5 Ways to Keep your Kids Active This Winter

One of our family’s resolutions this year was to get more physically fit … together. But, now that the cold is finally here we’re stuck indoors a lot of the time. Are you in the same boat? How is your family planning on staying active? With gym class at school practically eliminated and kids spending way too much time in front of computers or TV, it’s definitely hard to make sure my kids get a good 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Put some freezing temperatures on top of that and it becomes even more of a challenge. But we all need physical activity, Mom and Dad included, to stay healthy and it was definitely one of our family’s New Years Resolutions.

According to Michelle Obama and the U.S. Government Sponsored Let’s Move campaign:

Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

Knowing that it’s hard to carve out time in the day to exercise individually, we are going to get more active as a family by having fun doing it together as family time. It’s a great way to spend quality time together, be active, and improve our moods.

If you want your family to be more fit in 2013, here are 5 ideas we came up with that the whole family can do together to stay active and healthy.

1. Get Outside and Play. Even thought it’s cold outside, the fresh air and Vitamin D from sunshine will do you and your kids a whole lot of good. Building a snowman, sledding and walking up the hill afterwards, and snowball fights definitely help burn calories and give you some exercise. Check out these Fun Family Activities to Do in the Snow for some inspiration. Even if you have a new baby or young toddler in the house, you can get outside and have fun. The National Wildlife Federation put together a great Outdoor Winter Discovery Guide that has fun ideas and great tips for getting outside safely with baby.

2. Take up a winter sport together. There are so many winter sports that your family could try together this year. If needed, take some lessons and learn to snowshoe, ski, ice skate, or cross-country ski, as a way to get outside and work up a sweat.

3. Take advantage of the Gym. Are you members of your local YMCA or Park District? Have a family gym membership? Instead of going and working out by yourself, take the whole family and get active together. Grab a basketball and shoot around one afternoon or take advantage of family swim night and have fun in the pool. I know our YMCA has a play area that lets the kids climb walls, play Dance Dance Revolution, play ping pong and run around on the climbers. Adults are welcome to play, too! Our YMCA even has a nursery if you want to drop baby off and go play with your older kids. They also offer a Family Zumba class, if you want something more structured. Ask them what’s available for your whole family. I bet you’ll be surprised at the options.

4. Walk the Dog. To me, the best part of having a dog is that it forces you to get outside and exercise. Even though it may be cold and dark, have the whole family bundle up and walk the dog for 20 – 30 minutes after dinner to walk off those calories. Give the kids flashlights and let them play flashlight tag. Stare at the moon and the stars which look stunning in winter. I know my husband and I relish this time to talk to each other uninterrupted.

5. Use your Garage. Plan some fun active games the whole family can do and use your garage as the “arena”. Grab some brooms and a sponge to play make-shift hockey. Kick the soccer ball around. Throw the football through a hoop for points. Have a jump rope, hopscotch, and hula hoop competition. Set up an obstacle course for your kids to race around in their tricycles. Sure, it might be cold in the garage but it’s dry and not windy. Here’s how to host your own Family Winter Olympics.

How do you keep your family active in the winter?

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Tags: Family Fun Ideas · Winter Boredom Busters

Family Night Ideas for When It’s Cold Outside

Now that the Holiday Season and all of its festivities are over, we’ve got weeks of long, dark winter nights to look forward to. Sometimes I get depressed thinking about the cold weather forcing us to mostly stay indoors, especially on our weekly Family Nights. However, that’s when I’m forced to get creative and come up with some fun ideas to have lots of indoor fun.

Here are 6 of my favorite Winter Family Night Activities that will make you look like the most fun Mom on the block. Click on the links for more tips and advice on how to pull off some major fun at home the next few weekends.

1. Indoor Snowball Fight – Too cold outside for a real snowball fight? Create “snowball” ammunition out of white tissue paper, cotton balls wrapped with saran wrap, or large marshmallows. Give each “team” an equal amount. Then fight it out in the basement or other kid-friendly area of the house. Build some forts out of boxes or blankets while you are at it to protect yourself. Of course, if it’s not too cold out you can do this outside with real snowballs. A reader over at SavvyMom.ca shared her idea to keep the snowball fights safe. They make chalk drawings of each other on their fence and throw the snowballs at the drawings. No one accidentally gets hurt then. Genius!

