10 fun and cheap ways to battle the winter doldrums with your family

JANUARY 25, 2016 By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

That winter feeling of weariness, cabin fever or maybe just a sense of intangible “blah” is starting to set in.

While the beauty and warmth of spring will shake the doldrums off for most of us, you can bring a little sunshine into your home by mixing up routines, being playful and even engaging more with winter’s cold.

Here are some fun, cheap, kid-friendly ways to break out of the mid-winter doldrums.

  1. Bring some outdoors in You can’t shoo your kids outside to run off their energy after dinner, but you can push back your living room furniture and give everyone jump ropes and hula-hoops. Good for us grown-ups, too. In my house, we like to blow bubbles inside.
  2. Bundle everyone up Daily outdoor exercise benefits everyone — and in the cold even 15-20 minutes of fresh air gives you a burst of Vitamin D and fresh perspective. Elementary kids cranky? If they’ve had indoor recess, they may benefit from fresh air before sitting down to homework.
  3. Make it festive Everyone loves December with its lights and celebratory feeling in the air. You don’t need a major holiday to put some sparkle in the air. Blow up balloons, let the kids make paper snowflakes, get a bottle of sparkling cider and make a mid-winter party.
  4. Cook something new Many of us get into the routine of making our favorite recipes for dinner — especially when we’ve found what our kids like to eat. Break out of your routine by trying a recipe you’ve never made before — even better, bring the kids into the planning and cooking process with you. Look at recipes together and make a list of what you’ll need and have them look for those items at the grocery store.
  5. Dance party Drop everything — homework, chores, phone calls — and dance. Let everyone in the family pick a favorite song. Make a special playlist to bust the winter blues.
  6. Hide the toys And then bring them back. Has the glow of December holiday gifts worn out? Move things out of kids sight into a closet for a few days and when they get curious about the item, it may be like getting a new toy all over again.
  7. Read more Dark winter nights and cold winter weekends are ideal times to get lost in a book. Even older children benefit from being read to — so find something you’ll all enjoy. Or sit with your own book while you encourage kids to read — modeling reading also benefits kids.
  8. Change the lighting Many people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder benefit from Lightbox therapy, but also just increasing the light in your home can help. Look around for the dark corners? Could you add a floor lamp or table lamp? Good excuse for a trip to Ikea — another great indoor activity for the family,
  9. Visit a new place Philly has some many wonderful places for families to explore — and we all get into our ruts with where we take our kids.
  10. Be crabby together In our busy lives, it’s easy to become isolated from friends and neighbors. Reach out to someone you’ve been meaning to connect with — invite the family over to be crabby with your family. Bet if you let the kids decorate for a winter party and blow bubbles indoors, the crabbiness may lessen up a bit.

I’d love to hear your favorite mid-winter survival tips!

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