Winter is a season that, when we’re not in it, makes us think of beautiful snowy landscapes, happy kids playing in the cold with red noses, Christmas lights, cookies, and love….. Buuuut when it actually rolls around, we often find ourselves struggling with the desire to bundle up and go outside, determine what to say yes/no to doing to have the “Best Christmas EVER,” and deal with the dreaded cabin fever.

I reached out to my Facebook Group audience to find out what they find themselves struggling with the most in the winter months, and I’m answering with some tips to the top 3 responses….

WHEN IT’S SO COLD THAT NO ONE WANTS TO GO OUTSIDE:

Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s the kids, maybe it’s your partner or teaching assistant…. but when the time to go outside during the day rolls around, there’s a groan from somewhere in the room. How do you balance the daily need that kids have to get outside with colder temperatures, biting wind, and someone’s lack of desire (or straight-up refusal) to get bundled up and get out the door?

My first tip here is to make the “getting outside” process as seamless of a transition as possible. I know that it can be a struggle if you have multiple people to help get geared up with all of the accoutrements that come with winter bundling – gloves, hats, scarves, socks, boots, snowsuits, etc. but if you have feelings of frustration before you even start, the kids will pick up on that. Instead, make it a fun process! Have a “getting dressed for outside” song that you play while everyone works to get ready – “Let it Snow” for example – and challenge yourselves to be all dressed and ready before the song ends! 

Second, have enticing ideas ready to encourage outdoor play – get everyone excited about wanting to be out there!! Make treats for birds and hang them outside. Blow frozen bubbles. Search for animal tracks. There’s no shortage of ideas that make being outside when it’s cold so fun that you forget about the cold! Need ideas? Here are some free onesand this Holiday Theme Bundle will give you MONTHS of great ideas!

It’s also great to take normal, everyday activities and do them outside. Read a book, have a snow picnic for lunch, exercise to get blood pumping, take some art supplies out, etc.

Finally, lower your expectations!! If you only spend five minutes outside and everyone is ready to come in, it was still a success. Don’t let shorter play times discourage you from going out the next day. Talk about the fun moments that you had together to focus on the positives.

WHEN IT’S ACTUALLY TOO MISERABLE TO BE OUTSIDE/CABIN FEVER:

There are definitely going to be days where going outside just isn’t an option – either the wind chill makes it too dangerously cold, someone isn’t feeling well, or some other reason. This doesn’t mean that you have to sit and stare at a screen all day! 

Plan fun indoor activities and make sure you have an engaging learning space indoors so that even if you can’t go outside, there is still plenty of discovery and creating to be had indoors. Need help setting up your learning space? This will help. 

Also, anytime you can (and you can ANYTIME), bring nature indoors! So many of the benefits of exploring in nature are still there when nature comes inside. Scoop a bucket of snow and dump it on a tarp in the kitchen with all kinds of exploration tools! Create ornaments with pinecones and art supplies. Break off some icicles and experiment with melting them with various kitchen supplies. Do some baking with the kids (Great kid-friendly recipes here). 

Basically…. ENJOY your time inside together! 

HOLIDAY BUDGETING…. NOT JUST YOUR MOOLAH

The holiday season is one that’s chock full of fun opportunities to explore with your family….. that can quickly drain your wallet and energy! Budgeting your money AND time is a super helpful way to make sure that no one is over-extending themselves. Sure, there are so many things that you could say yes to, but if you say yes to everything, they all suddenly become less enjoyable. 

So how do you decide what to do and what to save for next year? Have a family meeting and let everyone decide on one thing they really want to do for the season. Or everyone puts three ideas on papers in a hat and choose a few of them. Which activities might be more fun when the kids are a bit older, so they’re worth waiting for? Have an honest conversation with yourself and the family to decide what is most worthy of your time… allowing yourself the opportunity to just BE together and allow for those flexible, off-the-cuff fun moments.

What about presents? Choose ones that are meaningful, stay within your allotted budget, and communicate in advance with family members that tend to go a bit overboard. Ask for experiences and memories like yearlong museum passes or monthly dates with the kids over toys. Remember that the desire to “spoil the grandkids” comes only from a place of love – so reach out with love in return when you discuss ideas for different, non-traditional gifts. Need some good ideas to share with others for meaningful gifts for kids? This Natural Learner Holiday Gift Guide should help.

I’m curious…. What is your biggest struggle when it comes to the Winter season?

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