The holiday season brings shorter days and wintry weather, both of which basically equal less time for your kids to play outside and enjoy the fresh air. Although it's fun at first to experience the coziness that comes from being cooped up with your kiddos in the house, after a while the lack of outdoor play can produce that boredom-laced feeling of restlessness--a.k.a. "cabin fever"--that kids often experience during winter break. So what can you do to keep your kids active and moving when the weather outside is frightful? Read on for some ideas.
1. Create an indoor obstacle course.
Couch cushions, stuffed animals, chairs, and basically anything that can be arranged in an interesting format can be used to develop an obstacle course for your kids to navigate. You can put a few chairs in a row and challenge them to wriggle through them in military "low-crawl" fashion, or put some masking tape on the floor to create a makeshift hopscotch grid. When it comes to obstacle course design, the zanier the better; you can also opt to have your kids come up with their own course designs, which will be entertaining to watch, to say the least.
2. If it snows, take advantage.
Unless the weather is bone-chillingly bitter, let your kids go outside and play in the snow. They'll get plenty of exercise plodding through the white powder while building a snowman, constructing a snow fort or attempting the next epic sled run. If there are other kids in the neighborhood, a snowball fight is virtually mandatory.
3. Go bowling.
Bowling is a classic go-to activity for indoor fun. If your local bowling alley offers additional recreational options such as a video game arcade, so much the better.
4. Try laser tag.
Indoor laser tag arenas continue to spring up all over the place, so if you have one in your town, round up the kids and engage in a laser tag battle for the ages. Most arenas now are equipped with all kinds of cool obstacles and multi-level platforms, which will fully immerse your kids in the laser tag experience.
5. Get crafty.
Kids are already wildly imaginative, so if you put enough of the right tools and accessories in their hands, they can surprise you with the results. Assemble an all-purpose craft kit by filling a good-sized storage bin with these items:
- Construction paper
- Pipe cleaners (different colors)
- Washable markers
- Fabric or felt pieces
- Hole punch (maybe with special shapes)
- String or yarn
- Glue bottles or glue sticks
- Brown paper lunch bags
- "Googly eyes"
- Popsicle sticks
You get the idea. Now all you have to do is let them loose!
6. Try indoor play or amusement centers.
Otherwise known as Utopia for young kids, these indoor facilities typically feature inflatable bouncy houses, gigantic slides and various assemblages of objects that can be jumped over, crawled through or climbed upon. Sometimes these facilities can be a little on the pricey side, so you might want to save this one for when the cabin fever hits fever pitch.
7. Take them to Five Seasons!
For an equally fun but far less financially draining option, try taking your kids with you to Five Seasons Family Sports Club. Their "Kids Club" program offers tons of fun and engaging activities for kids including playing games, making crafts and reading stories, all within a safe and kid-friendly environment. So while your little ones are busy frolicking around in Kids Club, you can enjoy all of the amenities that Five Seasons has to offer for us "larger kids" including tennis, fitness classes, racquetball, basketball and swimming.
8. Play motion-controlled video games.
Most parents dread the thought of their child sitting motionless in front of a video game console with only the movement of their thumbs indicating any signs of life. Fortunately, there's an entire genre of motion-controlled video games that require full-body movement in order to play, which most kids will love. Whether you choose the Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Move or the Wii, there are plenty of dance games or sports/adventure games that will get your children's blood pumping and offer hours of fun, engaging and active play.
9. Plan a play date.
No doubt there are parents with kids who are the same age as your kids, and are suffering through their own bouts of cabin fever; why not reach out and invite them over for a play date? Friends have a way of revitalizing your kids' interest in their own tired toys, and they can keep each other company for hours on end. Not only that, but if you're fairly close with the parents, you can use that time to catch up and enjoy some good conversation.
This list is just a small example of the many things you can do to keep cabin fever from rearing its ugly head. All you really have to do is let loose and get creative with your kids--bake holiday treats together, create sock puppets, practice juggling, go on an indoor scavenger hunt, the list goes on and on. By putting tips like these into practice, you'll be able to keep your kids' minds and bodies active throughout the winter.