Anybody who spends time in the company of children knows there are ‘full moon’ effects and ‘cabin fever’ effects whether there is any scientific, verifiable proof or not. Kids need ways to expend those excesses of energy that just seem to come to them naturally. So the smart parent gets creative and plans ahead.
Winter sports come to mind first, sledding, snow boarding and ice-skating being the most obvious. Out our back door and off the back patio is the perfect hill. We have a toboggan, two traditional sleds with runners, and a couple of those little round dishes stored in the garage. We all spend winter afternoons out back, kids and adults alike, and then come in to warm up with cups of hot chocolate brimful of melting marshmallows.
Consider a winter sport that isn’t so traditional. Our Beach Ottumwa has open swimming from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for only three bucks. The kids love it, and have learned the front crawl and back stroke in the last three months. It’s also an opportunity for moms to get exercise they probably otherwise wouldn’t.
Find out if your school hosts a winter ‘Invention Convention’. It’s a way for children to learn through exploration and play, and to socialize and interact while doing it. It’s guaranteed to provide constructive winter activities for several winter afternoons and at least one evening.
Make bird feeders out of kitchen staples. Half a bagel spread with peanut butter, sprinkled with bird seed, and strung with a ribbon is a snap to make, is a load of fun with a minimum of fuss, and is easy to hang on the branch of an evergreen in your front or back yard. Or get wood scraps from the local lumber store, and build a bird house to hang from that branch outside your dining-room window. Then enjoy it for months to come.
Gingerbread houses should be a childhood memory for every child. Kits can now be purchased at most local discount stores in December and early January when holiday items are discounted. Even adults love getting sticky fingers with this project. The trick to a successful gingerbread house is, if at first it doesn’t stand up, let the frosting sit long enough to get slightly tacky, and try, try, again. Chances are, it will work, and if it doesn’t, everybody has a delicious snack and a lot of laughs anyway.
Try a field trip to your local library and a wintry afternoon curled up on the sofa reading a good book. Revisit some of your childhood favorites like Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner and introduce your children to them.
With some advance planning, this can become a winter for your children to remember for a lifetime. Isn’t making memories what it’s really all about?