As most parents have discovered by now, keeping your family happy and healthy in quarantine is quite a tall order. Most days, just coexisting under the same roof can be a challenge in itself. Children of all ages are still coping with disruptions to their normal routines and isolation from their friends. With limited space and devices for remote learning or entertainment and the addition of winter conditions, many families are reaching a breaking point. The first and most important thing to remember is that this is hard. There’s no good reason to feel guilty about that. You can struggle and still be a great parent. Taking some self-care time to work through your negative feelings will benefit everyone. Doing your best is enough!
Trying to check off all the boxes of physical, social and emotional wellbeing during this time at home is overwhelming, especially if you’re a single parent or one or both of you have demanding jobs. The CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but for many, that’s just not possible right now. The good news is that kids are resilient, and one winter with a little less exercise likely won’t affect their overall health in the future.
Make A Winter Wellbeing Activity List
To cultivate a balance of structured routine and spontaneity, think of activities your kids already enjoy in terms of the types of wellness they support. Physical, social, emotional and family connection are great categories to start with; make an actual list and set a rough goal for the amount of time spent on each category every week. No matter how chaotic your household gets, shooting for a balance of these different areas will give you some direction.
What’s really important is that your kids engage with these activities in a meaningful way, and the more you can use your family dynamic to support each other, the better. If you have older children, it is a good idea to get them engaged with their own wellness by creating a list of activities together. If you have multiple children, add some activities they can do together to strengthen their sibling relationships. And be sure to include some whole-family activities so you can show them you are invested too!
Here’s an example of what your winter wellness activity list might look like for 6-12 year old kids:
- Build an obstacle course in the living room
- Follow along with an age-appropriate workout video on YouTube—or make one for your friends!
- Take some breaks to do jumping jacks or crunches between homework assignments
- Get a couple of friends on Zoom for a virtual dance party
- Play charades
- Write a letter to a friend or family member and send it in the mail
- Interview your grandparents
- Make crafts you can use to de-stress: sensory bottles, silly putty, DIY face masks
- Create your own storybook
- Listen to music and identify the emotions
- Minute to Win It challenges
- Board game night
- Take turns doing scavenger hunts around the house—and put everything back when you’re done!
- Bake something together
You’ll notice that many of these activities could go in more than one category. Some can be done independently, some are better in pairs, and some require a little supervision. Combining physical activity with some imagination and cooperation is a great recipe for hours of good-for-you entertainment! And with a little creativity, most household activities can be turned into fun and games.