For many of us, the plummeting winter temperatures chase us inside. Kids, on the other hand, would stay outside playing in the snow until they got frostbite if we let them.
It’s tempting to send them out to play while you wait inside with a cup of hot coffee to warm you, but you should get out and play with your kids this winter.
Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t hide in the house while your kids are enjoying a winter wonderland.
1. Vitamin D Staves off SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that frequently occurs during the winter months. While they haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of SAD yet, researchers have found vitamin D supplements, and light therapy can successfully treat the symptoms of this type of depression.
Instead of relying on supplements and artificial lights, why not get outside and soak up some sun? Sure, you’re going to be bundled up to the ears to keep you warm, but you can still benefit from getting a few minutes of sunlight on your exposed skin. If the day is snowy, or the sun is hiding behind the clouds, light therapy can be a good alternative, but it’s no replacement for the real thing.
If you get out and start playing with your kids, you won’t even realize you’re collecting vitamin D and improving your mental health. You’ll be having too much fun to give it a passing thought.
2. Fresh Air = Immune System Booster
No matter what your mom or grandma told you, playing out in the cold will not make you sick. You need bacteria or viruses for that. These little bugs thrive in the warm environment inside your home, especially if you run a humidifier to counter the dry winter air. The air in your home might not be dangerous, but being outside in the fresh air is better for your little ones.
That isn’t just important for your kids. You’re just as susceptible to picking up a cold or flu bug as your little ones are, so get out there and start playing!
3. Playing in a Winter Wonderland
When winter arrives, it changes the entire landscape — especially if you’re lucky enough to get some snow. It turns your neighborhood playground into an ice palace, which can be just the thing you need to spark your kids’ imaginations.
Make sure you double-check the playground equipment before you set your kids loose, though. Snow and ice might look exciting, but there could be sharp icicles or broken equipment hiding underneath a layer of snow.
Ensure the park you choose has age-appropriate equipment for your children. Your littlest ones might think they can keep up with their older siblings, but they might end up getting hurt if they try to tackle larger playground equipment than they can handle. Upwards of 75 percent of playground injuries result from a fall, but you can prevent these by checking the equipment and keeping a closer eye on your kids as they play. It’s so much easier to do this if you’re in the trenches — so to speak — playing alongside them.
4. Connecting to Nature
This tip might seem slightly counterintuitive, since most of nature is dormant during the winter months, but if you go out and play after a fresh snowfall, you can see some fantastic sights you wouldn’t otherwise notice.
Hang up a bird feeder and watch all the different species of birds that come to eat — you might not get to see these birds at any other time of the year. Keep an eye on the newly fallen snow for animal tracks. The possibilities are endless.
What you might see will vary depending on where you live, but you’re almost guaranteed to find something unusual that will help your little ones connect with nature in a way they could never do during the other seasons. You can benefit from this, too. Studies have shown walking in nature can help reduce depression and improve mental health.
If you’re feeling a bit stir-crazy from being cooped up in the house, or the stresses of the holidays are starting to get to you, head outside and let the cold air and the beauty of nature in winter help clear your head.
5. Extra Exercise Is Always Beneficial
Getting your kids to exercise isn’t always easy when it’s cold outside. No one wants to put on layers of clothes to leave the house, but playing in the snow can help keep them active during the colder months. As a bonus, playing in the snow helps everyone — you and your children alike — use different muscles than other activities require. You might be sore when you come in for the day, but you can enjoy it, knowing you helped your kids get their recommended 60 minutes of activity for the day.
Getting out to play also helps keep you healthier. Adults might not need as much activity as children, but the guidelines suggest you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to stay healthy. That’s a lot easier to do when you’re chasing a pack of little ones through the snow.
Don’t spend your winter months inside this year. Instead, get out and play with your kids. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel when you finally come back inside for the day.