I’m all for braving the cold and getting outside in the winter months, but I think all moms know that their kids have a significantly reduced capacity for the outdoors when the weather gets cold. In Canada, from December to April we’re likely to face below freezing temperatures, ice and wind, and while we can bundle out kiddos up and get some fresh air for part of the day, it still leaves a lot of time indoors.
To combat cabin fever, you need a plan. I find the days when I’m more organized and have a general idea of activities I want to do with my little ones, we’re all happier and whining is kept to a minimum. And taking a couple of minutes the night before to consider how I’m going to pass a day indoors with my kids really helps me feel less restless. Below are a few tips to surviving a winter of indoor play, and take heart, there are only 8 weeks until Spring!
Plan Your Day
This doesn’t need to be a minute-by-minute schedule (the kids would ruin that in a heartbeat anyway!). Think about a few solid activities for your kids, apart from naps and mealtimes. I suggest doing one intense or heavy activity that requires a lot of parent interaction, one educational activity, and a lot of free play. I dread doing the intense/heavy activities because they create such a big mess (i.e. painting), so on a day when we’re stuck inside all day, I’ll usually acquiesce and go for it. Not all activities have to be so involved, and I usually don’t do more than one in a day.
Let the Kids Be Bored!
I’m a big believer in independent play, and the benefits to your kids being a little bit bored sometimes. Boredom encourages creativity and independence, so don’t be afraid to let them do “nothing” as a big part of your day. Before long they’ll be in their own world of play, and my guess is theirs is infinitely more creative and fun than one I would have organized. If you have an only child, or your children are prone to squabbling, there may be some resistance at first, but persevere. Parents have many titles, but constant playmate to our children doesn’t have to be one of them. For their sake and ours, let the kids be bored!
While the park may not be an option when it’s -20 out, there are lots of indoor outings to consider for the winter months. Play dates with friends, visiting museums, or even going grocery shopping or to the mall to stretch your legs. This winter, we bought a family membership to the Biodome and we’ve already been twice! We still need to get bundled for the journey there, but then we have hours of indoor fun outside of the house. Sometimes just getting out of the house is enough, even if you’re not getting a ton of fresh air. Check out your city’s options for indoor outings and see if there are options that fit your budget.
For educational activities, there are so many options. For younger kids it may just mean reading with them for a solid 20 minutes. Take the time to count things in their room with them and ask them to repeat after you. Introduce them to colours, words, or even a second language simply by reading. Educational can mean a myriad of different things from music and language to math and science, and almost any activity can be educational. Just make sure you’re setting aside intentional parts of your day towards education, and ideally not educational apps or TV shows, as screen time is not at all recommended for children under age 2. Some favourite educational toys that we’ve loved for our family are the Fisher Price School Days desk (pictured here), the Hape Take Along Activity Box, and the Kid O A-Z Magnatab.