Tips to Beat Winter Boredom
Living in the Midwest the winters can get long especially for families with young children. How do you burn off all that extra energy when you are stuck indoors? What do you do when winter boredom kicks in?
In the summer kids spend a lot of time outdoors running, jumping, climbing, riding bikes and swimming; there is no shortage of large motor time. In the winter the frigid temperatures often keep us cooped up inside with children who keep saying, “I’m bored.”
So what can parents do to keep their kids active and engaged?
Bake or Cook Together
Baking is a great activity for kids to do with their family. Cooking teaches kids a lot of important skills; they use their fine motor to mix, measure and pour. They are using math when they measure or add ingredients. Also depending on your child’s age you can change the difficulty of the cooking. Toddlers can pour and stir. Older preschoolers can help measure and mix. School age kids can start to cut and read recipes with supervision. Even teenagers can be involved in cooking. You could have your children have a cook off to see who comes up with the most interesting food using certain ingredients.
Arts and Crafts
Art is a great way for kids to utilize their creativity. My family enjoys getting out table top easels and painting together. You could create a jewelry box together or practice drawing. The possibilities are endless.
Indoor Large-Motor Activities
Just because it is too cold to go outside and move doesn’t mean you can’t get those muscles moving. Some fun indoor activities you could do at home are mind-body exercises, having a dance party and creating an indoor obstacle course.
When it’s not too cold, take advantage to be outdoors. Even if it is for a short period of time, playing outside has so many benefits. The cold air will help kill some germs and kids can burn off some extra energy. Plus just the process of putting on all the winter gear is great for preschoolers’ fine motor skills. Just make sure to dress for the weather.
Winter usually allows families some extra free time in their schedule. A great way to bond as a family is to help those in need. Helping out at the local food pantry or visiting a local nursing home are great ways to help install kindness and gratitude in your child.
Go to a local museum or library. A lot of libraries have winter reading programs that can help promote a love of reading in your child. Libraries often have a lot of activities going on besides just checking out books; check your local libraries web page. Sign up for a class together such as a cooking class or a painting class. Utilize Pinterest and do some fun at-home science experiments with stuff found in the kitchen. One that is always a favorite with preschool age children is vinegar and baking soda.
Utilize local places where you can be active indoors. Go to the community center and play basketball. Visit the trampoline park, go bowling, ice skating, roller skating or to open gym time.
Sharing Family Fun
Some fun things to do as a family this winter could be board games, card games, scavenger hunts in the house, and teaching each other a new skill or hobby. My son just taught me to play chess when we were stuck inside on a rainy day. You could show your child how to make friendship bracelets or how to crochet.
Even though the winter months can stretch on in the Midwest, there are plenty of ways to create special memories with your family. Making sure we spend meaningful time with our kids and using those large muscles in the winter can help keep cabin fever at bay. Create new bonds with your family this winter with these fun ideas.
By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center