Six Ways to Keep Winter Blues at Bay

Helping Parents Keep Their Wits on Long Winter Days

For parents with little ones, winter days can feel like an eternity.

Cold temperatures, weather hazards, the dreaded cold and flu season, and the onset of cabin fever can lead to a frustrating loop of, “I’m bored” and “What are we going to do NOW?”

How do you keep your kids healthy, happy, and help everyone keep their wits?

Here are six ways to keep winter blues at bay:

1. Turn off technology. WHAT? Seems counterintuitive—right? It’s an easy go-to for winter storm relief but a little Minecraft goes a long way. A steady stream of screen-time can do more harm than good. Keep your technology limits in place and turn to alternatives that engage kids’ minds and bodies.

2. Think outside the living room. Have a YMCA nearby? An indoor trampoline arena? Art and science museum? Gym with a kid zone? Aquarium? In almost every area there are places where your family can learn, laugh, and burn off a little energy while exploring – or engaging in some physical activity.

3. Get creative. Once a week, sit down with your kids and brainstorm 10 family fun time ideas for the week. Then, see how many you can check off! Here are a few ideas:

  • Build a blanket fort
  • Go indoor “camping” – tent and all
  • Bake cakes in cups
  • Try new recipes
  • Play with clay
  • Break out rolls of craft paper with crayons and markers
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Set up an indoor obstacle course
  • Play hide and seek
  • Invest in science experiments
  • Read books together
  • Write stories together
  • Explore new music or instruments
  • Have a dance party
  • Have an indoor picnic
  • Play games
  • Create new games
  • Go “swimming” in the tub
  • Have a movie marathon
  • Organize playdates

There are hundreds of ways to keep kids engaged and entertained, and fortunately for us, an entire internet filled with ideas.

4. Let the Light In. Some of what invites a downward turn in emotion is simply the lack of light in the winter time. Without that big dose of Vitamin D from the sun every day, it’s easier to feel blue. Be sure to open the curtains, turn on the lights, make things as bright as you can in your living and play spaces. Even if it’s not a bright, sunny 80-degree day – you can invite in light in other ways.

5. Remember Routines.  With cold weather zapping everyone’s energy and snow days throwing a monkey wrench into outdoor plans, it’s easy to get lazy about regular routines. Combat schedule sluggishness by sticking to your set routines each day—even when bad weather cancels school or quells activities.  When the expectation exists that household jobs and homework continue to be done daily, they’ll be no need for questioning or quarreling later.

6. Look for Silver Linings.  It’s easy for discouragement to settle in when your child’s favorite outdoor activities get curbed. Make it a practice to help your kids be mindful and in the present – even when things don’t go their way. Steer the narrative away from the bad weather to the fun activities of the day, the blessing of time together and the opportunity to get creative. Helping kids shift their mindsets now will not only get you through the gray days of winter, but will help them see the silver linings throughout the major and minor upsets of life.

Whatever the season, there are always ways to promote healthy, happy, positive practices that make the weather matter less and the time together matter more. It is often in those creative, out-of-the-norm moments when some of the best memories are made. Enjoy them.

Stay warm and safe, and as always – happy parenting!


About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.