Cold nights mean a few things for parents. Children probably won’t be able to play outside as it’ll be dark and miserable out there. Not being able to go out will mean that they’re likely grouchy and frustrated at being trapped inside the house and long for some fresh air and outdoor fun. They might try and burrow away playing with their favourite kids toys and remain being stuck inside all the time, but sometimes you've got to give them an nudge for some family time.
So, when you’re looking at those cold nights stretching ahead of you, what can you do to make the most of them?
More Family Time
This is an obvious one and it links in to a lot of the other suggestions, but it’s worth remembering that the colder nights offer an opportunity to spend some time together. Winter nights were made for curling up under blankets together and either doing your own thing in the same space or watching a film together. Using the winter to establish some family rules about the amount of time you spend with each other is a positive step that could make an impact all year round. Plus, you’ll probably enjoy it as much as them!
Find Indoor Sports Activities to Try
There are plenty of sports activities that can be tried in the winter, whether it’s badminton, table tennis, swimming or indoor rock climbing. In the summer, you might struggle to persuade the kids that it’s a good idea to stay inside for a couple of hours, but winter evenings are the perfect time to show them that staying inside and challenging yourself can be fun. There are plenty of options for indoor activities to suit any ability. You’ll find many options in the pages of your local newspaper or on internet guides. Think of winter as the ideal opportunity to introduce your kids to something new. And maybe it’ll be new for you too.
Build Indoor Forts
This is one that the kids can do alone or you can help with. Let’s face it – you’ll be itching to crawl inside once they’re finished, so why not just go the whole hog and help them build it? The great thing about building a fort with cushions, pillows, blankets and whatever else you have to hand is that it helps to improve kids’ special awareness and reasoning skills at the same time as letting them have lots of fun! They’ll be brushing up their skills as they build the fort and then they can squirrel themselves away on a cold evening doing what they want in their own personal space.
Break Out the Board Games
This can be a tricky one with some kids who see anything that isn’t on a computer screen as old and boring. However, there are plenty of board games out there that will attract the attention of young minds, even if you have to play hardball to get them involved. Winter evening tantrums are familiar to every parent, but once you’ve persuaded them to join in, they might find themselves enjoying it. Just take our advice and don’t go for anything too intellectual if it’s going to be a struggle to get them playing a board game at all!
Science Toys for Girls and Boy
Thanks to an explosion (not a literal one, luckily) of science kits for kids over the last few years, there are now more mini experiments that kids can undertake from the privacy of their own room. Encouraging them to play with science toys doesn’t only help them learn something and make the evenings go quicker, it may also foster a genuine enthusiasm for science and making things happen. For girls who are still put off by the stereotypes of science being a “boy thing”, the chance to try science toys and activities during the long evenings will improve their confidence and encourage them to experiment more.
Make Cards for Others
If you’re not a craft-loving parent, this one might make you cringe but, really, it’s the thought that counts when it comes to homemade cards. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas thing either – there are plenty of reasons you might give cards to people “out of season”. Maybe they could make them for their friends or extended family members. As well as that, a great idea might be to visit a local residential home and hand in a collection of handmade cards for residents to put in their rooms. The kids are getting enjoyment out of making the cards and they’re doing a good deed at the same time.
Bake Some Cakes
Again, the mere idea of this one is enough to make some parents cringe, but there’s no denying that baking teaches kids a few things and it warms up the house during those long winter nights. If the kids are old enough to take a lead on the baking, ask them what they want to do and supervise as they follow the steps. If they’re too young to do that, you can always give them more of a helping hand. It goes without saying that the kitchen’s a bit of a dangerous place, so keep an eye on them – and take the opportunity to teach a little health and safety class too.
Learn Something Together that They Don’t Learn at School
One annoying thing about the school curriculum is that it’s geared towards what other people think kids should learn. Every parent can probably remember something from their own schooldays that they wanted to know more about but it just wasn’t part of the curriculum. The great thing about the internet is that it can open a portal to so much knowledge that you can easily learn something together at home on evening that the school misses out on. This could be something related to history or wacky things about elements or even starting to learn another language together. The possibilities are only limited by what you think you and your kids can achieve over the winter nights.
What do you do with your children to make the most of the cold winter nights? Let us know your top tips in the comments box below...