Spa Night

2. Spa Night – A little pampering makes everyone smile – even Dad! Candles, aromatherapy and soothing music. I can’t think of a better way to relax after a rough week at work (and school).

3. Homemade Pizza Party – Don’t just order pizza in on Family Night, throw a pizza party! Click for our family favorite pizza recipe. It’s not that hard to make and you’ll really enjoy the time talking together in the kitchen.

4. Family Slumber Party – Why do the kids get to have all the fun? Shadow puppets, truth or dare games, toaster oven s’mores and sleeping bags in front of the TV sounds like a fun night to me.

5. Game Night Tournament- Grab those new games you got as Holiday Gifts or raid your closet for forgotten board games and then let the competition begin.

6. Have a Thumb War – A craft and game you can do together that’s super fun for both parents and kids? Making thumb wrestlers and then having a thumb war of parents against kids or girls against boys is sure to have everyone giggling.

Most importantly, these creative ideas are easy, use items you already have around the house, and don’t take a lot of planning for busy parents. So, have fun on Family Night this winter!

What are some easy but fun things you like to do with the kids when you are forced to stay in on Family Night?

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Tags: Family Fun Ideas · Winter Boredom Busters

Fun Activities to do in the Snow

Building a snow fort

Got snow? We finally have snow here in Chicago! The kids (and I) are so excited. Since the kids have a long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I wanted to dig up some fun ideas for getting outside and playing in the snow.

Sledding party

Sledding Party
Round up the kids in the neighborhood, and host a super fun, super casual a sledding party.

Snowball Forts and Snowball Fights
Whether you use your hands, loaf pans, buckets, or cut off platic milk cartons to make the walls of your super impenetrable fort, you’ll have a blast building a snow fort with the kids and letting the snow ball wars begin. Want a safer snow ball fight, a Mom on the SavvyMom.ca site suggested drawing chalk people on your fence or garage door and throwing your snowballs at those targets.

Girls building a snowman

Build a Snowman
There is such simple joy in buiding a snowman with your kids. Here are some ideas for snowman fun.

Outside bird feeder
Feed the Animals

Here’s a fun idea for a snowy bird feeder from Parents Magazine.

Snow Art
Give your kids spray bottles filled with water and colored with food dye and let them spray graffiti, I mean art, on the snow.

Allrecipe.com's Snow Ice Cream

Make Snow Ice Cream
Scoop up the fresh, clean snow and make ice cream.

How do you and your kids like to play in the snow?

You Might Also Like:

10 Ideas to Keep the Kids Amused on When Off of School for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrate Groundhog Day with the Kids

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Tags: Winter Boredom Busters

Ideas to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues

I was on NBC Chicago last weekend sharing ideas to help kids beat the winter blues. You’ll find something to keep the kids smiling and having fun. Here’s the video, if you missed it.

If you liked any of the products you saw on the video clip, head on over to ChocolateCakeClub.com to grab some fun for your kids.

You May Also Like:
Snow Day Fun
No School Today? 10 Ideas to Keep the Kids Amused
5 Ways to Make Family Game Night More Fun

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Tags: Family Fun Ideas · Winter Boredom Busters

Snow Day Fun!

girls in the snow

I am enjoying another Snow Day with my kids today after Sno-Madeggon, the Mother-of-All-Snowstorms, rolled through the Midwest. The wind, the thundersnow, and the amount of flakes was incredible to experience. What’s great though is that once the storm ended yesterday, the sun came out and it was the MOST PERFECT SNOW DAY to head outside and have fun.

Cal in igloo

My kids have been having a blast making snow forts and jumping on the trampoline once we cleared off the snow.

If this is your second Snow Day or you’re worried about what to do with the kids when they are off for President’s Day, I wrote a few posts for other sites on Fun Snow Day Activities with the Kids for PTPA Media and my local Palatine Patch.com that will give you ideas.

Also, my friend Beth Engleman, Mommyonashoestring.com, shared this great video with me on her ideas for Snow Day crafts with the kids.

marshmallow and toothpick sculpture

The Mother Huddle had a great way to keep kids amused for an hour at least with Marshmallows and Toothpicks.

Finally, I’m going to be on NBC 5 Chicago News this Saturday during the 9 a.m. newscast with family fun ideas on how to beat the winter boredom blues. I’ll post a link to the segment as soon as I can.

Have fun in the snow!

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Tags: Parenting Tips · Winter Boredom Busters

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