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    22 Ways To Keep Your Kids Happy When It's Cold And Icky Outside

    Are you spending your winter days staring into a seemingly eternal abyss of freezing cold? Try these tips and tricks for keeping your family healthy, warm, and reasonably cheerful.

    1. Use Halloween costumes to keep the baby warm.

    Those bunny and bear suits are frequently toastier than sweaters and jackets... and cute as the dickens, too.

    2. Whip up perfectly smooth hot cocoa 鈥 there's a trick to it!

    Using powered hot cocoa mix? Dump it in the cup, then add just a little hot water. Stir, stir, stir. Then add a little more hot water. Repeat until full and smooth and creamy and clump-free. Mmmmmm.

    3. Paint those rain boots.

    Now you can dazzle on the next rainy day!

    4. ...And line them, too.

    Fleecy DIY liners will keep their little feet warm and avoid that dreaded winter conundrum: cold-yet-dry in rain boots, or warm-yet-wet (and therefore cold) in Uggs?

    5. Prevent Norovirus with grape juice.

    Rumor has it that drinking grape juice keeps the dreaded stomach bug at bay!

    But if that doesn't work, keep a potty by the bed.

    It works really well as a vomit receptacle. :-(

    6. Acknowledge that getting ready to go outside is enough of an ordeal to count as its own activity.

    Nothing to do? No activities or playdates planned? Suggest a simple walk around the block. By the time you get your kids' snowsuit on...

    And his hat...

    And his scarf...'ll have spent an hour right there. Your stroll will take another hour as the child inspects every heap of ice or puddle of slush...

    Back at home, de-bundling him will take yet another hour. Then presto-chango, it's time for dinner! Your "walk around the block" just consumed an entire afternoon!

    7. It's a good time to educate your kids about cute, cuddly Arctic animals.

    Even if you don't normally believe in screen time, it'll help trick your kids into thinking that winter is fun. Try downloading the Winter Animals app in iTunes.

    8. Make every night a slumber party.

    A cute sleeping bag is fun, cozy, and will insure your child doesn't kick off the covers.

    9. Layer up, and avoid using cotton as the bottom layer.

    NBC /

    It really works to keep kiddies warm!

    Just avoid using 100% cotton as the bottom layer... it gets wet with perspiration, then makes your kid cold.

    10. Use kid-safe chapstick.

    All the best moms carry baby-safe moisturizer for those wintry chafed faces...

    But in case you forgot, try some silicone-based diaper cream on those poor little red, roughened nostrils instead.

    11. Cure a croupy cough with some steam.

    If you hear the tell-tale seal-barking sounds of croup, bring your child into the bathroom, close the door, and turn on the hot shower. Sit beside the shower (not in it) and breathe in the steamy air. Then...

    Making sure your little one is dry and well-bundled, stand in front of the fridge and open the freezer door, this time breathing in the cold air. (Other options include stepping outside if it's chilly out, or turning on the AC and standing in front of it.)

    12. Always carry a spare set of clothes.

    When kids get wet, they can lose their body heat even more rapidly, so keep an outfit on hand so that you can change them into dry clothes at the drop of a (woolen) hat.

    ... Including extra mittens.

    They're the first things to get wet after a snowball fight!

    13. ... And buy extra hats, too.

    Kids need hats. Kids lose hats.

    14. Do cute things with lone gloves.

    Kids lose gloves, too. But if you turn the remaining glove into a chipmunk, everyone wins!

    15. Make friends with the family next door.

    It doesn't matter if you've never had a playdate with your neighbors before 鈥 you automatically have something in common: it's yucky outside, and you all need something to do. Invite them over, or knock on their door bearing cookies. They'll be thrilled to see you!

    16. Keep your child's bike wheels from getting muddy.

    ... By making mud guards: one for the front (using an old detergent container)...

    And one for the back (using an old bicycle wheel)!

    17. Give your child's snowball a fighting chance.

    Arm your children with ice cream scoopers for making perfectly shaped snowballs. All's fair in snowball fights, right?

    18. Make an indoor slide.

    Another rainy day, another fort made out of sheets? Yawn. Try a slide made out of cardboard boxes, instead!

    19. Keep everyone's wrists warm with socks.

    Protect that cold area between your kid's mitten and his sleeve by cutting the toes out of a pair of socks and using them as wrist-warmers.

    20. Keep everyone's butts warm with socks.

    Sitting on a cold toilet seat in winter is one of the worst things, ever.

    21. Subject socks to a final indignity.

    Degrade a pair of socks even further by slipping them over your kids wrists for another purpose: snot receptacle.

    22. Read "The Snowy Day"... again

    The book by Ezra Jack Keats will help you remember that a snowy day, seen through the eyes of a little boy named Peter, can be pure magic.

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