The northeast during the winter months can make you feel stuck and forced to stay inside especially if you are not a snowbird like me! I get it, believe me. There is such a thing as seasonal affective disorder typically caused by less exposure to vitamin D and of course even more so when you live in a location that gets tons and tons of snow lasting up to 4-5 months every winter. No wonder. Bring children into the mix and it’s a completely different ball game.
Do you feel stuck when you have little ones running you exhausted into the ground during the winter months feeling like you have nothing to do? Guess what! I am here to tell you it is completely OK for your children to be bored. These are the moments they are able to tap into their creativity energy so allow them. I see and hear often from parents that they feel guilty for not always wanting to play with their children so what do they do? You pretty much give them an I-pad, a computer, a tablet, maybe even your cell phones, and they wind up being on for hours. I understand you need a break!
Here is the good news. Children do not need you to play with them 24/7. Actually, 20 minutes is usually plenty before they are no longer interested in playing with you anyways so you don’t need to bother feeling guilty or throwing an electronic device at them. I invite you to commit a minimum of 20 minutes a day and maybe some evenings you can’t give 20 minutes and that’s OK. These long winter days stuck in the house there is so may things you can do.
Create a visual checklist broken down into 30-60 minute increments and include mommy/daddy and me time in there with different categories catered to your family’s interests. For example: art time, (stick to crayons if you don’t want to take out paint or scissors and have them draw a snowman or decorate a winter theme. Include music for a dance party. These are usually the best and if you make this as 1 of the first activities it may tire them out quick! I have dance parties as often as I can with children and it works. Take it from experience. J Maybe not for an hour unless of course your trying to fit in exercise for yourself! Make a fort and here’s the trick- if your worried about a mess then I suggest you have ground rules before you begin letting the children know that if they make a mess, they are required to clean up after themselves. They learn to clean up in preschool and daycare so if they do it there they can be taught at home. It is that simple. Incorporate mommy and daddy free time as well and communicate that it’s time to play independently. I highly suggest setting timers on your phone as you can lose track of time very easily especially if your kiddos have trouble listening. Quiet time is also a great suggestion as they do need to learn to quiet their body’s and mind as well. If it works for you to not have a schedule then GREAT. Some other tips: Free play, (anything they “want”) sensory activities such as kinetic sand, playdoh, shaving cream in the sink, tubby time, beans in a bucket. Sensory activities is huge especially on a day they may not be as active as it stimulates the nervous system and promotes connectivity to feeling calm and relaxed.
Now, for all my snowbirds and will do my best to encourage all the non-wintery individuals as well, get your butt outside even in the winter months. Yes, especially in the snowstorms! I spent at least 25 minutes outside shoveling, yes but also spent some time running around with my dog as he loves the snow, making snow angels, and chasing him in the yard. Do you know how freeing that feels? Children need to feel that feeling well, quite honesty daily and for some a few times a day so I invite you to get outside, build a snowman, make snow angels, and frolic. Once you get dressed you are half way there and once outside you will thank yourself for seeing those bright eyed smiles in the wintery mix.
Cheers to a snowy and happy 2018 Winter!
Amanda MS Ed., Ed
Founder of Parenting With a Punch