Putting the Wonder Back in Winter

Beckon your inner child to relive the joy of brisk days

There are countless songs about the beauty and magic of winter—the fresh powdery snow just waiting to be jumped in, a crackling fire accompanied by warm mugs and blankets—and we are likely reminded of the joy these things brought us as kids. Yet, it seems that all we can do as adults is complain about the onset and duration of the year’s coldest months. Logically, this is understandable: scraping ice off of a car at 6am in the frigid morning air while inside, your child resists the daily task of putting on winter gear is enough to make you want to hole up in the house until spring makes its debut. But this year, challenge yourself to make an effort to put the wonder back in winter. Try to look past the inconveniences and see the destination—be it a snow-filled backyard or a local skating rink—as a place to experience the fun you may remember yourself as a child.


The Snowy Day

This classic children’s book transports readers to the morning after a blizzard, when young Peter is enthralled with the transformation of his community into a magical world blanketed in mounds of snow. His awe and his innocent desire to capture and claim a piece of this world has been warming the hearts of many for decades.

Product: snowman kit

While classic snowmen can be made simply with sticks, stones, and a carrot from the fridge, a simple and affordable snowman kit, many of which are available on Amazon, makes for an easy-to-grab activity that can be reached for year after year. Most come complete with hat, face, scarf, arms and buttons!

Brrrrr-ing On Winter Fun

Embrace the joy of cold outdoor adventures

Ah, January. The month of reset and resolutions, of facing winter head-on without the distraction of Yuletide planning and cheer. Some find peace in this blank, cold space. They may view it as a time to seek out their warmest blankets and unread stacks of books. To reacquaint themselves with…well, themselves. Others see prospect and hope in the new year, the month itself serving as a springboard to begin action and a new set of productive habits.

Whichever side of the fence you may stand (or lay in a comfortable reclined position), most would agree that January, among all twelve months of the year, often feels the longest, coldest and most uneventful. Since outdoor activities tend to be notably limited in a large portion of this country throughout the month, cabin fever is common, and can be particularly difficult for children, who naturally crave movement. Since movement has been shown to boost critical skills in child development—language, attention, memory, emotion and decision-making being among these skills—it is important to find ways for children to get their bodies in gear, even in the dead of winter.

While the idea of venturing outdoors during frigid days may turn you off, it is important to consider the benefits that winter outdoor play can bring. For one, exposure to the sun naturally increases vitamin D levels, which will help with disease prevention and can improve overall mental health for both you and your children. Additionally, while many parents avoid outdoor activities due to outdated concerns that their child may get sick, fresh air is far better than indoor air where germs can circulate. It is, however, imperative that children be dressed appropriately, ideally in layers that can be added and removed as needed.

For ideas and inspiration, consider the following outdoor activities to get your family engaged:

  • Go ice skating – Head to a nearby outdoor rink and have some fun! Many rinks loan skating trainers that is more inclusive for very young and/or inexperienced skaters.
  • Make colored frozen ice globes – Fill balloons with water, add drops of food dye to each balloon, freeze outside and then pop the balloon to reveal a colorful sphere that will delight your kids.
  • Snow paint – fill spray water bottles with water and food dye then head outdoors with your kids to create works of art on a snowy canvas!
  • Make a snowman – Need we say more?
  • Model kindness – Work together to shovel someone’s driveway and sidewalk, particularly for someone in need of the help; this act of kindness may help them see the positive impacts they can make in their community.
  • Go ice fishing – This may not be a realistic opportunity for many, but for those who have the inclination and the access to a safe ice fishing location with an experienced angler, this could be an incredibly fun and memorable activity for families to share.
  • Make a home for the birds – Buy/gather supplies to construct a bird feeder with your kids, then place outside in a location that’s visible from inside via a window. The craft will keep little hands busy with fine motor tasks, and the bird-watching can be a fun, tablet-free pastime.
  • Keep it simple – Getting outside in the winter does not need to be special, elaborate or even time-consuming. Even a simple walk around the block once or twice a day can be enough to lift everyone’s spirits and reduce cabin fever.

Cooped Up? Cook Up!

Ideas for recipes to warm you from the inside out.

Crockpot Soups

Crockpot soups are a perfect winter meal, whether you’re cooped up or have plans outside the home. Once prep is done, a hot meal awaits you at the end of the day!

Hot Chocolate Bar

While this doesn’t necessarily require cooking, whipping up some hot chocolate and assembling it on a table with additions such as marshmellows, chocolate shavings, peppermint sticks, whipped cream and flavored syrups can make any dreary, cold day feel cheery.

Fresh-Baked Bread

Make your home smell like a divine local bakery and try your hand at making homemade bread. There are countless recipes available online, including yeast-free versions that require less wait time, if the task seems too daunting.

Homemade Ravioli

You don’t have to be Italian to make your own pasta! Get your hands full of flour to form and stuff your own ravioli- get the kids involved for extra messy fun!

Mini Pizzas

One of the easiest, quickest and crowd-pleasing cooking activities for your young ones requires nothing more than English muffins, marinara sauce, cheese and whatever pizza toppings your heart desires.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful, the Prep is Not Delightful

Building a realistic timeframe for winter routines

While winter play can be just as fun and spontaneous as warm weather activities, it does come with its own set of preparations that need to be taken into consideration before heading out the door with your little ones. Getting yourself and the kids ready in the winter requires alterations that adds notable time to routines, considering the following tasks that need to take place on particularly cold and snowy and/or icy days:

  • Donning warm socks and boots
  • Putting on coats, hats, scarves and mittens
  • Shoveling the driveway of snow
  • Scraping the car of ice and snow
  • Waiting for the car to warm up

It’s often helpful to work backwards when planning ahead for leaving the house on time. Make a list on paper or in your phone, with each task accompanied by an estimation for how long it generally takes you and your family to complete. Then add the total of that time to

For parents of children with special needs, timeframe predictions may need to be further increased. While some children can be dressed in winter gear without much persuasion or trauma, many children with autism and/or sensory challenges are less tolerant of the steps necessary for winter prep, and it’s important to set realistic expectations in situations like these. The various sensations of coats and cold weather gear can feel itchy and cumbersome, the change in routine can be unsettling and the extended time it takes to wait for the car to be warmed up and cleared up can incite tantrums and distress. It’s no wonder that people often want to stay hibernated indoors!

But getting out that door is nonetheless important, and will be worth it in the long run—so chin up and bundle up, buttercup!

Content of this newsletter was written by:
Megan A. Miller, M.S., CCC-SLP

Please contact Megan with any questions or comments at: megan@ctctherapy.com