four. The kids even looked at their board game collection and determined which games are higher on the wild scale (games like Jake and the Never Land Pirates Never Land Challenge require a lot of movement and excitement, whereas Sequence for Kids or HedBanz Game may factor in a mid-range score on the wild scale. Meanwhile, Disney Princess Enchanted Cupcake Party Game is a relatively calm game, as is coloring or crafting. Reading a book was determined to be almost as calm as bedtime.
One of the kids mentioned yoga and breathing exercises as a way to calm down, and another said that drawing was one of her favorite ways to calm herself.
Since I hung up this sign and we discussed it together, I’ve only had to refer to it a few times. In the beginning, the kids enjoyed moving their clips to show their energy, but, over time, the clip movement became less necessary as they learned to identify their activity. I can still say to the kids, “you’re at about an 8 right now… is that calm enough for inside behavior?” and they understand what they need to do to calm down.
How do you calm your crazed kids?