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Sunday
Jan152012

10 Ways to Warm Up Your Winter!

by Avital Nathman

photo: robyn s. russell

With winter’s chill come shorter days and darker nights. It can be a struggle to find ways to joyfully pass the time as “cabin fever” sets in. Despite frosty air, snowy sidewalks, and darkening days, we’ve found a few ways to help bring light and warmth into your family’s lives this season:

1. Stay In Your Pajamas.

There are some days in winter that are just too cold to get out of bed - so don’t! Take a day when you have no other obligations and stay in bed, or at least, in your pajamas. Invite the kids into your bed, or create a big family bed out of quilts and blankets on the floor. Eat breakfast in bed - and lunch and dinner! Spend the day reading, playing games, watching movies or snuggling. Give yourself and your kids permission to rest and recharge (especially during a season when we tend to burn out around all the holiday hooplah).

2. Go Camping - Indoors!

Push aside the living room furniture and set up a tent or string up an old bedsheet, and bring the great outdoors inside. Gather ‘round a fireplace (or a safely-placed candle or homemade “firepit” constructed of brown, red, yellow & orange paper) with your flashlights and share stories, s’mores and laughs. You can even make a night of it by actually sleeping in your tent. Doing something unexpected and silly can be a great break from boredom for kids and adults alike!

3. Light Up The Night.

Creating light during those short winter days is always helpful for warding off the winter blues. This easy craft idea makes a beautiful light that can decorate either your outdoor or indoor space.

Gather:

* Empty & cleaned cans - as many as you would like to make. (You can use different size cans as well. Coffee cans, soup cans, bean cans, tomato sauce cans - start saving them now!)

* A Philips head screwdriver

* A hammer

* paint, glue & glitter

* tea lights

Instructions:

Make sure that there are no sharp edges on your cans before you begin.

Fully remove one top from any can of your choice. Using your Philips head screwdriver and hammer, pound some holes all around the can. An adult or older kid should supervise or do this part. The result are little star-shaped holes that will filter the light.

Once the holes are made - decorate! Use paint, some glue & glitter, or whatever else you have on hand to jazz these lanterns up.

Light a tea light candle and place the can over them.

These make lovely centerpieces on your table, or near your entryway by your outside door.

4. Have A Cook-Off.

Nothing warms a house faster then turning on the oven. A lively but friendly food competition is a great way to satisfy your bellies and souls. Decide on a food ahead of time and help children pick recipes that they would be able to make with a little help. Cook-offs can be as elaborate or basic as you’d like. More experienced cooks might want to make pies, chili, or soups. But you can also decorate (pre-made) cookies, prepare salads, or see who makes the best guacamole. Any excuse to gather a bunch of family and friends into your kitchen to help warm it up is always a good one!

5. Head Outdoors.

As much as we want to stay wrapped up and cozy in our homes during the winter months, it’s also incredibly helpful to get outdoors and get some fresh air. In addition to getting Vitamin D from the sun, being active outside in the winter can actually be invigorating! Bundle up and go on a Winter Wonderland Nature Walk. Try and see if you can spot animal footprints in the snow, and check out what plants still continue to grow in the cold. Of course, tried and true favorites like sledding and snow angels are always great ideas. Make sure to pack a thermos full of hot cocoa to warm little (and big!) bodies. 

6. Add A Little Color To Your Lives.

Winter days can sometimes seem dull and dreary, and infusing a bit of color never hurts. These ideas will brighten up both the inside and outside of your home.

While the first snowfall of the season can feel magical, after the fourth or fifth one, it can feel a little overwhelming. To help out, grab a few spray bottles and fill them up with some colorful  “drink powder” (the kind that comes in packets) and a bit of water. Head outside and decorate away!

Inside the house, turn your living room into an art gallery. Spend a day painting, drawing, sculpting, and then showcase the art (instead of filing it away in a box in the basement!) like you’d find in a museum. Invite friends and family over for an “opening” and allow your kids to show off their work.

7. Go Tropical!

Sometimes all you want in the winter is a little bit of an escape. While that’s not always possible, you can bring some warmth into your life with a little imagination. Using some construction paper and string, you can easily create a grass skirt and some leis. Let the kids help you mix up some fruity drinks and top them off with little umbrellas.

You can even bring a bit of the beach indoors by creating a sand table. Spread a tarp or large piece of plastic on the floor and then place a sand-filled plastic tub  down on it. Unearth the sand toys from the summer and let the kids go to town. Having some sand fun in the middle of winter is unexpected, but can provide hours of fun as well.

8. Plant A Garden.

Bring the outdoors in by planting a little herb garden. Just the sight and smell of fresh herbs growing in your kitchen will give you that well-needed boost to make it through a season that doesn’t lend itself to much local produce. When it’s time to cook, instead of having to rely on dried herbs, you can clip a bit of rosemary or thyme from your indoor garden!

Let the kids help get things going by filling containers with dirt and then planting some seeds. Most garden or grocery stores still carry herb seeds throughout the entire year. You can use regular terra cotta planters, or get creative and decorate an old yogurt container.  Make sure to water occasionally and trim when needed. You’ll be able to watch your herbs sprout and grow, and then when spring finally arrives, you can transplant them outdoors to your garden.

9. Bake Bread.

Warm up your home and your belly with some freshly made bread. Bread making is nourishing in a variety of ways, and is also an excellent way to get the kids involved in the kitchen. Not only will kids enjoy having a helping hand in the bread they eat, but bread making provides great opportunities for simple math and fine motor skills like pouring.

There are many easy recipes available that don’t require a bread machine. With gluten free or vegan alternatives, everyone can get involved in the process. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is a great book to get you started. Easy, quick recipes will have you making bread in no time, and you’ll find yourself with fresh bread on hand any day of the week.

10. The Power of Potluck.

Nothing warms up a house faster than filling it with friends. Try and make a potluck part of your winter by having one monthly at least if not more. Potlucks are the perfect way to share the responsibility of preparing the food, and more than likely, everyone will help chip in for clean up as well. While many gatherings that occur during winter tend to focus on holidays, a stress-free potluck might be exactly what you need to help decompress. With little expectations beyond enjoying some food and each others’ company, a potluck meal can be the perfect way to celebrate the season.

A former teacher and lifetime learner, Avital Norman Nathman is a play-at-home mama, freelance writer, wife and feminist (and not necessarily in that order). When not gardening, cooking or dancing around the house, you can catch her musing about motherhood and feminism at www.TheMamafesto.com

Reader Comments (2)

I enjoyed this article very much. Your ideas are great but I think the best way to keep yourself warm is snuggle with your loved ones. Instant bonding time <3
Jan 18, 2012 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJian
In the winter nothing is better then watching the kids play in the snow then sitting around the table drinking hot dark cocoa with them!
Jan 24, 2012 at 6:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlaina Frederick

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