How to reduce your stress, boost your mood, and ward off cabin fever at the same time

Ann Douglas is back with a mid-winter parenting pep talk as we head into week three of Project Active Family—and one of the coldest weeks of the year, too!

Forget April! January is the cruellest month when you’re a parent. The holidays are but a distant memory, the kids are getting restless, and spring feels impossibly far away. So how do you get inspired to be active with your kids when you’re tempted to curl up on the closest couch?

The best way to combat that mid-winter sense of inertia and to boost your mood at the same time is to grab your kids and head outdoors. Not only is it good for your mental health, it actually makes parenting easier. And that’s welcome news at any time of year!

How to get started

Not quite sure how to get started with active winter fun? Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully spark some ideas of your own. (And, speaking of those ideas, don’t forget to share them with us, too! You can post them in the comments section below.)

  • Plan a winter block party with your neighbours. (Where is it written that block parties have to be a summer thing?) Toss a Frisbee or kick a ball around in the snow. Or grab some pool noodles and a beach ball for a fun variation on street hockey.
  • Make snow angels—an entire flock of snow angels. This provides a surprisingly vigorous workout. You’re basically doing jumping jacks on your back.
  • Bundle up for an hour or two of skating or sledding or snow fort making. It’s all about choosing your favourite flavour of winter fun.
  • Get creative. Draw pictures in the snow with your feet. Or, if you prefer, use your footsteps to create a labyrinth or a maze instead.

Related read: Connect kids with winter on the five-senses walk


Remember: you are the secret ingredient in the recipe for family fun

Not sure that you’ll be able to sell your couch-loving kids on the joys of spending time outdoors?

Trust me, you have what it takes to get them excited and to keep them moving because you (yes, you!) are the secret ingredient in the recipe for family fun.

Think about it! Kids are so much more willing to head outdoors when they know a parent will be heading outdoors with them. That’s because they look forward to having your undivided attention, whether the two of you are making a snowman or just romping around in the snow together. That’s a huge motivator for any kid!

Of course, there will be days when the weather’s too grim to make any sort of outdoor activity tolerable, let alone fun. No one wants to make snow angels in the middle of an ice storm! When this happens, you simply need to come up with an equally fun way of staying active indoors while you wait for the storm to pass through. (And it will. I promise.)

-Ann

P.S. Have a story to share about your experiences in becoming a more active family—or some words of encouragement you’d like to pass along to another parent who’s on this journey, too? Please post your comment below or email me.

8 responses to “How to reduce your stress, boost your mood, and ward off cabin fever at the same time

  1. Every Year we start the New Year off with a good old game of street hockey on the 1st at 1pm. This year we had 30+ kids and parents play. They all treated to Timbits and Hot chocolate between “periods” (Looks like we got a theme going on with the street hockey games. )

    1. This is definitely a very Canadian thread! What a wonderful way to ring in the New Year, Annette. I’m totally inspired by the fact that you were able to attract such a large group of parents and kids. Think of all the memories that were made that day. Amazing.

  2. We have had big street hockey days on our street. Haven’t done in a few years so now is the time to get back at it!

    1. I have fond memories of community sledding parties when I was growing up. Ditto for getting together with other groups of parents/kids to go skating on the marsh near our house. Winter activities seem to be a lot more fun when a whole bunch of people are involved. (I’ll have to remind myself of this fact the next time I’m tempted to go into mid-winter hermit mode.) :-)

  3. I love the idea of a winter block party! So smart and what a fun memory for families to look back on. As a word of encouragement, I can’t recommend walking to school and back with your kids in all seasons. I know it’s tempting to drive in the winter but it’s such a great opportunity for fun and bonding with your child or children. If you can create this habit early you will raise kids who will be happy to walk in any weather!

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