Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
Winter weekends and evening can be long, dark and boring for children and parents alike. We become stagnant in mind and body, choosing television and video games over conversation and activity. So what can we do during these cold, dark winter months to keep body and mind active?
Let go of those adult notions that say you can’t act like a child and have a little fun! Pull out those old vinyl records and the phonograph that is in the attic (okay, a lot of those tunes are on CD now, so perhaps you won’t have to go that far) and share your music with your kids. Of course, turn about is fair play, so you must allow them to share theirs with you, too. Take it a step further and show them a few dance steps from before they were born. Then let them show you their moves. You might be surprised how much is still the same and they might be surprised at how “kool” you really are. Remember The Bump? They still do it, only it has a different name now.
If the sun is shining, even though it may be chilly, organize a game of family flag football. Families are smaller than they used to be, so you might want to throw in a neighboring family, or a few of your children’s friends. Even if you get out and play a game with as few as three people, you can have fun. After all, it is the running around and laughing that counts, not the final score.
Rake the yard and then jump in the piles of leaves. Come on! Yes, you will have to rake them again. So what? Let go and live a little. Don’t you remember how much fun it was as a child to mess up the pile your parents had just raked? Let your “inner child” rule again.
Take the family to the local high school and walk the track together. If it is too cold for outdoor activities, many schools and some churches now have indoor tracks that are open to the public. See who can complete the most laps. Keep a record of your family’s performance.
In a more cerebral vein, there are many activities with which you can challenge your children. Give them a budget and a cookbook and have them plan a meal. Then allow them to do the grocery shopping for the meal and prepare it, with adult supervision depending upon age. You are combining life skills, math and science in the process.
Challenge your children to write a poem about their favorite summer activity. You must put your best literary effort, too. At dinner, allow everyone to dress in their favorite summer outfit and read their poem.
Develop a family fable. Start a story that you believe is an important part of your family heritage. Then pass it on to the next family member, allowing them to add to the story with their own ideas. They will pass it on to the next family member until all have had a turn. The final family member will write the conclusion. The finished product can be read at your next family meeting.
Challenge your children to find pen pals. Not the email type; bring back the art of old-fashioned letter writing – complete sentences, correct spelling and accurate punctuation. If pen pals aren’t of interest, then encourage them to write letters to our active duty service men and women. Not only will they be getting the experience of letter writing and sharing their lives, but they will also learn about how others live in comparison.
Develop a tradition of family community service. Pick up trash on the roadways of your neighborhood; work together at a soup kitchen; organize a food drive at your church; help you school raise funds for a particular project. The important object is that you work together as a family for a common goal.
Revive board games. Computer games are fun, but too limiting when it comes to participation. There are lots of board games that still enjoy certain popularity and a few new ones that are load of fun, too. Try Sequence from Jax Ltd. Trivial Pursuit frequently puts out a new edition, with specialty editions that cater to almost every interest. Monopoly, Life and Clue are old-time favorites with new versions, as well.
The object is to spend quality family time in activities that promote interaction between family members. So use your imagination and cater to the whims of your own family. Just don’t let the winter blues keep you from family fun.