As the cloud cover thickens, the rain starts and temperatures drop, it becomes tempting to stay curled up on the couch in front of the heater with a warm tea or Milo.
We all know children need to engage in some sort of physical activity everyday but don’t expect them to “go play outside” when all we feel like doing is watch TV or sit at the computer.
Children mirror our behaviour so the best way to motivate them during the colder months, is to motivate ourselves!
Regular physical activity not only nourishes growing bodies but it also supports their emotional and mental development, such as:
- Improving self-esteem
- Helping maintain a healthy weight
- Increasing academic ability
- Improving sleep
- Building confidence and self-esteem
- Encouraging social, sharing and team building skills
- Assisting the development of gross motor and fine motor skills
Sticking to our KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) principles, here are some fun winter activity ideas to keep our children and ourselves healthy, active and happy throughout winter:
A timeless classic that can be played under the carport or on the driveway or deck. All you need is some chalk and a few pebbles to keep them entertained. Just don’t forget to join in for some extra giggles.
Go for a family walk
My childhood memories of winter are filled with long bush walks in National Parks throughout NSW, followed by cooking marshmallows over a fire. So rug up and check out what’s available in your local area.
Invest in pedometers for each family member and award a small prize to the person who gets the most steps in a week. This is especially great to engage older kids who can choose to walk to school instead of catching the bus, or walk to their friends instead of asking you to drive them.
Indoor mini golf competition
Pick up some plastic golf clubs from a toy shop and set up a course (away from anything breakable!) using cups for holes and house hold items as obstacles.
Crank it up
This is my personal favourite! Children love to sing and dance and get an absolute kick out of seeing grownups do the same. Put some music on to create very own disco, or try hula hooping or hula dancing. You can even crank the music up and dance while house cleaning. Buy some glow sticks/bracelets, turn the lights off, turn the music up, and dance, dance, dance!
I love this idea from Little Family Fun (http://www.littlefamilyfun.com/2010/02/valentines-day-treasure-hunt.html). Replace written clues with pictures for young children who can’t read.
Get out of the house
There are lots of options to explore when cabin fever sets in, such as indoor playgrounds and public swimming pools and ten-pin bowling. Even walking around museums and galleries is a great way to do some light exercise. Community PCYC’s and recreation centres also offer sports programs and activities for all ages, all year round.
It’s show time!
Children love putting on a play or talent show, so give them a theme or opening lines to get them started. Think, “Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Rainy Days, a princess was born with a fluffy tail and blue hair … “. This is where dress-up boxes come in handy, so throw in your old scarves or ties, or cut up shirts, skirts and dresses you no longer wear.
Singing in the rain
If it’s just a drizzle outside or the sun is simply hiding, put on your gumboots and some warm clothes and head outside. Let the kids splash in the puddles while you walk – there’s always a hot shower or bath when you get home.
You can always move your car out of the garage or carport and convert into a play space for the days. Where there’s a will, there’s always a way!