Winter officially begins in just over a week. But the sun is already setting shortly after 4 p.m. For those of us who work outside the house, it feels like we leave home when it’s dark and come home when it’s dark. Can you imagine how the little ones must be feeling? The gloomy days seem to get most of us down and the energy levels sure feel really low. How do you keep little hands and minds busy and active when you are cooped up inside?
* Bring the outdoors inside: There seem to be no dirth of dry twigs and branches around the yard. Go on a scavenger hunt with the kids and gather some twigs and small branches to bring back inside. Take an old blanket or a sheet and pretend to build a fire with the dry branches. Make it complete with roasted marshmallows and campfire songs for a fun evening. If you have space, put up a small tent in the living room and let the kids sleep in it for a complete outdoor experience.
* Research: If your kids are old enough to play on the computer, take a poll on a country, food item, animal or bird that they have never heard of or seen before and get them to do a mini-project on it. Kids love getting to use the computer like adults do and at the end of this activity, they have learnt something completely new and different. Keep it short to five to seven facts about the topic – don’t make it feel like school!
* Nature walk: If the weather is mild, dress warmly and head outdoors. It does not have to be a long walk, take a small one. Go to your backyard, your local park or even down the street. Look around and observe the scenery. Take pictures and create a collage on how the place looks in all the different seasons.
* Snowshoeing: Most folks have never heard of snowshoeing! Sledding seems more popular around here. But Snowshoeing is so much fun. Plus you can just walk around the block for a fun-filled experience. The good news is that there are several places that rent snowshoes – REI and Calabas rent as well as sell snowshoes. Costco sells both adult and kids sizes.
* Plan a day trip: Being in the Midwest, there are lots and lots of small towns and cities round us. If you don’t want to hop on a plane for a vacation, be local and go for a staycation. It can even be a day trip. Drive for an hour or two and explore a new place.
* Indoor pool time: Many hotels around the area have an indoor pool. Pack the kids for a one night stay at a hotel and enjoy the pool. Plus it feels great to sleep in and not have to worry about making the bed, cleaning the house, even if it is for one day!
Winter does not have to be cold and dreary with nothing to do. You are only stuck indoors if you choose to be. There is a lot of adventure and excitement to be had even in winter if you are up for the challenge! Remember kids love being outdoors no matter what the weather is.
Karthika Gupta lives in Naperville with her two kids (both under the age of 6). She is an experienced hiker and camper and has hiked and camped domestically and internationally with her family. Karthika Gupta's boutique family adventure travel company, Memorable Jaunts, creates custom hiking and camping trips for families.