Weatherproof family activities this winter
Activities needn’t mean spending a lot of money – the most precious thing to your child is your undivided attention. They will enjoy any activity as long as you’re doing it together. Here we explore a range of ideas from cheap or free to more expensive ones; choose whichever works best for you and your family.
• Get creative in the kitchen: it’s never too early to learn some culinary basics, and you could even end up with some invaluable help in the kitchen. Teach the kids to cook all or part of their favourite meals (or yours), to bake a cake or make biscuits. If you’re not the best cook yourself, it really doesn’t matter – your children are a forgiving audience.
• Museums: Get out of the cold; many museums offer free entry and can offer a whole day of fun and learning. If you are going to be there for a few hours, pack your own picnic and snacks. Don’t forget to check website for additional activities that are run during the school holidays, from messy play sessions for your youngsters to tutorials for your elder children.
• A winter walk: wrap up warm and pull on some boots for playing in the snow – or mud – and enjoy seeing the changing seasons. Challenge children to spot signs of winter in nature – what creatures can they see? What creatures have disappeared since the warmer months? Why have some trees lost their leaves but others haven’t? A brisk walk will also warm them up and help them work off some of the restless energy they’ve built up by being indoors. If they need a bit of motivation to get home, promise them a cup of hot chocolate to warm their chilly fingers.
• Crafts at home: cutting out paper snowflakes or getting messy with paint and glue is one of the joys of a bad weather day; it lets your children really use their creativity and make precious treasures for you to display! It also provides a good opportunity for a valuable lesson in tidying up – make it fun by timing how long it takes them.
• Writing letters. Do you have friends and family members that would appreciate receiving an unexpected letter from your child? Encourage your child to write a letter that discusses what they’re interested in at the moment – they’ll be able to re-read the letter in future and marvel at how the things that were once so important to them have changed. Ask them to include what they really like and value about the recipient of the letter. Too often we are so busy we forget to tell people how much we appreciate them – it can mean so much to receive a heartfelt letter from someone you care about. You may even want to use your craft session to make a card to send, and you could make posting the letter one of the things you do on your winter walk.
• Going to the cinema: the movie industry is very well aware that the winter is a great time to stay indoors, and they schedule an exciting selection of films throughout the season: for example, Frozen 2; Star Wars Episode 9 – The Rise of Skywalker; and Spies in Disguise. There are often great deals on family cinema tickets, but you’ll pay a premium if you give in to the foyer popcorn and buckets of fizzy drinks. It’s far better for your children – and your pocket – if you take in a bottle of water and steer clear of the sweets. Many cinemas also show older family favourites earlier in the day for a cheaper ticket price – check if this is something your local cinema offers.
• Ice skating: it doesn’t have to freeze over to enjoy ice skating, as pop-up outdoor skating rinks are set up around the country for the winter holidays. You’ll see them outside museums and other visitor attractions, town centres, and sometimes in shopping centres. You don’t have to be experienced, or even graceful; in fact, you can teach your children an important lesson about having a go at something you’re not confident or good at – and having fun! You can rent some boots there, and many rinks offer penguin skating aids for kids and beginners (basically something for you to hold on to as you navigate your way across the ice).
• A trip to the theatre: step out of the weather and into a completely different world! Touring theatre productions for all ages can provide a holiday treat. Look out for matinees running alongside children’s craft workshops, afternoon teas, or ‘meet the cast’ events aimed at the younger audience. You may want to plan this trip together with friends or family members as it is often possible to get reductions for group tickets.
• Winter markets: these German and Scandinavian imports have quickly become a picturesque British tradition. If you don’t live near to a venue hosting one of these markets, check with local travel companies, who often organise day trips. Once you’re there, it’s easy to get carried away by the cosy atmosphere and dizzying assortment of gifts and street food, so make sure you know your budget – and stick to it.
If you’ve tried all these activities and you still find the British winter too dark and cold, remember that the end of the year is also a great time to make resolutions. You and your family could discuss adopting a new positive behaviour, accomplishing a personal goal, or making small changes that potentially bring big improvements to your lives.
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