Ah, January, the month of fresh starts. While the newness of the year feels like a breath of fresh air, the thought of being stuck in the house for two to three more months with the cabin-fever kids can be stifling. Here are some ways to help the whole family make the best of winter or enjoy a little taste of spring even with snow on the ground.
1. Bake or cook something
Winter is the perfect time to be in the warm kitchen. Kids love to peel, chop, measure, concoct and stir, especially when there is a delicious treat to look forward to at the end. Cooking and baking also offer fun opportunities for lessons in math (measuring), science (baking chemistry) and social studies (culture and food). Once the summer rolls around, the kitchen will probably feel like an oven. Cooking warm soups or baking something will fall to the bottom of the “fun” list, so enjoy it while you can.
2. Create whimsical creatures, puppets or dolls
Wait! Don’t jump past this one. You do not have to be an artist to have fun creating simple dolls or creatures. Grab an old sock, some buttons, magic markers, yarn and glue and the kids can paste together a crazy puppet. And remember there is no right or wrong. It’s just about having fun.
3. Start a calisthenics competition
Who can do the most jumping jacks? What about sit ups or push ups? Create a chart where the family can track their physical achievements each day or week. No fancy equipment needed for this type of exercise – just your own body weight. Google “calisthenics” for other exercises that can be done at home without special equipment.
4. Have an indoor picnic
Pack a simple picnic-style meal and a little imagination and lay a blanket on the family room floor. Invite the kids to decide your imaginary location – their favorite park, grandma’s backyard, or a recent vacation spot. Then reminisce about your favorite characteristics of that location as you enjoy your picnic. Just remember, you are imagining you are outside, so no television allowed.
5. Hold a game night
Spend an evening playing favorite board games or learning a new game. The internet is full of instructions and videos to help the family figure out a new card game. Or, if the kids are feeling ambitious, they could create their very own board game with things found around the house or devise their own version of a card game.
6. Plant something
There is nothing like watching a little green sprout emerge from the dirt to make you feel like spring is not far away. Pick a couple simple seeds like beans or even grass. Fill a pot with soil, plant the seeds and teach the kids to care for the plant. Watch the plants as they grow. This may even inspire the family to plant a little garden.
7. Take advantage of good weather days
Lucky us! We live in Colorado where 60-degree days can pop up in the middle of January. Take advantage of the good weather days to get the kids outside for a walk, a bike ride, a park visit or just to explore and play. Whether you have an infant or a 14 year old, a stroll in the fresh air and sunshine will appease the cabin fever. And, the lingering glow of that outdoor time will help get everyone through to the next warm snap.
Deborah Mock is the editor of Colorado Parent magazine.