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I believe, as the parent of two particularly bouncy children, that it’s a good idea to get fresh air for the entire family wherever possible. It’s needed for them to burn off steam and it’s always a good thing for me: I find that if I’ve enjoyed a bit of outside time I sleep better, am in a good mood and enjoy my inside time more.
But it’s tricky in the winter. When you’re huddling inside under blankets, next to open fires, radiators and Netflix accounts, venturing out in to the great outdoors can be something you’re just not up for. That’s me, I’ve been there!
It really is worth it, though. And to celebrate this week’s DVD release of Swallows and Amazons, the movie with arguably the most outdoor adventures of all, I’ve been asked to share our family’s favourite fun winter activities… Here they are!
Design a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts were the highlight of my childhood. We’d head to a local wood that had a a kid’s activity centre and would be sent off into the mud with photocopied sheets of things to find, with the winner receiving the most exciting treasure of all: sweets!
This is a really easy one to do on your own. How about finding: a twig shaped like an X a four leaved clover, a nut, a red leaf, a green leaf, a brown leaf…? Set your own scavenger hunt and see who wins!
Make nature paintings
There are SO many things you can find outside that can later become precious works of art. Leaves, twigs, special pebbles… pick up as many as you can find and bring them home to get crafty. You can even theme your new creations with nature – we love creating pictures of hedgehogs with our finds.
Discover new parks
Recently a mum friend and I got chatting about a mother’s apparent expectation to constantly take their kids to parks. I was delighted when she said, “god, I can’t stand the park”: YES!! Thank you, anonymous friend for vocalising what I’ve always been thinking. I find our local park tediously boring; there’s nothing worse than returning to the same tired strip of grass over and over to play on the same tired swings or the same tired slide.
I have a solution to this. Visit new parks! I make an effort to seek out a new park if we’re meeting friends in London, for example (we discovered the brilliant Clissold Park this weekend – even though the sun was rapidly retreating!), and here in Milton Keynes there’s a brilliant Facebook group that gives pointers on the best parks to visit in the city and the activities to expect there.
Join a Park Run
Every week, rain or shine, we head out to our local Junior Park Run. At only 2k (compared with the adult’s 5k) it’s easy enough for both Elfie and Hux (they’re meant for children from ages 4 to 14) to run the whole thing and is a great way for a) you to get a sneaky fitness session in and b) introduce your kids to regular exercise. Plus we always treat ourselves to a family brunch afterwards – it’s a win/win thing.
Make mud potions
This is one my two often take themselves off to do alone… mud potions! All they need is a hardy mixing bowl (plastic, not glass, for obvious reasons) along with a few spoons or stirring implements. Sorted!
Pick up your copy of Swallows and Amazons here to inspire you for outside adventures – what’ll you get up to this winter?
Thank you to Swallows and Amazons for supporting MTT