Cold weather…. Ugh. As a mom of three smallish children, whose energy seems boundless at times, the cold weather can be a signal of some rough days ahead as we struggle to move our very “on-the-go” and active outdoor lives to the dreaded indoors. Yes, snow days can be fun, but the amount of time we can stand to be outside in the cold Ohio air is pretty short lived. Both of my boys have always been proprioceptive seekers, meaning they crave that sensory stimulation that comes with physical movement and pressure. Fulfilling this sensory need helps them stay regulated. Outdoor play is inherently made up of this already but getting their fill for it indoors can take a bit more planning and thought. So, what have we done to help satisfy this sensory need at our home as our days move more and more indoors?
- Bounce House
One of the best presents we have ever gotten for our children: an indoor bounce house. This baby has lasted us for 8 years now, surviving through every winter, rainy day, and birthday party we’ve had. I can’t remember the exact amount we spent (it didn’t seem cheap at the time), but in comparison to other toys we have definitely gotten our money’s worth out of this beauty. If you don’t fill the pit with balls (or choose a model without the pit area); take down is quite fast. Or if you know you will use it a lot like us, finding a designated space to keep it up can come in handy too.
- Indoor trampoline
If your kiddos are still pretty little, those small, stand in the corner jump and plays can be a good investment too. A few years ago, we bit the bullet and got the kids a full-size trampoline with a net, but I insisted that we make space and put it up INSIDE our barn, instead of in the back yard. It doesn’t always seem like the most convenient use of space, but it helps give us another one of those activities that we can go to all year long when my boys are really in need of that joint stimulation.
- Just Dance
Another bit of toy money well spent in our house was for the just dance video game. For anyone that is unfamiliar, it is a game where the kids can watch people dance and just do what they do. All of my kids were pretty familiar with this type of activity from preschool dance time anyhow. And it is a great way to work on those imitation skills as well.
- Wrestling/Rough play
Now, I’m not trying to get anyone hurt, and no, we are not having full on WWE style throw-downs in our house, but my kids all enjoy those type of rough play games. We took our coffee table out of our living room years ago to help make that extra floor space so we could play. They all love being chased, and playfully tossed around onto the couch. This type of activity definitely involves more parental participation in our house than the other two suggestions, but it also doesn’t come at a cost or take up any extra space in the house!
Setting aside at least 30 minutes a day for those “rough play” activities like jumping, dancing, wrestling, etc. (especially if you use some of those “play project” techniques) can make a big difference in the day of a proprioceptive seeking child. We find many improvements to both our boys’ behavior when we fit in time to do these types of activities during the day including more focus and less meltdowns overall. So, if you have a kid that lives off proprioceptive sensory interaction, carve out some plans for “rough play” indoor time and hopefully you will see the same benefits in your children that we have seen with ours.