The winter months can be challenging for kids. Their energy level doesn’t go down just because the roads are covered in snow or because the temperatures dip below freezing. Whatever the weather, kids still need the opportunity to get outside and take in some fresh air, release stored up energy and engage their minds and bodies through active play. Here are some ways to help your kids from going stir crazy during the winter months.
Bundle up and enjoy your favorite activities. Cold temperatures and snowy roads don’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Sure, it takes a lot more time and effort to get ready to go outside, but it’s worth it. Once you get putting on the snowsuit, boots, hats and gloves down to a routine, you’ll practically whiz right through it. And when you’re all bundled up and outdoors, kids can enjoy many of the same things they do in other seasons. You can go for a walk, play on the swings, run around the backyard or hit the slide. You can enjoy being together and being active, even when the thermometer dips.
Get back to basic outdoor fun. There’s no beating basic winter fun like sledding down a favorite hill, building a snowman complete with carrot nose and button eyes, having a snowball fight with siblings or neighborhood friends or ice skating on the local frozen pond. This is the stuff childhood memories are made of. Instead of watching from the sidelines, be an active part of the memory making. Jump on the sled for your own ride down the hill. It’s just as fun as an adult as it was as a child.
Create new winter games. There’s no end to the creative ways you can have fun outside during the winter months. Make colored icicles, paint in the snow with colored water, add fun shapes to the iced sensory table or set up a snowball target game. You can create a fun, engaging outdoor environment that your kids will enjoy and learn from. Get kids involved in developing new, fun things to do outside. Kids have amazing imaginations, and with a few simple household supplies they’ll create games and play spaces that will keep them occupied for long stretches of time.
Take advantage of local indoor play spaces. Many community centers offer indoor play spaces during the winter months. These spaces usually offer a free play area where kids can run, jump, twirl and bounce. Tumbling mats and cushioned climbing squares allow kids to release their pent up energy in a safe environment. Indoor spaces also offer riding toys like tricycles, scooters and kid sized cars. Some even provide kid sized props like stop signs, gas pumps and police stations; encouraging kids to create their own cities and towns. This type of imaginary play can keep your child busy for hours on end.
Head to the pool. It’s seems like an odd time to go swimming, but the winter months are the perfect time to enroll your child in lessons or reinforce his current swimming skills. It’s a perfect way to get some exercise into his weekly schedule and it’s lots of fun to boot. When summer rolls around, he won’t be spending his time learning to swim or getting reacquainted with the water. He’ll be ready to enjoy the local pool, lake or beach.
Find a local playgroup. If you have to be inside, it’s always more fun with friends. Connect with other parents or caregivers in your area through online sites or local parenting groups. Some groups have a multiple age make-up, which is a great fit if you have more than one child. Other groups focus on one age range, which is perfect if you have one child or are looking for a social outlet for a particular child. These weekly groups give your child a fun activity to look forward to and they provide you with social connections, resources and support.
Do some of the things you don’t have time for in the busy summer months. When the weather’s nice, chances are you’re too busy to take on some of the projects your kids would like to do. Wintertime is your chance to catch up. Spend an afternoon baking cookies for the local fire department. Pull out all the arts and crafts supplies and create new art pieces for your child’s bedroom wall. Long, dark afternoons can be the perfect excuse for tackling those put off projects.
Winter doesn’t have to be a dreary season. By planning some fun activities for you and your child, you can enjoy all the winter months have to offer.