I know many Haligonians consider the best kind of winter family fun to be boarding a plane to a tropical destination however that’s not in the cards for this family. On our first date (which was in December 2007) my husband told me he loves winter and believes that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. I managed to keep a straight face and decided to see it as a challenge. Alright, buddy, show me how to make winter fun. And he did. We spent the first few winters of our relationship snow-shoeing, skating, skiing (or, rather, me attempting to ski), hiking, and having tons of fun in the snow. He even did a bike race on a frozen lake. Yep.
Fast forward eight years, two kids, and barely surviving the nightmarish winter of 2015, and when the snow started falling this year I gave it the worst stink eye I could muster up but it doesn't appear to be scared off. Winter is here, my love affair with the season has gone stale, the tropical vacation is not going to happen, and I've got to reignite my love of winter.
To accomplish this, I've decided to take on the challenge of winter fun again with
30 Days of Winter Play
(did you hear the big announcer voice there too?). The kids are always happy to go outside, it's me that's the problem, and, since they're only two and four they can't exactly go outside without me. Believe it or not, there are only two months left of (technical) winter left so my personal goal is to do something every other day.
If you want to join in I'd love some company. I'll be posting some suggested activities that you can do outside in the winter with itsy bitsy ones that take little, to zero, effort on your part. Here is the first set of suggestions. I'd love to hear if you try any and how they went!
Make a pile of snowballs (or snow chunks as we did) then create a target on the snow with a hula hoop or skipping rope - or just outline it with sticks or rocks. Have the kids stand on a marked spot and see how many snowballs they can get in the target. Easy peasy.
This is one I can't wait to try but I've seen it floating around the interwebs for awhile. Apparently if you blow bubbles outside and then catch them on the wand they will freeze and be pretty sparkly ice bubbles (till your rambunctious two year old likely smashes them). And, if it's not cold enough to freeze, them, there's still something pretty magical about bubbles sparkling atop a pile of snow.
Our first attempt at this it wasn't cold enough for frozen bubbles but turns out it's just as fun to chase them in the winter as it is in the summer!
Snow Art (with old markers)
If you're anything like me you've got piles of old, dried out markers you've been storing away for some day when you have the time to do that Pinterest trick to renew them. Now's the time to drag them out. The water in the snow will revive the dried up ink and make them work again so your kiddos can scribble on a blank piece of snow canvas till their hearts are content (just make sure they don't meander to the house, car or front steps with those things).
Snowfriend (because we like boy AND girl snowpeople in this house)
Well, obviously that's got to be in there. But before you head outside to build it, have the children hunt through the house for items to dress and decorate the snowfriend. Perhaps that gaudy - I mean gorgeous! - rhinestone necklace your child gave you for Christmas from the dollar store along with that feathery, floppy hat in the dress-up box, or a neck tie and old fedora, could take your snowfriend to a new level of style this year.
This is an old family favourite dating back to my childhood when my mother ran a nursery school out of our home. We did it last year and I posted the details here (bonus: this is a milk free recipe as Miss M used to have a milk protein allergy). We will do this again this year but plan to take it up a notch by adding some candies or fruit for toppings, and maybe some new flavourings such as a bit of lemon juice or chocolate sauce. Tip: this is best with freshly fallen snow to ensure it's clean (otherwise, ewwww).
Grab some cake and cupcake pans from your kitchen (if you have character molds, even better), some measuring cups, bowls, spatulas, and spoons and head outside to whip up some snow kitchen creations. If you're really fancy you can build a snow oven too but...yeah, let's just stick with the utensils and pans.
Since it gets dark so early right now it's a good chance to take advantage of it and get your kids outside after dinner. Give them some flashlights and go exploring in your yard or local playground and notice how different things look and sound in the evening. If you're lucky you'll see the moon and stars. Bonus: After the fresh air and exercise, throw in some post-excursion hot chocolate with milk and a warm bath and they should be passed out in bed before you can say Cheers!
PS You might want to stock up on hot chocolate - it's always a good post-activity bribe if the kids (or you) are a bit wary of going outside one day.
Check out Part Two of the series as well!
Do you love or loathe winter? What is your favourite winter activity?