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One of the hardest things about winter time and the holiday season is the feeling that we’re always in high gear. It’s going from one house to the next and then meeting up with friends, your kids’ friends, and then special trips. Sometimes, the busy bee-like movements make it so much more exhausting than I’m prepared for. So, when there’s an opportunity to sit down with the kids and do an activity that lets us focus on that activity, I’m on board.
For anyone looking for a way to sit and decompress, while still spending time with their kids, here are the winter activities Meghan and I love to do and some translate well during any time of the year.
You want to talk about kids having fun, this is it! Now, I didn’t get on the ice rink with my kids, because as soon as my feet leave the ground, balance doesn’t seem to follow. Fortunately, Meghan can ice skate and so can her brother and sister-in-law. Our kids had a group skate and it was spectacular to watch.
One thing you’ll notice with your kids, especially during ice skating, is their resilience. They would try and try and try again. Even when they fell, they’d get back up. And I’m not talking about any old fall. I’m talking about landing HARD and painfully, leading to tears. Despite those tears, after a minute of talking to them. They want to keep going. So, if your kid has a tough fall and starts to cry, ask them, “Do you want to stop or do you want to keep ice skating?” This question lets them think about it and soon realize that they don’t want to quit. They want to keep going and have more fun!
So, don’t worry too much if they fall. They’re likely to realize they’d rather keep going and risk falling again than not continuing. That’s a huge plus factor for going ice skating. It helps build a certain sense of determination within them to keep going, despite it being difficult.
I’m serious. Playing Go Fish is one of the easiest things to do and the kids are always up for playing it. I know I mentioned this in our “stocking stuffer” post, so you know it’s absolutely a top game in our house right now. Depending on the set of cards you have, you can try different ways to describe the card you’re looking for. This works really well, especially if you have pre-readers. For our set, we have different kinds of sea life. We ask the kids, “Do you have purple fish?” And as they play the game longer, we incorporate the fish’s name, “Do you have purple fish named ‘Gil’?”
This really helps them get used to the names of the fish and then as they’ve gotten older, we start the spelling game with those names. This isn’t all of the time, because frankly, the kids have a blast laughing and making up their own names for the cards. Hey, if the kids are having fun and laughing, then that’s okay by me. When they laugh, there’s a good chance I’ll start laughing too. If you don’t have a specific “Go Fish” deck, any set of playing cards will work.
So, we have the version where each player draws a blind card that tells you where to move on the board. You draw either a single colored cube, a double colored cube, or a tasty treat located somewhere on the board. I will say that our youngest, Marshall, will sometimes get frustrated if he’s in the lead and then picks up a lollipop card that makes him move back. Just be ready to tell them it’s no big deal and a rematch is always a fun way to let them try again, while hopefully letting them deal with losing.
We have a Frozen-themed game. We don’t exactly follow all of the rules, so it’s easier for the kids and to avoid frustrations. They’re four and six now, so when we started playing it last year, we decided to make it simple. You move however many spaces the die lands on. The kids don’t have to worry about hitting a certain number to leave their starting point AND they don’t have to hit an exact number to land in the final slots to win the game.
We went by the rules the very first time we played and our kids were definitely more frustrated about trying to get the right number just to leave the starting point. And, they didn’t really understand why they couldn’t get “Home” if they didn’t get the exact number. So, we simplified the game for them. Ever since we’ve made this adjustment, they’ve enjoyed this game without any trouble.
Okay, so this is essentially just trying to spot your kids as they peek around the corner of the room, but it’s evolved into something much more entertaining. So, say you’re in the kitchen and you suddenly get that “someone is watching me” feeling. Yep, your kids have decided to play “Ninja.” They hide back behind the frame of the doorway, even if you do see them. Their screeches get louder when they know you saw them.
If you want to pick it up a notch, begin the chase! Start walking toward them and watch as they scurry away. Instead of staying put, keep going after them. It’ll soon turn into your kids running around in circles trying to get away as you extend your arms, almost zombie-like, as you try to catch them.
This is probably my kids’ favorite activity and they always – and I mean ALWAYS – want me to start chasing them. They’ll even come up behind me on the couch and pop up and down to see if they can avoid being seen.
Helping Them Write or Crafting in Any Way
This is possibly the easiest thing to do on this list. Yes, there are times when Meghan and I are meal planning or making dinner, or we just got home from shopping and we just don’t want to do anything but sit down for a few minutes. But, when the kids ask you to help them write, absolutely do it!
If your kid is curious about writing by copying text from food containers or a book they’re reading or a box of red wine that we keep on the kitchen counter (*sigh*), then be a part of that whenever they ask. They want to learn and there is never anything wrong with that. Sometimes, their interests sway from one thing to the next. For example, Adelaide is much more interested in writing or drawing than reading at the moment, so give her the freedom to do that by helping her when she asks for help.
I think it’s very interesting to see how creative our kids want to be, whether it’s writing, coloring, or drawing whatever they see fit to draw. This makes me a very happy winey parent whenever they’re enjoying craft time. It’s almost like an extension for their time spent in the classroom, and if I can get them to continue loving school, then that’s a huge win.
If your kids aren’t so much into writing at the moment, check out some of our crafting activities and give those a try! I promise, they are low-prep and lots of fun.
Pop some popcorn and snuggle up on the couch together as a family. Your kids will love getting the snuggle time in with you, but honestly, I think they like the popcorn and screen time too! The key to this one is to make it a family event. Of course, you can put a movie on for the kids and then go do your own thing, but they won’t sit and watch it for as long if you aren’t with them. Hint: they just want to be with YOU!
Paint Their Nails
We were gifted some “Piggy Paint” one year for Adelaide’s birthday. Piggy Paint is a non-toxic, kid safe nail polish, so we feel ok with using it on our kids. They are always asking if they can paint their nails or paint Daddy’s nails (phew, I dodged that bullet!) Put down some sort of floor protector, because kids, and get to painting those nails. They will look atrocious when you are done, but the kids are having fun, so it’s worth it. Just make sure you make them sit until it is completely dry unless you want to find little smudges of nail polish all over your house!
Bundle up and head outside. Bonus if it happens to snow over your winter break. Have a snowball fight, go sledding, build a snowman, make snow cream, or make snow angels. Don’t forget to have some hot chocolate ready when you head back inside. If you don’t get any snow over break, that’s ok, you can still get outside. Go for a walk to look at decorations or lights (after dark of course!) or try out that new scooter, bike, skateboard, or toy they got for the holidays. Your kids will love being able to run around outside and that doesn’t change, even when it’s cold out.
Take a Breath
So, even when the holidays come and go, there are still times when we’ll feel that sense of, “I just want to sit down for a few minutes,” and that’s okay. It’ll be okay if you tell them to wait a few minutes. It’ll be okay if you say, “Not right now.” It’ll be okay if you jump up and say, “Sure, what do you need help with?” Your kids are going to adore you either way. And, if you can find time to fit in different activities, they’ll have something to look forward to when you do tell them to wait a little bit.
So take a deep breath and know you’ve got some activities to hold onto whenever your kids are looking for something to do.