The sun will come out tomorrow…or will it? The short, grey days of winter can seriously dampen moods. As you and your family spend more time indoors, it can seem like boredom and irritability are more prevalent than fun and togetherness. Some people are more affected than others by winter weather, but studies show that children are more prone than adults to the sort of tearfulness and despondence that seems to creep up around mid January. All of us could use a little boost to get back on the sunny side, so take some of these tips to ensure your kids (and you) overcome the winter blues.
Exercise and outdoor exposure are essential to maintaining a good mood in winter. True, it’s probably cold outside, but the more time you and your kids spend in direct sunlight, the better you’re likely to feel. Even more important is physical activity. Just a little bit of exercise per day can raise your serotonin level, which helps ward off depression like a big bite of chocolate (in fact, chocolate boosts serotonin too, though you might not want to tell your kids).
If it’s too cold to play outside, devise a plan for physical activities inside. Young kids will love having a dance party every night, and older kids may enjoy trips to a skating rink or indoor swimming pool. If your children are into fall and spring sports, try to get them interested in winter sports, because any scheduled physical activity is a great remedy to winter blues.
If your area happens to be snowbound, there are lots of fun activities for kids to enjoy. Skiing, sledding, and pond hockey are all time-tested standbys. If you have a lot of snow on your hands, the construction of forts, igloos, and snow sculptures can provide an excellent diversion for the whole family (check out these snow sculptures for inspiration). On the other hand, avoid snowball fights – what begins as friendly can turn downright warlike. And whatever your outdoor plans may be, make sure your child is well-equipped for the weather, because a cold kid can turn mighty fussy. Check out our selection of winter gear!
When the blizzard’s roaring outside, it’s helpful to have a list of low-key indoor activities prepared. Board games? Should be a big checkmark next to that one. Calming music and reading are also good ideas. If your reading voice is getting kind of scratchy, try getting a recording of a favorite story, dimming the lights for mood, and inviting your family to relax and imagine.
Most importantly, be aware that people are a little more likely to lose their cool during the winter months. Kids may be more prone to tantrums and mood swings, so do your best to be supportive. If your little one grows abnormally depressed, it could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and you might consult your pediatrician. But for everyday winter blues, a little understanding and a lot of active fun go a long way.