The days are short, the darkness long, and the cold unforgiving. Winter months in Canada can feel isolating and, well, a bit sad to be honest. But, since life is adventure (and short), we really ought to make the most of the winter months. Whether it’s the reduced daylight hours, or the added effort it takes to bundle kids up for anything and everything, or the low cloud cover and lack of sunshine, or the fact that we spent six winters in a tropical country, I struggle with winter. But I have found ways to make the most of the winter months with children in tow. Here is how I manage the winter blues with kids.

7 Ways to Manage the Winter Blues with Kids

1. Plan a play date

It is totally tempting to hibernate indoors during the winter months, but cabin fever is very real. Social isolation only intensifies any feelings of angst that come from the cold, grey skies above. When we are sociable, we build connection. Even if you don’t feel like leaving the house, make a plan with friends and organize a kid-friendly play date. Your mind and body will thank you.

2. Pump up the jam

Blare your favourite tunes and get your heart pumping. Kids love to wiggle their energy out with kicks and jumps and wild dance moves. Our children love to pull out their costume box and let their imaginations go wild as they dance and prance around. By the end of dance parties in our house, everyone feels better. Exercise, after all, is a well-known mood-booster.

Hygge dance parties
Dance parties in our house turn into full costumed affairs with lots of gymnastics.

3. Skip the dishes

Forget cooking and hit up a local coffee shop or eatery for a quick meal. Loads of restaurants and coffee shops are set up for kids. Treat yourself to a lunch or snack where you don’t have to worry (as much!) about cleaning up.

4. Head outdoors

In Scandinavian countries you’ll hear this in the thick of winter: “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” Take those words to heart and bundle up. A walk around the block or a run down a hill on a toboggan gives our bodies a much-needed boost of Vitamin D.

5. Schedule self-care

Caring for ourselves in the midst of parenting can feel selfish and impossible. But the truth? We cannot pour from empty cups. In the winter months especially parents need to prioritize physical, emotional and mental well-being.

You know best what inspires and rejuvenates you. Perhaps it’s changing out of pyjamas into a normal human outfit. Maybe it’s preparing a nutritious meal. It could be shutting off Netflix and instead, picking up an inspiring book. Or, perhaps it’s hiring a sitter and heading to the gym or doing a workout video at home. Find what makes you tick and make space for it.

6. Practice thankfulness

Did you know that practising gratitude is connected with greater general happiness? It is.

“Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.” (Harvard Health)

Take time to regroup each day and reflect on what you are grateful for. Don’t be afraid to include your kids too. Here’s one idea — make a gratitude wall! — that includes kids in the practice of gratitude that I wrote for Learning Resources.

7. Dream big dreams

Striking the right balance between living fully in the moment and planning for the future can be tricky. Don’t be afraid to flesh out your bucket list during the dark months of winter. Brainstorming adventures, activities, and future plans can help beat the blues. Ask your kids what things they dream of doing and then make a plan together. Set your list in motion, but don’t forget to be present today.

What are your tips and tricks to make the most of the winter months and beat the blues?

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