Can we be honest? January and February may be our least favorite months of the year. The holiday excitement has come and gone, it’s typically cold, it’s grey and spring is still months away. Did we mention the sickness and germs that feel like a never-ending cycle?
When you have young children, this time of year can be especially challenging. Boredom and monotony set in with long days spent indoors. By bedtime, many parents may find their stress levels running high and their children running wild.
While there is no way to bring warm weather any faster, here are some ideas to help ease the winter blues:
- Build a blanket fort in the evening or set up a small tent. Eat dinner in your indoor campout or make some popcorn to go with a camp-in movie.
- Create an “indoor sandbox” for little ones with a very large storage tub or small plastic swimming pool. Give them a measuring cup, spoon, funnel or Tupperware container and let them play with some dry rice, beans, oatmeal or moon sand. Be prepared for some quick cleanup with a broom or place the whole operation on a shower curtain liner for quick foldup-cleanup.
- Use painter’s tape to make an indoor hopscotch or Hot Wheels racetrack.
- Set up a playgroup and rotate houses on a regular schedule. Be sure to do a quick cleanup before you leave so no one dreads their turn to host!
- Take full advantage of smaller holidays like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. Check out library books to read, find some fun crafts to make and decorate the house. For example, a great Valentine’s idea is to stick a heart on your child’s door each day leading up to Valentine’s Day with a written reason of why you love him/her.
- Help kids make stained glass windows. Let them rip crepe paper or streamers into small pieces then paint the pieces on glass doors or windows using water. Place a towel under the glass to catch drips.
- Be prepared for snow with warm clothes to bundle kids up and send them out to play. Have some hot chocolate on hand for their return. These are the days that make great winter memories!
- Set up some fun (and sometimes messy) sensory play with slime, goop, cloud dough, water beads or more. Google recipes or go to websites like Artfulparent.com for help.
- Check out the bowling alley. Red Apple Sports Center often runs specials on bowling as well as the arcade.
- Let your kids help prep dinner (which can fall right in the dreaded 5pm witching hour). Older ones can handle salad responsibility while young ones may be able to help shake spices or dump cans into a recipe.
- Take full advantage of random warm weather days to play outside as much as possible.
- Have a family game night. Younger kids may enjoy games like Match, Slap Jack, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders or Go Fish. For older kids, play a game of Monopoly, Life or Charades.
- Check into local open gyms, indoor pools or classes at churches, the YMCA, Movin’ Monkeys or the Phillips 66 Gymnastics Center. Running out some energy is always a good thing.
While winter can feel long and dull (and full of Mucinex), remember to try to make the most of each season of life. Take advantage of the slower pace and time together – even if it means snuggling in to watch your third Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode for the day side-by-side with your toddler because it’s all you have left. Spring is around the corner but every day comes with the opportunity to make memories, laugh together and have some fun.