For those of you who are experiencing winter weather, it can be easy to toss aside family fitness when the temperatures drop. My children are now grown, but I feel one of the best gifts they left the proverbial nest with is a love for staying active, whatever the season.
Sometimes it just takes a bit of planning to come up with activities that everyone will find fun. One of the most challenging tasks as a parent is to find activities that are convenient, simple, don’t break the bank, and that appeal to children across age ranges, from toddlers to teens.
Besides the common outdoor winter sports like ice skating, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, there are so many other things that you can do as a family in the wintertime. Indoor swimming, tennis, bowling, pickleball and basketball are just a few of the many ways your family can stay active indoors at community and fitness centers in your neighborhoods.
Check out local organizations to see if they offer parent-child classes or have indoor pools or open gym facilities for playing basketball, volleyball, soccer, and other games. Call local ice- and roller-skating rinks to get hours for open skates.
Think about the fun of building a snowman or sledding! Put your older children in charge. Parents and younger children can be the worker bees as you create a snowman or something else that excites your family. We used to build snow cats and snow dragons and before we knew it everyone in the neighborhood was having fun helping. And flying down the sledding hill makes up for the walk back up – what great fun and exercise!
Snowshoeing is a relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance way to get some exercise. Once you purchase (or rent) snowshoes, there really are no rules. Just strap them on and head outside to a local forest preserve. In addition to being good exercise, snowshoeing is a great way to see some of winter’s beauty up close together.
For something a bit different, have an outdoor ice cube hunt. Make different colored ice cubes and hide them in your yard or in the park. Then bundle up and begin the hunt. Give a prize to the person who finds the most cubes. Or set up a winter tug of war – pile snow in the middle and see who comes out looking like the abominable snowman.
If it’s too cold, come up with a play zone in the house and make an obstacle course. No room in the house? Move the cars out of the garage and set up a fun course there for an afternoon. We always loved family dance parties! Throw in a little karaoke and you can spend hours working up a sweat while laughing and making memories together.
Whether you choose to enjoy your winter days outdoors or indoors, the key is to stay active together. Doing things as a family means you are part of something wonderful, and you’ll be making memories forever.