By Kathy Buckworth
Canadian winters are long and the dark, cold days can have you hankering for the warm days and freedom of summer. This is especially true when the kids are saying “I’m bored Mom!” as you look out the front door at the snow and the ice and the thermometer…and sigh. You’re all looking for some fun activities you might normally do outside. What’s the solution? Here are ideas ways to bring some of the outside fun, inside.
Family Room Feast: Who says a picnic has to happen in a park? Pack up a basket with the kids’ favourites (watermelon, sandwiches, cookies, lemonade; light summertime food), and lay a blanket on the floor, in a room where a spill here and there won’t really matter. Throw on a DVD of “A Bug’s Life”, and chew away on some gummy leaves.
Splash N’ Swim: Pull out the kids’ bathing suits (and yours, tub space and confidence permitting), and have a bathing suit pool party in your bathtub. Picking up some new beach toys, or simply playing “What floats?” with some water friendly plastic toys can get everyone into the watery. The Little Mermaid soundtrack is perfect background music.
Living Room Olympics: Set up a small training circuit for the kids, with signs for jumping jacks, running on the spot, push ups, sit ups, and other exercises. Depending on age and ability, time them for personal bests and award medals which recognize their own special talents and get involved yourself. Track down the Goofy fitness video to work-out your funny bone too.
Flashlight Fun: Perfect for those dark, early evenings of winter. Turn off all the lights (and close the blinds if there is any daylight peeking in) and arm each child with a flashlight. Pick an open easy space to run (basement would be perfect), and play a game of flashlight tag. If space and flying limbs are a concern, instead hide items in the house and have a Flashlight Scavenger Hunt.
Some activities are done inside, year round, no matter what the weather or light is like, so why not bring back:
Board Games/Puzzles: Family Game Night doesn’t have to be at night, nor does it have to include the whole family. Choose whoever is around and get some new and old games out. Put together a well-known puzzle and mark the last piece with the names of the puzzle solvers and the date, to remember on another wintery day.
Calling All Professors: Science experiments are not only fun to do, but if the kids aren’t careful, they might just learn something as well. Go online to find some simple experiments, or dig out the kit the kids got for Christmas. A small kitchen scale is an easy way to hypothesize about what household items weigh (but maybe skip the cat).
Arts & Crafts: Try to make a trip to the dollar store on a nicer day, and stock up on supplies that you can easily access, instead of trying to fashion something out of a half-finished toilet roll and a dried up marker. Challenge the kids to recreate an old master – Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. They’ll learn something and you’ll have fun comparing results.
Baking/Cooking: Get the kids to help put together the family meal. Menu planning, ingredient gathering, mixing, pouring, stirring; all can be done with kids of many ages. Have the kids write out the night’s menu, or draw pictures of what they’re going to serve up. Come up with a Theme Night and dress for dinner.
The Written Word: From writing letters to grandparents, relatives and friends who will be thrilled to receive something in the mail, to starting a journal, writing a book, or creating a screen play, get it in writing and create memories to look through on the next wintery day.
Shake It Baby: And if all else fails, nothing lightens the day and the mood like a good old fashioned dance party. Crank up the tunes and jump to the beat..Playhouse Disney’s “Let’s Dance” CD is a huge favourite! Video cameras and karaoke machines are optional (and not always recommended).
Kathy Buckworth is an award winning author of five books, including her latest “Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay”. Kathy is the only two time winner of the Professional Writers Association of Canada’s Excellence in Humour Award. She writes for national publications and is a featured parenting expert on CTVNewsChannel, and other television programs. She is a corporate spokesperson and in-demand public speaker. Kathy lives in Mississauga with her husband and four children. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow Kathy on twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth