The Elite Nanny Company guide to amusing children in winter

Many parents, and a lot of nannies, begin to dread the long winter evenings in November and continue that dread into February … but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s our list of tried and tested tips and tricks to keep even the most active child happy, despite the weather.

Engage with art

One of the easiest ways to keep your children happy is to design some art projects that last longer than a single evening. One of our most in-demand nanny candidates uses this time of year to get children to build their own advent calendar (yes, build it, not buy it!). Using junk materials such as toilet roll inners, cereal boxes and yoghurt tubs, the children can make a present receptacle or two every night, which is stapled to a cardboard ‘Christmas tree’ and then, from the first of December receive a gift from it every morning. If those gifts are also activity related (we like Lego packs, French knitting dolls etc) they children tend to amuse themselves with their new toy that evening too.

Educate and entertain

• Many museums have one open evening a week or a month. These can be great occasions for children, who find themselves exploring a familiar space at an unusual time and in different company.
• A cheap telescope can be a fantastic investment for the winter – giving you a chance to wrap up warmly and get out into the garden at night, and allowing your children to become amateur astronomers.
• While night digital cameras (also called trail cameras) are not pocket money prices, they can be an amazing investment for children interested in wildlife – along with hedgehog holes in fences (check with your landlord if you’re renting!), fresh water and bird food. A nightcam can create a wonderful lifelong love of nature and the outdoors.

Cook up a storm

Children generally enjoy being able to contribute to dinner – decorating pizzas or arranging fruit salad elements in bowls can keep children happy for quite a long period of time and older children are often willing to take an active role in meal planning and preparation. One of our nannies suggests that children will readily enjoy ice cream made of pureed frozen bananas which they can garnish with berries or slices of fresh fruit and will happily consume without realise they are eating two of their five a day.

Become cold conscious

There’s a school of childcare that says there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Waterproof track trousers and coats can help keep your child warm and happy in inclement weather as can wellington boots and thermal mittens.

Dark is more of an issue – and while reflective clothing is essential, many parents fear it doesn’t do enough of a job. If your children like (or need) to be outdoors after dark, we suggest LED clip on lights can be attached to backpack straps, coat toggles and shoe straps – the soft rubber ones designed for dog collars come in a range of sizes and three different blink rates, giving every child a chance to be seen easily, whatever the weather.

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