When it’s -20 degrees (and you’re home with two small kids)

Being athletic people from New England, Hubby and I are pretty resistant to the cold. We’re intentionally fostering a love of outdoor winter activities in our kids. 

I remembered the snowmageddon of last year, and being home alone with both kids for two of three colossal blizzards. We actually went outside and played A TON. It kept us sane!

But this weekend, we are experiencing dangerously low temperatures, sub- zero with even more sub- zero wind chill factors. 

What do you do with two small kids when it’s THIS cold out? Just to walk to the car is not only bitingly uncomfortable, it’s potentially dangerous. Frostbite can set in on exposed skin in just a few minutes. We hit -32 with the wind chill early Saturday!

So. It’s been a weekend of inspiring creativity- lots of cooking projects, painting and drawing, reading and music. Yes, and also family movie night and cartoons and kid- friendly iPad games. All of it. 

I’m pleased with how the long weekend is going, on the whole. I’m going to write about our first project:

Saturday morning, we pulled out the colorful “Baking Kids Love” cookbook* and they chose a recipe. 

Sugar cookies! We have all the ingredients and a bunch of different themed cookie cutters. The kids helped gather the ingredients and pile them on the counter. (They drag over kitchen chairs to stand on to reach the counter.) 

They took turns dumping ingredients in the bowl- yes, this whole project is super-messy! Then mixing, and tasting. No fear off raw eggs in this house. 

We put the dough in the fridge to firm up, and mixed up the frosting. I always make a basic buttercream; the recipe is on the confectioner’s sugar packaging. They helped, though we’re extra- careful around the handheld electric mixer. 

They picked three food coloring colors (pink, yellow, purple) and helped mix them up in three little bowls. We set those aside and pulled out the dough. 

Yes, this part is beyond messy. Flour and dough bits end up all over the kitchen and our clothes. Yes, they end up making imperfect shapes or using the wrong- holiday cookies cutters, or free-forming little snakes and balls. Who cares? 

After the cookies were baked and cooled, we used plastic spoons and knives to spread frosting on, and then sprinkled colored sprinkles. We have many, many sprinkle types and colors; I tend to pick up these and other baking stuff when I shop, to have on hand, for just this very reason!

Yes, the kitchen got messier. Yes, they only did a few each and then wandered off, then wandered back, then ate some, then decorated another. It’s a messy and imperfect project in every way. 

And it was awesome! We presented platefuls of cookies to friends and family, and both kids were very proud to say “We made these for you!”

Cleaning time: It only took a few minutes of sink cleaning, sweeping and wiping down to get the kitchen back to normal. Kid distraction time: about two hours, give and take some. Project value in terms of teaching initiative, creativity, and self- pride: 


*There are so many of these available. We picked up a very good one on sale at Sur La Table several years ago: Baking Kids Love by Cindy Mushet. I don’t get kickbacks for the endorsement, it’s just a really good kids’ cookbook!

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