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Women sitting on bench with children. Winter landscape. Family sitting on bench.

Finding the joy in winter parenting

Celia Dean, Clinical Psychologist at Kids Matter, shares her favourite winter-time activities, all of which are simple, free and fun…

As the end of October approached this year and the clocks went back, even with the knowledge of an extra hour in bed, my heart sank a little.  I have to confess I’ve never looked forward to the winter months.  The days of cold, wet, windy weather when everything seems so grey feels hard to greet with enthusiasm.  I think some of this dates back to the challenges of ‘winter parenting’ when my two boys were younger.  (They are now in their mid teens and I’m lucky if I can snatch more than a quick conversation with them!) Many a day was spent trying to find things to do with them as the rain lashed the windows.  I always envied my friend’s little girls who used to spend hours drawing and colouring. This was not my world, my boys needed full on action and stimulation in order to keep them sweet, and even that didn’t always work! I was always on the search for things to do that were fun, creative, energetic and entertaining for us all, that didn’t cost the earth. I say all of us, because I too wanted to enjoy my time with my kids!

I think the winter months present a couple of particular challenges.  Cabin fever being the most obvious.  Even the most hardy of families who love winter will admit they spend more time indoors than in the summer months, which means we are all in closer proximity to each other for longer each day.  We get bored and our children get restless.  Going out takes more planning and chances are, screen time is up and physical activity is down!  For me this was often not a great combination resulting in two energetic boys fizzing around like a sugar lump in a glass of lemonade!  Coupled with this is, of course, is the loneliness I’d feel parenting inside on my own, feeling trapped by the weather with no other adult to talk to. I never expected to feel this isolation; it was so at odds with my dream of how family life should be.

So my survival tips for preventing those winter blues:

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