Surviving Winter

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surviving winterI don’t know about you, but every winter, I find myself (and my kids) getting antsy by the end of January, wishing that spring was here already. While the Romans probably weren’t battling the winter blues when they decided to make February only 28 days long, I often find myself thankful that it is the shortest month because somehow making it to March seems to give me optimism that spring will be here soon.

And this winter, with fewer out-and-about activities than normal, I have been relying on crowdsourcing ideas because my old stand-by ideas just aren’t cutting it anymore. So if you and your kids are like us and need to survive the last few weeks of winter, here are a few ideas for you to keep busy so you can stay sane until the weather warms up.

To get new ideas for things to do with your little one, check out Darling Little Details and Busy Toddler – who doesn’t need to find a way to break the routine of reading the same book or listening to that favorite electric toy! Also, Kids Made Modern has great crafts and kits and some online craft classes to guide you through a lot of project ideas.

If your kiddo wants more sensory play, check out Young Wild and Friedman, where they have kit subscriptions, sensory bins, and more – think playdough or kinetic sand, plus lots of fun theme-based toys to use with it (I love the Space Sensory Bin, which has rocks, astronaut action figures, space ships, stars and more).

For older kids that love watching Kids Baking Champion together, check out the Young Chefs’ Club from Americas Test Kitchen. As a scientist, I have always loved their systematic approach to recipe creation. Here is a totally kids accessible club that teaches baking (and cooking) in an approachable way for kids. This kit even helped me be brave enough to make homemade pasta for the first time (and it was really delicious).

If you are into STEM or educational activities, definitely check out Little Passports (ages 3+), Kiwi Crates (even has kits for ages 0-104), and MEL science kits (both Chemistry and Physics kits for ages 10+). As a chemistry educator, I can vouch for the high-quality content of all of these kits – my kids loved learning about Naples and Hong Kong, making catapults, and using flames and batteries (with parental supervision) to do chemical conversions.

If art lessons are more of your thing, the Art Kids Hub will give kids of all ages ideas on drawing everything from Grogu to historical figures like Ruby Bridges – my son loved making T-rex valentines thanks to their videos. And since kids always need help learning about kindness for themselves and others, you can check out Little Loving Hands, which has subscription kits and projects like making scarfs for the homeless or a centerpiece to remind the family to kind at home.

And if you need to get out of the house, you can always pray for snow so the kiddos will get outside to build forts or go sledding, but if you need more ideas, try for the 1000 Hours Outside challenge – the anti-screentime webpage and blog with lots of ideas to engage your kids in daily outdoor play, plus cool printable trackers to help keep track (or if you are in my family – bribery, a.k.a. rewards for completing tasks).

You can check out any of the awesome local destinations that keep it fun (and safe), like Hands on Pottery to do crafts (also projects to-go are available). Or if you need your kids to expend energy, Shoreline Swim School and Goldfish Swim School are amazing, awesome, and have reopened carefully – I have definitely loved going into a warm swim school on a cold day to imagine that I am somewhere tropical. Our family also loves World Champion Taekwondo, which has a great mix of structure and fun, plus the instructors always remind the kids to help out at home and do their school work (and I always appreciate someone else nagging my kids like I always do).

And when all else fails, get in the car and go to the Starbucks drive-thru to get yourself a cup of coffee and get them a cake pop. You will get a little pep in your step (thank you caffeine), and they will be grateful – even if only for the rest of the day. Sometimes it is just about doing whatever you can to survive!

I hope all these ideas help inspire you to try something new and ultimately help you find a little more sanity this winter. Stay warm, and remember Spring is almost here!

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