With shorter days, longer nights, and more time spent at home, winter is the perfect time of year to fit in some extra bonding with your nearest and dearest. In this article, we’ll explore five cozy winter pastimes that you can enjoy with your family.
Taking time out of your busy schedule to bond with your family this season is not only the right thing to do, it can also help your child develop essential life and social skills. Additionally, your child’s emotional health benefits from spending time with his or her parents. You can help your child develop important social skills like friendliness and how to act appropriately in group settings by positively engaging with them at home.
An added bonus of spending quality time with your family? Well, by doing nice things for your spouse and children, they are more likely to spread kindness to others (including you). Now, what could be better than that? Read on to learn about five pastimes that you can use to promote wellness in your household this winter.
Plan a Family Vacation
When the weather is colder and the days are darker, it’s easy to get down in the dumps. In fact, for some people, it gets so bad that they suffer from a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is caused by a lack of sunlight and is most common during the winter months.
To brighten up your winter season, try planning a family vacation with your family. This can be a great pastime for a cold, blustery winter day. From choosing the destination to discussing food cuisines and the local culture, vacation planning is sure to add light and love to your household.
Vacation planning is a great way to get your kids involved in the conversation, too. Let them pick out a few activities—whether it be water sports, hiking, snow cone slurping, or downtime at the pool—and add their ideas to the itinerary. By listening to your children’s ideas and validating that they are good (and fun) choices, you empower them to make other decisions in their life.
After the planning is done, you and your family will be able to look forward to the trip for months or even years to come, leading to plenty of anticipatory and exciting conversations in which you can bond with your family even more.
If your family can’t afford a vacation right now, don’t fret—make it a staycation instead. During a staycation, you stay at home but do things you normally wouldn’t do. Staycations allow you to be a tourist in your own backyard. For instance, if you live near the beach but never walk along the strand, you could make that one of your staycation activities this spring/summer.
Make It a Movie Night
On a cold winter’s night, there’s nothing better than huddling on the couch with your loved ones, throwing a few heavy blankets over yourselves, and turning on a favorite family movie. Whether it’s an animated film or the latest thriller, your spouse and kids are sure to enjoy being close to you for a few hours. And snuggling up together is a great way to stay warm this winter and keep the gas bill in check.
Another option for movie night is busting out some old home videos. This can be a nostalgic pastime for the entire family and is sure to prompt plenty of belly laughs (and perhaps a few happy tears, too).
Cook a Comforting Wintertime Meal Together
Does chicken noodle soup sound like it would hit the spot right about now? What about some hearty homemade chili? Winter is the perfect time to cook up a piping hot batch of soup, stew, or chili. And the great thing is that many of these recipes call for a boatload of fresh vegetables. So get your family around the counter and ask for their help with cutting up the veggies, gathering seasonings, and putting dishes away. After simmering on the stovetop, your wintertime meal will be ready to enjoy with your loved ones.
According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, sitting down for dinners with your family on a frequent basis contributes to improved emotional well-being and life satisfaction. What’s more, when teenagers feel connected to their parents, they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as skipping school or smoking cigarettes. Family meals are the perfect time and place to work on your connections with your kids, especially if you have teens at home.
Gear Up for Game Night
Game night is a perfect opportunity to bond with your family indoors this season. Kids love hide-and-seek; it can be fun to team up into pairs and look for the other players together. And since your house is so familiar to you and your family, someone is sure to find an innovative hiding spot that will give you all a good chuckle. You may also want to try your hand at charades, cards, chess, or a favorite board game.
Playing games with your family, especially board games, teaches your child the value of following the rules and waiting for his or her turn. By interacting with your child through engaging activities, you also prepare him or her to play independently. And every parent knows just how important independent play can be when you’re in a crunch to finish dinner, start the laundry, or fit in a quick shower.
Drink Hot Cocoa by the Fire
The classic winter pastime of drinking hot cocoa by the fire is not to be underrated. You can amp up the fun by making or purchasing different flavors of hot cocoa, stocking up on marshmallows, and topping off cocoas with a generous douse of whip cream and cocoa powder. Your kids will love the idea of having a hot cocoa bar in their own home sweet home. And nothing compares to snuggling up close to your spouse and kids by a flickering, brilliant fire on a long winter’s night.
Why Cozy Winter Pastimes Count
More often than not, smartphones and other types of technology distract us from spending quality time with the people we care about the most. When everyone is looking at their phone while they’re in the same room, family connectedness goes out the window. Make it an effort to positively engage with your family without using screentime. Learning to relish the present moment is an important life skill that you can pass on to your kids.
Keep in mind that less connection with your family—in the form of conversations, holiday gatherings, and fun activities—can have a negative impact on the quality of your relationships. This season, make it a point to show your sweetheart how much you love him or her and be sure to pick up a winter pastime or two that the whole family can enjoy together. Remember, your favorite people on earth are here to keep your heart and soul warm this winter, so invest your time in them (not your phone).
Colorado Christian University. 5 fun family bonding activities for busy families. http://www.ccu.edu/blogs/cags/2014/02/5-fun-family-bonding-activities-for-busy-families/. Updated February 2014. Accessed February 23, 2018.
The Nemours Foundation. Emotional wellness: Families. https://www.nemours.org/service/health/growuphealthy/emotion/families.html. Accessed February 23, 2018.
The Huffington Post. Why family bonding during the holidays actually matters, according to science. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/26/holiday-bonding_n_6174870.html. Updated November 2014. Accessed February 23, 2018.