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A Teachable Moment - Post Holiday Blues

For a great many people, post holiday-season winter can be an emotional let-down, and the beginning of three long, cold months that seem to go on forever. In fact, cold, snowy weather and short, dark days can bring out the worst in parents who feel cooped up with bored, whining children...sound familiar? Being stuck indoors makes everyone cranky! Winter can make parents less patient, less understanding and more frustrated with kids who are bickering with siblings, making endless messes and watching hours of mindless TV.

As bleak as this picture may seem, creative planning can help you and your kids dig out of the winter doldrums. In order to do this, you first need to change your mindset-instead of seeing the next few months as long, cold and depressing, view them as an exciting challenge. Your goal with this challenge is that when spring arrives you will be able to look back at this winter with a great big smile. Here is a simple 4-point plan to Take Back Winter!

#1 Be sure you have a complete and easily accessible supply of outerwear for yourself and your child. Always keep coats, gloves, hats and boots in a central location so that they are easily found whenever you need them. A plastic bucket near the door works well for hats and gloves. The easier it is to get dressed for the cold weather, the more likely you will be to go outside. Also, when everything is always in the same place it won't feel like a stressful task to get everyone ready.

#2 Spend some time each weekend at an indoor or outdoor play area. Free play is critical for all children and winter should not be an excuse to forgo play. If you don't mind spending some money at an indoor play area, this can be a great way to encourage running, jumping and bouncing. If not, then, except on bitterly cold days, bundle up and go to the playground or simply out to the play set in your backyard-even if it is only for a short time.

#3 Embrace winter activities. When the weather is cold, kids and adults alike resist going outside and instead, have the urge to stay bundled up on the couch, watching TV. I encourage you to fight this urge. Give ice-skating a try or take a nature-walk in the winter world. When it snows, go sledding, build a snowman or drop into the white stuff to make snow-angels. Hang a bird feeder and watch for birds and other small animals that struggle to find food in the winter months. Be creative and embrace the winter. As you make wonderful outdoor memories with your child, winter won't seem as dreadful.

#4 Plan and execute a few indoor winter-themed activities. When it is too cold to go outside, turn off the TV and be creative with your child--creativity pulls us right out of our lethargy. The key is to plan in advance so that you have supplies available for some fun, child-friendly activities. For example to decorate 'snowman' cookies you should keep a roll of ready-made dough in the fridge along with cookie cutters and all you need to decorate. To create paper 'snowflakes' you need paper, child-friendly scissors, crayons or markers to brighten up your snowflakes and tape to stick them up all over the house. Hit the internet and search-there are hundreds of awesome, creative ideas for indoor, winter fun. Pick the ones that you like best and stock up on supplies now so that you can whip them out whenever you want to play.  

Dr. Susan Bartell is a nationally recognized child and parenting psychologist and author. You can learn more about her at


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