Keeping kids active in winter

The hustle and fun of Christmas is now behind us, and the weather is not being kind. It can be a real challenge keeping your kids active in the colder months, and it’s very tempting just to snuggle up inside, but there’s a lot of fun to be had outside, with benefits for all the family.

It may be difficult to convince your kids to get outside if it’s cold or damp, but if you have a positive attitude, they can follow your lead. Playing outside gives children experiences they cannot get while playing indoors; with increased vitamin d, fresh air, new things to see and feel, and physical activity that uses different muscle groups.

When it’s cold and grey outside there are some easy ways to keep warm and stop complaints. It’s better to wear multiple thin layers than a single thick layer to keep body heat in, so pop a vest, long sleeved top and a jumper on your little ones, and don’t forget the extremities! Consider hats, earmuffs, gloves and even extra socks if you need to. Wellies are a must in wet weather, and with raincoats and umbrellas a bit of drizzle won’t need to stop you enjoying the outdoors either.

If you don’t often get outside to play in winter months, don’t try and venture too far initially. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere when everyone’s had enough won’t be fun! Stay relatively close to home or near to a cafe or the car if you need to come back. Taking a flask of hot chocolate or stopping somewhere for hot drinks is also a lovely way to keep warm when you’re out and about.

Consider going out as a group, with some family or friends with children. With more people to get involved there are more ways to stay occupied and keep games going, and everyone could have more fun together.

So what to do while you’re out? Here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy time outdoors:

  • Go to the park — so simple! You may need to take a tea towel or something to wipe down the slide or the swings but the park is great at any time of year, and Southampton had loads of them to choose from. Let your kids run free and enjoy themselves, and get yourself on the swings too!
  • Travel by wheels — whether it’s on bikes, skateboards, scooters or whatever else you’ve got, getting out on wheels is great fun for your kids. They can whizz about, build their confidence and try new things. You could even visit a skate park so that they can practice on different surfaces in a safer environment.
  • Try puddle hunting — my toddler LOVES looking for puddles, and often if she’s slow on her fee, finding puddles will get her going in no time, jumping in every one along the way. Splashing in small rivers and streams is also great fun if you have bigger kids who want a little more of a challenge (stay away from larger water flows though).
  • Look out for wildlife — even in winter there are lots of different animals and bugs to be found. Try spotting different birds, or taking a magnifying glass and seeing what you can find crawling through the leaves.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt — maybe you can look for items of a particular colour, set a list before you eave home, or just try and collect as many as you can of one thing, but scavenger hunts are great fun. Competing to be the first to find something can be a motivator for youngsters (or adults!), or perhaps you want to try and find something new.

However you do it, getting outside really can be fun for all the family, and we hope that this article might have given you some ideas and inspire you to get outside with your kids. We’d also love to know how else you have fun with the family in winter time when outdoors, so share any stories you’ve got with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @Southamptonkids

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