The winter months in Michigan can drive anyone crazy but it can also send a mother over the edge with 6 kids cooped up in the house. You can attempt to go outside but you really have to be up for the challenge. You have to be prepared for the limited time that it will last, the work involved in getting everyone ready and the amount of mess you are prepared for while outside. This year has been a mild winter and has been nice in some respects. The kids have been riding their bikes in their boots and snowpants. They have been able to walk and run comfortably and haven't been hijacked by any snowbanks. They have been able to take a few runs down the hill on their sleds but knowing that the afternoon sun could very well make the snow dissappear by the time they wake up from naps. This mild weather can also provide certain negative outcomes especially for little ones. Puddles of water with only a sheet of ice on them and just a touch crushes the ice and exposes the temptation of water. It starts with a touch from the edge of their boots and it doesn't take long until they are stomping in the puddles and using their gloves as their momentary shield as they dip them under water. The few moments of joy quickly turns into tears and screams with hands that are wet, cold and miserable. It turns into 3 sets of wet everything and also cuts the outdoor playtime in half. I do my best to encourage driveway play when it is a melting day but it never works. Children are drawn to water or mess. They can find a water and mud better then they can find a new pair of underwear in their underwear drawer.
When we have exhausted the outdoor play we are forced to go back inside and try to discover something that will grab their attention. I often put the older 3 in charge and tell them to take the trips downstairs and play with them. The older 3 have taught the trips how to play knee hockey and my favorite (not) how to slide down the stairs on a cushion. I cringe when they start sliding down the stairs but with some monitoring it seems to be great fun for all and it keeps everyone happy. The latest and greatest fun is when the older ones give piggy back rides to the little ones. They move about the house and the little ones just laugh and laugh.