Johnston: Spend quality time with family during winter

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Organized outdoor sports games and practices have slowed down and the holiday breaks mean more time at home for everyone.

It is often too cold to go outside and play, so kids are trying to figure out how to expend their energy indoors and parents have probably heard “I’m bored” more times than you can count.

Winter is actually a great time to take advantage of those slower schedules by spending some family time together.

Look around your home and you will find there are plenty of indoor activities to do with your children that can create a meaningful family experience and lots of wonderful memories.

Time with parents is extremely important to the well-being of children. Studies have shown families who spend time together have happier, healthier children who do better in school.

Family time promotes emotional health in kids, which is linked to a greater likelihood they will avoid risky behaviors, such as drug use, and have lower risks for depression.

The possibilities for meaningful indoor family time are as limitless as your imagination. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about activities to do with your kids.

— Story time: Reading together is valuable for early literacy skills and bonding.

In addition to reading books, let your imaginations run wild as you make up stories together. Make up a silly story to tell your children or involve them in the creation of a silly story. You can also take turns sharing your favorite family stories or memories.

— Dance party: Dancing a great way to improve everyone’s mood and get your hearts pumping when outside physical activities are limited. Let everyone have a turn selecting a song. Remember to keep the music age appropriate, especially with younger children.

You can even dance while doing chores together, making the dance time fun and helpful.

— Kitchen time: Especially around the holidays, you can spend family time cooking in the kitchen.

Whip up something sweet to share for an after-dinner treat. Have your children help you prepare food items that will be gifts for friends and family members.

Not only will you be spending time together but you will be teaching them valuable math and life skills that are central to food preparation.

— Scavenger hunts: The premise of this game is to send a child or children with a list of objects to go find and retrieve.

It is simple to create and can be as long or short as you wish. Start by making a list of items commonly found in or around your home. Continue to add items to the list that require creativity and/or adventure, such as “buried treasure” which you can define however you chose.

— Fort making: Did you ever make a blanket fort as a child? Share those memories with your children and gather blankets and pillows to relive your childhood.

Plan and build the structure together, figuring out how to support the “roof” and make doors. You are promoting decision-making and problem solving skills as well as teamwork by creating the fort together.

Grab some flashlights and read books inside or create an imaginary island scenario. The ideas are endless and forts often offer hours of varied entertainment.

More information on parenting and families is available at the Clark County Extension office. 

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at shonda.johnston@uky.edu.