As a family we like to get out and about as much as we possibly can. The children are good little walkers and we do what we can to make the outdoors fun for them - whether that’s geocaching wildlife spotting, looking for/hiding painted rocks, or telling stories as we go. However, during the winter months getting outdoors, with minimal whinging, gets a bit difficult. This is what I do to make getting outside in winter a bit more enjoyable!
1) Wear/take appropriate clothing
First off, an obvious one, but it really makes all the difference. If you and the kids are cold, you are going to be grumpy and miserable before you’ve even got started. If the children are having a “but I don’t want to wear a hat/scarf/gloves/coat/jumper” moment, I don’t force them, but I do stuff it in my pocket or bag for when they inevitably change their mind. We tend to use waterproof suits and wellies, even if it’s not raining. That way they are happy to get stuck in without worrying about getting muddy or wet, and they don’t get filthy if they slip over or have a fall. The person I do tend to forget about is myself! I’m so worried about getting the children wrapped up I forget half my clothes...so remember to pick up your own hat and gloves!
2) Play a game as you go
Plan an activity as you’re out. If you’re going for a walk you could do a scavenger hunt, geocaching or play i-spy. If you’re visiting a country park, National Trust property, or similar, there may be a playground, or a space where you can take a ball to kick around. Last year we walked around the village and went on a Christmas Light Hunt. We’ll do the same again later in the month. A lot of local houses seem to have lights up already, but I’m sure there’s more to come. Plus, the kids think it’s really cheeky to go out in the dark.
3) Use your garden
If you’re having a day at home it’s easy to forget about the garden, and stay snuggled up on the sofa, but there’s no reason you can’t get wrapped up and do what you usually would in the summer - whether that’s playing catch, skipping, riding bikes, or just running around. If you don’t have a garden, make use of local parks and green spaces (if you’re lucky enough to have any). In the winter they tend to be pretty empty so you might find you have the place to yourself. Pop the children in their waterproof suits, or just arm yourself with an old towel so you can wipe down any soggy slides or swings.
4) Look after local wildlife
During the winter the local wildlife might be struggling. Get outside to feed the birds (maybe even make some fat balls at home), go feed the ducks, or maybe make a winter house for some of the creatures which visit your garden. My children made the bug hotel pictured below with their grandad.
5) Snack breaks
If all else fails, use bribery! A little sweetie break can sometimes be all the encouragement little legs need to go that bit further on a winter walk. We can make a little pack of sweets (or crisps, or raisins, or chocolate buttons, or whatever your snack of choice is!) last an awful long time. Alternatively, make the idea of getting home and cosied up sound super fun. “Once we’ve finished our walk, let’s get home, take off our soggy clothes, and cuddle up under a blanket with a Christmas film and a hot chocolate”. Sounds great to me!
Do you manage to get outside much over winter? What’s your favourite outdoor winter activity?