Get Your Kids Outdoors this Winter
Keeping kids interested in the outdoors is challenging enough. With things like video games, tables and smart phones so easily accessible it makes it tough sometimes to get them interested in getting outdoors. After all, they can easily go on YouTube and just watch someone else explain and tell them about the outdoors without having to even put their shoes on.
I feel it’s our job as parents to give them opportunities to get out and experience the outdoors themselves. When I was a kid, it was easier, my parents would just say get outside and we would figure it out. Summer was easy, you had a lot of daylight and warm weather. No need to bundle up to enjoy getting outside. Just throw on a t-shirt and shorts, grab the bike and go. Winter however has its own challenges, it gets darker earlier and getting bundled up can be a chore, especially if you have smaller kids. We’ve all can relate to the scene from a Christmas Story of little Randy getting all bundled up just to go do school. But even as a kid, we still got home from school with a little daylight left to get out and get some fresh air.
Getting kids interested in getting outdoors at an early age is really important. I know with my own kids, just getting outside for an hour greatly improves their mood and sleep. Plus, they learn to interact with each other without having a device in their hands. (And my wife and I are really good about limiting screen time.) But there are times that you need to come up with things to do for them in order to keep them interested. After all it’s cold out there and having nothing to do in the cold is really the worst. So, bundle the kids up and send them outside with a few of these ideas to have a little fun in the snow this winter.
· Build a fort and prepare for battle
Is there anything more fun than building a fort or two and staging a classic medieval style battle? You can purchase snow block molds and snow ball molds to make the job even easier. Make it even more interesting by setting up a flag in-between each fort and try to see who can get to it first. It’s an activity that all the neighborhood kids can get involved in. And you can help by showing off your snow building skills and deadly snowball accuracy.
· Build a Snowman
Staying with the building theme. The most popular and widely known winter activity is building a snowman. It’s something we’ve all done at least once in our lives and it always seems to come down to who can make the tallest snowman in the neighborhood. Depending on your kid's dedication, they may need your help with this one depending on the weight of the snow. It makes for a great family activity. Be creative, build a snow family, or a snowman standing on their head or a snowman football team. There is no wrong way to build a snowman.
· Go Sledding
As a kid, I loved sledding. All the kids in our small town would gather at the popular hill in town and sled all day. Staging races and swapping sleds to see what one was the fastest. If you’re lucky enough to have your own hill, it can be a great way to get the kids outside. Sleds are cheap fun and you can even purchase a few of the inflatable ones for some really fast speeds. Climbing back to the top is always great exercise and it makes the trip down worth the effort.
· Skiing/Cross Country or Downhill
Depending on the age of your kids and their skill level, skiing can be a great way to get the whole family out. Teaching your kids to ski will also give them something that they can do and use their whole life. If you’re new to downhill skiing, most ski hills offer lessons and easier slopes for beginners. Same with cross country skiing, with a little research, you can rent skis for a day and get a feel for it before you make a big investment. There is a bit more cost involves in skiing, but enjoying the day on the slope can be a great experience for your kids.
Snowshoeing is growing in popularity each year and is a great way to get your kids outdoors this winter. Wisconsin offers thousands of miles of trails making this one of those activities that’s easily accessible. Like skiing, it may be better to find a place to rent shoes first before investing in them. Snowshoeing is also a great way to peacefully take in nature and just enjoy the quiet and beauty of Wisconsin. It’s something that your kids may not appreciate the right away, but they’ll be thankful when they look back at fun you all had together enjoying the outdoors.
· Make Snow Paint
I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t tried this one yet, but I know my girls would like it. Most people seem to complain about the bleakness of winter and how they miss seeing color. Now you can change that. Get your kids some spray bottles filled with water and some food coloring and let them turn that black canvas in your yard into a masterpiece. Fill different bottles with different colors and let the kids create wonder works of snow art. The best part is that when the next snowfall happens, they can start all over.
Honestly, it really doesn’t matter what you do to get your kids outdoors this winter. Just get them outdoors. There are a lot of different activities and games they can do in the snow. Give them a little bit of time and I think you’ll be surprised at what they can come up. After all, we did. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself out there having fun again as one of Wisconsin’s Outdoor Explorers.