Winter activities for the whole family
It’s inevitable: The winter months mean your family is spending more time inside. And while I don’t yet have kids of my own, I can imagine that too much indoor time would eventually take any parent to his or her breaking point. Cabin fever, indeed!
“[The time between winter and spring] is the toughest stretch for both myself and my kiddos,” said Heather Morocco, mother to Ella, Chase and Miles. “Winter is still aggravatingly present, while spring is just beyond reach, teasing us with a decent day here and there. The other day it was cold, but the sun was out which made outside bearable for short periods of time. The kids and I grabbed some bags and headed outside for a ‘treasure walk.’ It’s always hard to take time out of the daily schedule, but when I do it always is as pleasurable to me as it is for them!”
Morocco’s example is, of course, perfect proof that colder weather doesn’t have to mean healthy living has to take a back seat. In fact, Carol Frazey, M.S., author of “The Fit School Newsletter” (TheFitSchool.com) and mother of two, says winter activities can actually be fun.
“I think sometimes, as parents, we want to protect our kids from becoming a little uncomfortable (i.e. hungry, cold, tired), so we allow them to stay inside when it is raining or when it is too hot or cold outside,” Frazey said. “The best way that we can protect them is by teaching them to move and take care of their health, so that they can live long, fun, healthy lives.”
Here are five ideas for doing just that:
1. Start an indoor garden. Bring the bountiful plant life of spring and summer indoors by growing your own plants. Not only will it bring new life to your home, but you can use it as a tool to help teach children about the importance of nature and fresh, healthy foods. Check out Potting Shed Creations (pottingshedcreations.com) for indoor gardening options that grow year-round.
2. Make household organization projects a family affair. “Spring-cleaning is a pain in the neck,” said Angela Ardolino, founder of ParentingWithAngela.com. “But if you get the whole family together to do a project, it will ensure that you spend time together and will allow you to get things done much quicker.” Ardolino suggests making chores fun by using a reward system where a special event, like a family outing for ice cream, is the “bonus” for a hard day’s work.
3. Bundle up and head outside. Like Morocco, Catherine Holecko, the guide to Family Fitness at About.com, says chillier temperatures don’t have to be the end of outdoor adventure: “Our family loves geocaching (geocaching.com),” she said. “With a handheld GPS (or GPS-equipped smart phone), we can turn any walk or hike into a treasure hunt.” Holecko also suggested taking a long hike and playing walking games, like “Poetry to Go,” where the whole family takes turns contributing to a poem. For example, start kids off with a simple line like “I really love to take a walk” and have them add their own rhymes in turn (i.e. “except when I forget my sock,” “and then I step upon a rock” and so on).
4. Have a food pyramid challenge. “Teaching kids about good nutrition can be fun,” said Frazey. “Using the food you have in the house, have every family member try to build a sandwich using at least one item from each of the five food groups. Now, cut up the sandwiches and share pieces of each one.” Visit (MyPyramid.gov) for ideas.
5. Make your own wrapping paper. Add personal flair to gift wrap by drawing, painting or ink-stamping on newsprint, recycled brown grocery bags or even directly on a shipping box or store gift box, Holecko said. Take the opportunity to explain to kids why the activity is not only creative, but eco-friendly.
The top advice from any expert? Get moving! Too much down time, whether it be watching television or playing video games, can lead to “Mom, I’m bored!” kiddos. Play a game, head outdoors or try one of the activities above and you’ll all be sleeping snug in your beds.
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.