As the days grow ever colder and shorter, it gets harder and harder to persuade everyone to go outside. By the time we get back from school it’s nearly dark and we all just want to keep cosy and warm. Keeping indoors is all part of the fun of winter, but here are some tips for tempting little ones (and not so little ones) to go outside…
Feeding the birds
Such a simple, rewarding activity. Ever since they were really little, my boys have enjoyed putting things out for the birds. We buy bags of mixed seed and fat balls. It’s amazing how quickly the birds empty our bird feeders and it’s so satisfying to watch them through our kitchen window. Going outside and topping up the bird feeders is a great thing to do after school. It only takes a few minutes and really re-connects us to our garden, and what’s happening in it. We have lots of sparrows, blackbirds, doves and the occasional robin in our town garden.
Go on a scavenger hunt
This is a really fun way to get everyone outside – you can make it as long, or as complicated as you like. Simply ask your children to look for (and possibly collect) things outside: feathers, a twig, something round, a seed pod… the list is endless. You can do this in your own back garden, on the way to school or somewhere more exciting like a forest. I find a little bit of gentle competitiveness always helps to keep children warm! I think a grown-up version would be pretty fun too.
Going out to do a small, but specific, task
Turn ‘urgh I don’t want to go for a walk’ into something more enthusiastic by giving your outing a small, but important, purpose. Posting a letter, delivering Christmas cards by hand, going to the sweet shop, meeting friends in the park, buying a new battery for a toy… This usually works and gives us an excuse to get out and blow the cobwebs away.
Make the most of the weather
Make the weather, good or bad, into a reason for venturing outside. If it’s raining, make the most of those puddles. Get your wellies on and go splashing. If the puddles are frozen, then go and jump on them and watch the ice break. And keep your fingers crossed for some snow – no one ever needs persuading to go out in snow!
Take some warming rewards
Once you’ve tempted everyone outside for a bit, reward them with something warm and comforting. Hot chocolate and a biscuit go a long way. Buy a flask, you’ll never regret it and you’ll feel terribly smug every time you use it.
What are your top tips for persuading children (and adults!) to go outside as the weather gets colder?