Indoor Winter Activities to Help Beat Those Michigan Snow Days

We Michiganders definitely know a thing or two about winter weather. Once January hits and I can no longer hear sleigh bells, falling snow loses its allure. It’s because I know that with that falling snow comes more opportunities to be inside our homes, waiting for it to thaw outside. Which means more opportunities for cabin fever (and the need for indoor winter activities) to set in. 

Throughout the years, I’ve found it’s best to try and prevent cabin fever and those winter blues before they hit. This is especially true with repeated snow days in a row sometimes, or when the roads are too slippery to drive around on weekends.

But if there’s one thing we all learned well during the pandemic, it’s that we can have just as much fun cooped up inside as we can going out. And as we also discovered during the pandemic, sometimes those cozy days and nights inside can actually be a gift in the form of more time spent together as a family

Here are my favorite tips to make the most of the gift of a cozy winter season, and maximize family fun time indoors! 

Schedule a Weekly Family Movie Night  

If you were to ask my kids what their favorite day of the week is, they’d tell you Friday in a heartbeat. This is because Friday is our family movie night! 

We treat this night like an actual event. The whole family looks forward to it all week long. I make a special yummy dinner because in our house calories don’t count for us on Fridays. Then we end the evening with a special dessert that’s only reserved for Friday night while watching our movie. 

Explore Each Other’s Interests

Each family member gets their turn to pick a movie we all watch together. Through this aspect, we’ve been introduced to each other’s interests. 

For example, my kids learned about my husband’s childhood trends when he insisted we watch E.T. He described seeing it as a child and the resulting social trends the movie created. My husband and children also became avid Star Wars fans after I introduced them to the series—carried on from my own childhood and parents. This then sparked more Star Wars activities and concurrent travels. 

When my kids pick the movie I’m always amazed at how I think I absolutely know what they’re currently interested in. But then I learn something new through their movie choice!

For example my daughter recently asked us to watch the new Spider Man series, which I’d never heard her express interest in prior. It turned out to be an excellent movie! It also prompted me to buy the Marvel and Spider Man graphic novels and comics for my kids which they currently adore!  

Enjoy the Peace + Cuddle Time

Another aspect I love about family movie night is finally being able to relax, put my feet up, and cuddle with my kids after a busy week. So pick a night that works for your family—and stick to it. Schedule in a weekly family movie night!

It’ll not only help you pass those winter nights more easily as you munch on popcorn cuddled next to your kiddo with snow falling outside the window, but it will also instill in your kids that spending time as a family is valuable. 

Set the Mood

Yes, this goes for whole family events too. When I think of winter days and nights, I think of heavy blankets, fuzzy socks, a fire crackling off in the distance, and a warm mug of something in my hand. Since we spend so much time inside the house during the winter season here in Michigan, it’s worth investing in making it to your family’s cozy liking. 

Now I’m not saying to go out and hire a contractor to build you a fireplace and stick a chimney in your roof. But it might be worth splurging on those items that give you all the cozy vibes. Especially since we’re using them for so many months!

Cozy Up Your Existing Space

Some ways you can set the cozy mood in your home are purchasing warm throw blankets, lots of pillows, and fuzzy socks and lounge wear for the whole family. Set up a tea and cocoa station on the counter. Buy a smokeless fireplace for cheap online if you don’t have one (these can actually be placed anywhere you want around your house!). Or simply light some candles–either with a flame, or flameless if you have young kids. 

Do whatever you need to set the mood in your house so that you and your family want to be there. And we’re all too familiar with the fact that in winter—we’ll be there for a while. So we better like the space.  

Set Up “Fun Stations” Around Your House

One of my favorite indoor mom hacks I learned from other moms early on in my parenting years? Set up all their toys and games in designated stations. Their stuff stays better organized and they’re independently playing with different items that all have a home. Plus I don’t have to be the one to constantly entertain them. Win-win-win for mama! 

“Fun Stations” go beyond just setting up a playroom for your kids. This is about setting up their play area so they can not only play without you, but organizing it in a way that they can put it back themselves without your help

In our home, I found the easiest place to do this was the basement. But my mantra truly is “work with your existing space.” Keep your kids’ ages and dependency levels in mind. For example, this is not the time to set up a puzzle station with a 2,000 piece puzzle for your four-year-old. They might need some help putting it together and cleaning it up afterwards.  

In our home, I have set up a cozy book area, a media game spot for Nintendo games, a table for crafts/puzzles, a dollhouse area with doll items next to it, and an empty rug so they can carry play over onto the floor if necessary. But . . . what do you do if they get bored of this stuff that’s already out? 

Have a Hidden Storage Area of Extra Toys/Games at the Ready

After a few days of playing with the same things over and over during a snowy week, my kids eventually get bored. This is when I pull out my arsenal of secret games and toys I have stored away. (Shhh . . . don’t tell them I have this!) These toys and games are my secret weapon for preventing boredom. I collect them over time, and they’re not expensive at all.

They’ve been purchased at the dollar store. I look around in the dollar spot at Target. They can be found at garage sales and second-hand shops. They’ve been donated through family and friends. I find them on sale during the holidays. And sometimes I splurge a little on items I know they’d absolutely adore.

I keep them all in a secret stash for a boring rainy (or in this case snowy) day. I can’t even count how many times doing this has saved me from hearing “Moooom we’re borrrred!” over and over on a snow day or weekend winter afternoon. 

Get Creative With Indoor Activities

If there’s one thing we all know well by now due to the pandemic, it’s how to get creative with indoor fun. We also know how to bring the outdoor fun indoors. One winter tradition my family started during the pandemic when we were bored one night and needed to shake the fun up a little was a living-room sleepover. This is a night where we literally sleep in the living room.

We bake something yummy together, make a special dinner, and do some type of family activity such as a game and/or movie night. Then we all get cozy in sleeping bags on the living room floor and quite literally have a sleepover in the living room! Because we added in a special indoor activity we don’t normally do, that same family movie night just got kicked up five extra notches!

Another fun idea my family started during the pandemic? Cooking shows together! We love watching kids cooking and baking shows together and then recreating the recipes in our own kitchen! 

One of our favorite outdoor-brought-indoor activities is a BBQ inside. You can broil steaks in the oven if you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace. Roast s’mores on the stove top with a skewer. Get creative using your space and your family’s interests!

I hope that after reading this, the task of entertaining your kids all winter feels a little less daunting. Instead, I hope you see it as a chance to spend some more cozy uninterrupted time indoors. Because if there are two things Michigan winters give us, it’s lots of snowy days . . . and more family time together. 

Looking for more family movie night inspiration? Amanda shares the family movie night essentials for a perfect evening in!


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