Just admit it. Having kids sometimes makes you feel like pulling your hair out. This nasty feeling creeps up on you especially during the rainy autumn days, takes cover during the winter holidays and then attacks fiercely in the dreadful months while waiting for the sunny days to come.
No matter how much fun and entertainment you treat your kids with during cold autumn and early spring days, nothing can replace quality outdoor action when playing with your kids outside.
Yet, just standing out with your kids outside won’t do the trick. You want them moving, running and being physically active. For that to happen, more often than not, you need to give them ideas what to play. Inspire them. Motivate them. And play with them.
Don’t worry, we got your back.
Here are the 10 top ideas for playing with your kids outside when cold– and having a blast at it.
Beanbag (or a ball) ladder toss
– A ladder
– Paper, a pair of scissors and a felt-tip pen.
– Beanbags and/or balls.
This one is easy peasy to set up. Just grab a ladder, cut out and draw a target for each rung, allocate scores and tape them onto the ladder. You can organise a real competition with school-age kids.
Glow in the dark bowling
This game will blow your kids’ minds. And it’s perfect because it’s best to play when it gets dark. Which is often way too early in the winter time.
– 10 plastic see-through bottles (0.5l)
– 10 glowing sticks
– a tennis ball or another heavy ball
Fill the bottles with water, but not all the way. You want your kids to knock them out. Add in glowing sticks and seal them well. Distribute them evenly to form a triangle. Set the rules and that’s it. You’re ready to go. Playing with your kids outside just became super fun for you too.
Hula hoop games
It’s an old-school approach but hula hoops are cheap, simple and they’re hard to get tired of. The more you have, the better.
Here are a couple of ideas how to use them:
1. Hang them from the trees at a different height and ask your children to aim the ball through. If the kids are old enough, you can swing the hula hoops, to make it more challenging.
2. Distribute the hula hoops close on the ground and make the kids jump around hopscotching.
3. Make a human hula hoop toss competition. Children can take turns in being targets. Have the target wear a bike or roller blade helmet. Others, of course, should try to toss a hula hoop over the target kid, from the same place. Make playing with your kids outside even more challenging by asking the target to occasionally take a step to the side.
If you have a courtyard, you should know jumping on a trampoline never gets old. It’s all the same to kids, but this fun is much better when it’s not hot because they sweat less while exercising and let off steam.
Plan a treasure hunt
This one is a candidate to stick in your child’s memory for as long as they live. They will come to cherish the unforgettable adventure they had with their parent (s) on a cold windy day. And it’s up to you to make it as simple or elaborate as you want.
– A trinket or a toy for the treasure
– A plastic bag, a box or a small chest to put the treasure in
– Sheet of paper and a marker pen for the map
– Optional accessories: eye patches and swords if you want to make your kids into pirates.
Find a good hiding place for the treasure. You want somewhere out of plain sight, yet not too tricky to find either, or your kids might lose motivation.
Draw the map. Try to put as many pictures and little cues as possible. If you are into it yourself, create riddles and verbal cues to spice the hunt up a bit. Think counting steps, describing odd looking trees and/or buildings, climbing the hills, crossing little bridges etc. Whatever’s convenient for your courtyard or the neighbourhood. There’s no reason why playing with your kids outside can’t be entertaining for you too.
Make a tree hut
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Not even in a tree. In fact, you can just pile up fallen tree branches and make a teepee in your courtyard. The kids will love the project and you can tell them stories about the Indians, Robinson Crusoe or your own camping adventures. Then just wait for their imagination to kick in and soon they’ll be the main characters of the stories you told them about.
Or, you can just buy a courtyard playhouse and tell them stories while you set it up together.
Good old puddle jumping
We, the adults sometimes simply overdo it. We think planning all the games and entertaining the kids is essential and our kids aren’t capable of playing for themselves. (Which, for the record, sometimes is true.)
Have them put the waterproof hooded jackets and gumboots on and then just let them outside on a rainy day. Just watch. They will prove you wrong in seconds. And their happy, excited little screams will fill your parent soul with joy.
The game of tag is best to play when there are more than 2 kids. The more the merrier. One of them gets to be “it” player and his goal is to tag another child. Next, it’s that child’s turn to play “it.” Before they begin, the children (or you) should determine the playing area, the limit space they can run from “it” player and the safe zone – the area where the child is safe from being tagged. For the best game, you should limit the time kids are allowed to stick around the safe zone.
See, playing with your kids outside can be simple, energising and fun.
Monkey in the middle
Another simple game is perfect to keep your little ones warm when playing out in a cold weather. The same as in Tag, there should be at least 3 kids. One of them is to be the “monkey.” The monkey stands in the middle. Other players toss and catch the ball, trying to keep it out of the monkey’s reach.
When he seizes it, the player who “let it” happen gets to be the monkey.
Take’em to the playground
If you could use a walk yourself, take them to the first next playground in the neighborhood or, if you’re feeling adventurous, to the one you’ve never visited before.
This is a great opportunity for you too to relax and unwind while the kids are busy playing with other kids or with the playground equipment and leave you be.
Organise a field trip
Playing with your kids outside doesn’t always have to be about playing. People usually avoid going on field trips when it’s not bright and sunny. But autumn colours can be so fulfilling and beautiful and there’s no reason why the whole family couldn’t enjoy a nice field trip even in not so great weather. All you have to do is to plan the right outfits for everyone, make sure to take all the necessary accessories like hats and umbrellas and hit the road.
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin
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