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Mum's guide to... surviving the winter


Thinking of ideas to entertain your little ones (and keep your sanity!) during the winter months can be a difficult task.  Sub-zero temperatures and tricky driving conditions can mean you’re stuck inside the house for several days at a time, with children running around like mad things trying to burn off some energy!  Here at Mum’s guide to Harpenden we’ve put our heads together and come up with our top ten ideas for bringing some new excitement to your home, and suggestions of places to go locally with your children which are particularly suited to the winter months.  We hope you find them useful!

Do some themed arts and crafts: Get prepared and order some arts and crafts materials and spend time creating things with your children.  With Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Mothering Sunday coming up there are plenty of ideas to keep you going.  Alternatively, go to www.activityvillage.co.uk and print off some free colouring pages, and get ideas for themed arts and crafts to make at home.  If neither of these take your fancy then you could always roll out an old roll of wallpaper, get your child to lie down on it and draw round them, then get them to colour it in or make a life-size collage of themselves!

Have an indoor scavenger hunt: Children love searching and exploring, so a scavenger hunt is a fun idea to keep them amused when you’re stuck in the house.  Write a list of the things your children have to find around the house and set them off.  If you have time you can take pictures of things around the house and print them onto a sheet for the children to find.  With the promise of prizes for completing the scavenger hunt, the children are sure to find this exciting!

Exercise with your children: As we all know, it is important to bring children up to understand the importance of exercise to a healthy lifestyle.  If you can feel your children starting to climb the walls, why not put on an exercise or yoga DVD and do a workout together!  Not only will it burn off some of their pent up energy, you’ll also be burning off some calories at the same time – so you can treat yourself to that bar of chocolate without feeling guilty!

Get cooking: Most children enjoy cooking with their parents but with busy lives and running around here, there and everywhere, there often isn’t time.  When it’s freezing outside and you just feel like staying at home, why not cook some tasty treats with your children.  Get out the cookery books and get your children to choose what they would like to make.  Make sure you’ve got lots of sprinkles, sweets etc if you’re decorating cupcakes or cookies.

Have an indoor picnic:  Who says picnics are just for the summer?  Most children love a picnic so why not put a picnic rug down and have an indoor picnic lunch or tea with your children. 

Cuddle up: It’s a very simple idea but on a really cold winter’s day, snuggling up on the sofa under a blanket with your children, reading their favourite stories, watching their favourite films and drinking hot chocolate is a lovely way to spend some time.  Special moments, cuddles and memories to cherish for the future.

Feel the ‘tropical vibe’ at Westminter Lodge pool: If you haven’t yet visited the leisure centre pool at Westminster Lodge it is definitely worth a trip, and it can certainly brighten up a cold winter's day.  With a fun children’s water play area with sloping incline, slide and water sprays, as well as the beautiful new children’s pool, it is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon.  And after your swim there is a lovely café on site where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and have a bite to eat.  It can get very busy on weekends so we recommend going on a weekday if you can.

Let the children run off some steam at a soft play centreMost children love a good run around a soft play area, and it tends to wear them out too, which means there’s a chance you can enjoy a cup of tea in peace when you get home, whilst they sleep!  Many soft play areas also offering drop-in arts & crafts/music sessions.  Our under 5s drop-in page is really useful for last minute decisions on what to do, as it provides you with a list of drop-in groups and sessions by day and time.

Visit a museum: We are so lucky to have plenty of museums in the local area and the delights of London just a train ride away.  A museum visit can be a real treat, and is often free, which is a bonus!  Many museums offer special activities, themes and events for children of all ages so it’s worth checking out what’s on before you head off.  You can find details of all the local museums on our Things to Do section.

And finally… if we get snow, go out and enjoy it!  Have a snowball fight, build a snowman or an igloo, go sledging, make snow angels or play snow football (I’m not quite sure how this works but my daughter assures me it is fun!).  The one piece of advice from us is simply to be prepared – make sure everyone is kitted out in plenty of warm, waterproof clothing before venturing out, and be realistic about how long you will actually be out for.  When the children start showing signs of getting cold/fed up, take them somewhere for a warming hot chocolate and enjoy that cosy feeling of having rosy cheeks after being out in the cold.  There are plenty of cafes in Harpenden to choose from!

The original version of this article was published in St Albans Twins Magazine in January 2013, and on the MGT website in 2015.

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