2020 has certainly limited our entertainment options, but we still have the outdoors through ALL seasons. (Thank goodness!) More and more research is focusing on the benefits of nature. Some of the most intriguing findings are about the impact on general wellbeing. Did you know time outdoors can reduce stress, improve mood, and promote calm? Some studies even suggest just taking a moment to view nature (simply looking out a window), can increase focus and calm an overactive mind.
Often, we worry spending time in the cold may bring on illness, but research has shown this is not the case. As long as children wear appropriate winter clothing, outdoor play can actually offer more benefits than staying inside. Navigating in snow clothes, adjusting to cool temperatures, and accepting a balled up sock inside the boot, all build grit and resilience in children. Such important lessons that outdoor play promotes perfectly.
Sometimes we forget how much children enjoy the snow. They don’t worry about traffic, shoveling, or travel concerns. Children are simply in the moment, so follow their lead! Take time to listen and see the season through their eyes! (Even us adults might be able to find some sparkles on the snow again.) Many parks and trails are open year-round to explore. What better way for your whole family to recharge?
A few ideas to try this winter!
- Think about creating a special nook outdoors to pile down and enjoy a favorite book. This is the perfect place to tell stories, share jokes, or even sing songs. Encourage your child to use their creativity and make it cozy with buckets to sit on, wind chimes to ring, and maybe a few winter-sturdy toys. (Tip: Grab some patio pillows and coffee for yourself!)
- Rediscover your own backyard with flashlights. Feed your child’s sense of adventure by enjoying the early sunsets and exploring the dark of late afternoon. (Tip: Next full moon is December 29.)
- Enjoy a winter picnic. Pack a thermos of warm soup and enjoy it outside. Parks still have picnic tables and shelters available, or better yet, sit under the tree in your backyard. Settle in, out of the wind, and share a warm meal and lively conversation. (Tip: Tomato soup slips right through a straw and is delicious in an insulated water bottle.)
- Explore Photography! While enjoying the outdoors, pack a camera, phone, or tablet and let your child capture their favorite winter scenes. This small addition helps us all look for beauty. What a great skill to build in children! Then, revisit these shots to discuss what they found beautiful in each photo. (Tip: Keep tablets warm by carrying them under your coat. This helps save the battery charge in cold weather.)
Finally, while spending time outside this winter, make sure YOU have the proper clothing too! Many times we bundle up children with boots, snow pants, scarves, mittens, and hats, but then for ourselves, simply throw on a coat and light gloves. To be truly comfortable, we need to go the extra mile and put on our own full winter gear. When we are as comfortable as our children, we can relax, refresh, and enjoy the many benefits of being outside. So be sure to take some time for you and your family to recharge and enjoy this beautiful season!