The winter blues are in full swing here at my house and my family is in need of some sort of “lifting of the winter spirits” exercise. You know, maybe something where we all get together in the morning, stand holding hands in a circle, and chant for the sun gods to shine some light and send some heat and bathing suit weather our way. I don’t know about where you live, but winter can get pretty damn depressing in the northeast. Every day is like groundhog day. Get up, look outside- cloudy. Make breakfast, get the kids dressed, start the car- freeze my ass off. Run back into the house, bundle the kids up in winter jackets-boots-hats-mittens, and scoot them out the door as quickly as possible- would you look at that it’s raining/sleeting/snowing/a blizzard. And pretty much every morning, I have the same conversation with my kids as we leave the house. Here’s my end:
“Hurry up and get in, I need to buckle you my head is getting wet.”
“Yes, you have to wear your hat, it’s cold.”
“Because I said so.”
“No, you can’t open your window.”
“Your boogies will freeze.”
“Sorry, but we can’t play outside today.”
“How are you going to roller skate in slush?”
“Your bike is put away for the winter.”
“I’m pretty sure your training wheels wouldn’t make it through that snow bank.”
“The park is closed.”
“Because they took the swings down.”
“No, we can’t go swimming.”
“Baby, it’s cold outside.”
As a mom of two very active and energetic young kids, the best way to keep them happy and thus maintain my sanity is to open the door and let them go, go, go. In spring, we throw on our rain gear and stomp in muddy puddles. In summer, we ride bikes, run through sprinklers, and picnic under a shady tree. In fall, we take hikes and go on nature walks.
Then comes winter.
It’s great in the beginning because the holiday season is in full throttle and the kids are preoccupied with Santa and sleigh rides. But then comes January, February, March. Can you say boring? After I’ve exhausted every do-it-yourself craft activity, book reading session, puzzle time, watch-momma-cook-dinner fun- and the kids are still bouncing off the walls, it’s time to bundle them up and brave the cold.
My kids are desperate to get outdoors in the winter even when it’s 6 degrees and I can’t say I blame them. I’m desperate, too. Being cooped up inside (home, work, school, daycare) for months on end starts to take it’s toll. Any sign of sunlight and 30+ degree temperatures and my family is hitting the front yard like it’s an 80 degree beach day.
The benefits of keeping kids active during the winter are key to their optimum development and overall well being. Outdoor exercise builds strong bones and muscles, reduces stress, strengthens immunity, releases endorphins in the body, increases much needed Vitamin D levels, and allows for an overall better mood and night’s sleep.
So get outside with your kids even if it’s just for a brisk walk. And the next time you find yourself hauling out the Radio Flyer wagon and trudging through six inches of snow and slush in mid-February, know that I am right there with ya.