winter fun

Every day Americans spend up to eight-and-a-half hours in front of a screen. Facebook might be the most important social platform for marketing businesses, but it’s certainly pervasive in our homes, as well. This may be a frightening fact for you to learn, but it becomes even more concerning when you realize that it is increasingly including our kids, too. And as the weather outside gets colder and snow starts to cover the ground, screens seem to become kids’ best friends. With some gentle redirection, adults can do a great deal to help reverse this trend — and keep children active and playing like they should be.

Here are easy ways to get your kids moving this winter.

1. Go Sledding

Sledding is a versatile activity that can take place in your backyard or on a much larger ski hill. Follow these simple safety tips to keep kids happy, healthy, and injury-free:

  • Pick hills carefully by always choosing locations with a wide, flat area to slow to a stop at the bottom
  • Purchase sleds with handles at the store, even if you got away with sledding down hills on an over-sized lid when you were a kid
  • Don’t let your kids sled face-first
  • Keep a close eye on children under 10 years old

By following these simple guidelines you can keep your children active and safe at the same time.

2. Start a Snowball Fight

The best thing about this option is that it requires no equipment or planning on your part. Go outside, pack snow into a ball, and start the time-honored tradition of having a snowball fight. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest snowball fight to date took place on January 31, 2016 in Saskatoon, Canada. An unbelievable 7,681 people took part in the record-breaking event.

3. Make Ice Cream Out of Snow

Some kids may not be tempted to go outside with just the idea of sledding or a snowball fight. If your child tends to burrow indoors playing video games or watching YouTube videos on their newfound interest in the Shelby Cobra roadster and needs a little extra incentive to venture outdoors, bribe them. Suggest making ice cream out of snow — but only after they play in the snow for a while. After working up a sweat outdoors, gather untouched snow in a clean bowl and bring it inside for a simple, four-ingredient snow-based ice cream. Start by mixing milk (non-dairy options work, too!), sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. You can prepare this mix ahead of time and keep it chilled until you are ready to gather your snow. Fold fresh snow in and you’re done. Top with rainbow or chocolate sprinkles and serve immediately.

4. Go Ice Skating

A surprising number of adults have never been ice skating. It’s never too late to learn. Learning a new skill with your child can be a wonderful bonding activity and it is a great way for everyone in your family to stay active and stay in shape. According to the Harvard Medical School, just 30 minutes of ice skating can burn up to 200 calories! Skating builds endurance, balance, and strength, particularly in the thighs, calves, and abdominal muscles. Most ice rinks offer lessons for children as young as 4 years old and these same rinks typically offer beginner lessons for adults, too.

5. Visit An Indoor Pool

Consider enrolling your kids in swimming lessons or encourage them to swim for fun at your local indoor pool. Why? It’s the most popular activity for kids ages seven to 17 and it’s an activity they can do year-round. By getting them enthusiastic about swimming in the winter, you may see them take the initiative to go swimming when summer comes.

Just be sure to prepare your nose. There is a big chance that kids will return from indoor and outdoor pools regularly smelling like chlorine. Relatively new ozone sanitation systems kill germs in pools just like chlorine and reduce its use up to 90%. However, it may take some time for community pools to embrace this new system. In the meantime, encourage your kids to always shower after taking a dip in the community pool.

6. Learn To Play Broomball

Think outside of the box. When most of us think about winter, we think about sledding, skiing, playing in the snow, and ice skating. In reality, there are a whole host of winter-specific activities for your kids to enjoy. Explore them all. Broomball, for instance, involves running around ice rinks wearing special, rubber-soled shoes, chasing a small ball, and trying to make goals using a triangle-topped stick, called a broom. Your kids will need helmets and pads to participate.

7. Keep It Simple

Kids are creative and they love taking part in activities that allow their imaginations to flourish. Schedule unstructured play-time in the snow. During this time, kids can play tag, make snowmen and snow angels, build a snow fort, or catch snowflakes on their tongues. In other words, they can do whatever they want to do. Fostering this sense of freedom and fun will encourage them to make it a daily habit and more regularly ask to play outdoors.

Physical activity and exercise are important, especially for kids. Young kids and teens need an hour of exercise every day; toddlers can get by with 30 minutes. Exercise improves kids’ heart health and lung capacity, keeps bones strong, and stabilizes children’s moods. Staying active with your kids is beneficial for you as well. Not only are you getting exercise, too, but you’re spending valuable bonding time with your little ones. And no matter what activity you do, it beats spending your winter days filing your income taxes or writing up home maintenance to-do lists. Considering 38% of heat is lost through windows and doors, you might even have a few items to take care of right away. Try one or all of the activities above to keep you and your kids moving this winter.