I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Winter is not my favorite. To be honest, if it only stuck around through Christmas (because what would Christmas be without the promise of snow?), I’d be one happy lady. Fighting the urge to curl up on the couch, sip steaming hot coffee, and await the arrival of warmer weather is a daily struggle. Sadly, as a mom to four children this is not a viable option. So I get creative. And we get active. And we go outside. Yup, even as the mercury plunges, the kids and I bundle up and venture out into the cold.
What do we do out there?
Dust off the outdoor toys. There’s nothing wrong with biking in the winter. Or kicking a ball around in the yard. Or trying to break the world record for rope jumping. But I’d recommend skipping the water play, at least outdoors. Been there, done that – bad idea.
Set up an obstacle course. One of the best ways to stay warm outdoors when the weather is cool is to keep on moving, which is why we love obstacle courses. The kids climb slide, hop and skip their way to warmth. Their favorite part? The hot chocolate reward they all get for completing the course in record time.
Build something. Nature has the best building materials. On any given day, regardless of the weather, our yard is filled with tiny fairy houses constructed primarily from sticks and dry leaves, and elaborate rock cities serving as home to a population of little stone people. The added bonus of construction in the colder months is doing so without the fear of the lawn mower wreaking havoc on all their hard work.
Have a scavenger hunt. Send your kids racing around the yard searching for the best that winter has to offer. Short on ideas? Do an online search for “outdoor winter scavenger hunt”. You’ll find more than enough to keep them hunting for quite some time.
Search for signs of spring. My son loves this one. He starts looking when the weather starts to turn cool (around mid-November) and doesn’t stop until the flowers start to bloom. I must admit I, too, experience quite a bit of joy when we find that first shoot of green pushing its way through the frosty ground.
Feed the birds. Let’s face it – we might have it rough in the winter, but at least we can go to the local grocery store when we need something to eat. The birds? Not an option. My kiddos love to give them a helping hand. We string cheerios on pipe cleaners and slather pine cones and paper rolls with peanut butter and seeds and hang them from the trees. Doing this outside has its benefits: 1) when things get messy, the house stays clean, and 2) all the food that gets dropped on the ground becomes an extra treat for our little feathered friends.
Hit the playground. Our winter trips are definitely shorter than those we take in the summer, but still 100% worth taking. Even in the cold, my kids have a ball running, climbing, swinging and sliding. The best part about it? It gives them a chance to run off some of that pent up energy, and almost guarantees a hassle free bedtime.
Take a hike. Anything that gets you moving is a great idea for cooler weather. And the woods are pretty amazing in the winter. Don’t have a park nearby? A residential hike is just as effective at keeping the cold at bay.
Run through the zoo. If you’re anything like us, we are frequent zoo visitors in the warmer months. The thing is, it’s still pretty great in the winter time too. Is it cold? Sure, but there are plenty of indoor exhibits to warm up in. My two year old considers the mad dash from one to the next the best part of the trip – run away from mom without the fear of consequence? YES PLEASE!
Pray for snow. I am not a fan of snow. But there is truly no better way to get kids begging to go outside in the winter. So when I get desperate, I pray. Sorry, Cincinnati, you can blame it on me.
Still not enough to lure you into the cold? Find lots of ideas for indoor winter play in this post about 10 Ideas for Indoor Winter Fun. Looking for some frosty fun without the freeze? We’ve got you covered there, too with this post on Winter Themed Dramatic Play.