The holidays are over. All of the feasts were devoured with pleasure. The decorations were taken down and put away. Our friends and family have gone into hibernation. We are left with a feeling of larger waists, barer walls, and isolation. Old Man Winter has settled in and he is not leaving us for a few months.
Instead of dreading this time of year, try embracing it. Winter is unique. Our lives slow down a little. Winter is the only time of year when we can find the greatest temperature change between the inside of our house and the outdoors. We are given the best of both worlds, if only for a short time. Make the most of it.
1. Have an indoor picnic. Spread out a blanket in the family room. Make burgers on the grill and potato salad on the side. You get everything but the bees and ants!
2. Get out in the sun. Try snowshoeing, sledding or making a snowman. Breathe in the brisk air and see your warm breath when it hits the cold.
3. Plan a game night. Winter’s cold nights keep us indoors. Encourage your family to shut off the TV, sit around the table and do something together.
4. Head to the zoo. While most visits occur during the warmer months, zoos are open year-round. See the animals and exhibits in a different light by visiting this winter.
5. Make a bird/squirrel feeder. Snow, frozen ground and lack of vegetation makes it hard for wildlife to find food. Make simple feeders out of peanut butter and seed to hang from the trees.
6. Go on a cold weather vacation. Instead getting away from winter, try enjoying it by going ice fishing or dog sledding. If you don’t have snow in your town, plan to visit an area that does.
7. Play video dance or karaoke together. It’s an excellent way to get exercise and have fun with the family. Your kids will get a kick out of watching mom and dad play video games.
8. Use an indoor pool or outdoor hot tub. Wearing a bathing suit in the winter makes us feel like we are pulling one over on Mother Nature.
9. Go on a hike. Load up your camera and take a hike in your local forest preserve. Capture the beauty of winter around you.
10. Movie night. Try a twist on the usual movies in your library. Pull out the family movies from your last vacation, your son’s first birthday or your wedding. Pop some popcorn and experience those moments again.
11. Roast hotdogs and s’mores over the fire pit. Call friends to pull up a chair and get warm. It’s a great way to get out with the neighbors after being cooped up on winter days.
12. Fill water bottles with food coloring and water. Play Tic-tac-toe in the snow or draw pictures. The white snow is a blank canvas for artists of all ages.
13. Build a fort in the living room. Pull out all the couch cushions and blankets and make a fort the whole family can fit in. Roll out the sleeping bags and spend the night in the fort.
14. Make ice cream with snow. Collect 8 to 12 cups of fresh snow in a large clean bowl. Add 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Stir and serve immediately.
15. Plan your summer vacation. When winter gets you down, make plans for your summer vacation. Search online together for fun places to visit and start a vacation countdown on your calendar.
16. Bake something new. Pull out the recipe books and find a new family friendly recipe to try. Get everyone involved in the planning and baking. Share your creation with family and friends.
17. Start an indoor garden. Teach your children about the growing cycle of plants. Buy packages of vegetable or flower seeds and watch them grow into seedlings. Plant them in the spring and enjoy them all summer long.
18. Make homemade hot cocoa. Store bought packages and K-cups are quick, but not as good as homemade. Mix 1 cup of milk, 1 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. cocoa and ¼ tsp. vanilla. Heat on stovetop and serve with marshmallows or whipped cream.
19. Play Flashlight tag. Take advantage of the shorter daylight hours. Bring flashlights outside after the sun goes down. Try to tag others with the light from your flashlight.
20. Snuggle up and read a book. When the winds are howling and the temperature drops, sometimes it is better to appreciate winter from the inside.
Pam Molnar is a freelance journalist and mother of three. Pam and her family look forward to the arrival and slower pace of winter.