Sarah Loebsack sat nestled in a chair at the Iowa City Public Library as she watched her 4-year-old son, Jacob Thompson, play nearby at a Lego table.
It was her turn to stay at home with Jacob after her husband took off work Monday since the extreme cold closed their son’s daycare. As the temperatures proved less severe Tuesday, but still chilly, Loebsack said it was time to shake off the cabin fever.
“I knew we needed to get out of the house,” she said Tuesday.
Extreme subzero temperatures across the area have holed up many area residents in their homes as wind chills dipped so low school was cancelled and with it several daycare centers, leaving parents to get creative in how to keep little ones entertained.
Annie Funk said 23-month-old son, Elias Funk, helped her make zucchini bread during their time indoors. On Tuesday, the two spent time at the library, as Elias took advantage of the extra space and toddled around the children’s area as mom followed close behind.
Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of the “Baby 411″ series, said it’s important for parents to keep their children active and engaged when stuck at home and not just plopped down in front of the television all day.
Brown said there are numerous ways home-bound families can stay entertained: reading, cooking, making Play-Doh and “goo”, or science experiments in the snow like throwing hot water into the subzero air and watching it transform into snow.
“It does require you to be creative and use your imagination,” Brown said of keeping children entertained indoors for such long periods. “But the really cool thing is that kids are really creative and have a big imagination.”
Brown said parents can get children to come up with ideas for activities they can write down and put them into a jar to select.
“I think you’re going to have happier kids if they’re not just sitting down and being sedentary,” she said.
Despite the inconvenience extreme cold weather can cause in the daily routines of work, school and daycare, Loebsack said she’s glad to have some extra time with her son.
“I’d rather stay at home with him than go to work,” she said and smiled fondly as her son Jacob continued to play.