Parents who have visited this site sent in their favorite cold weather “energy outlets.” Below is a list of the top suggestions.
Top 10 Cold Weather “Energy Outlets”1. Use the Garage
The garage makes a great gym in the cold days of winter. Just back the car out, close the garage door and get ready to play. Great additions to the “garage gym” include hoola hoops, a rubber ball for four square, exercise balls, hopper balls and even some side walk chalk for drawing creative pictures. If you are really feeling industrious, you can do what one family did -- install inexpensive plywood boards on the back wall of your garage to create an indoor backboard for tennis practice.
Of course, make sure any chemicals or hazardous household products are placed out of reach. Also make sure that any tools, large or small, are stowed in a locked cabinet.
2. Get Outside Despite the Cold
Though it may be a little cold at first, don’t be afraid to get outside with your child. Bundle her (and yourself) up in warm layers, winter coats, hats, mittens, warm socks and shoes. Go walking, hiking, bicycle riding, skateboarding. You’ll quickly warm up once your body gets moving and your blood gets pumping.
If snow's on the ground, find some great hills and go sledding or snowboarding, build snow forts, have an elaborate snowball battle, or go hiking through the white landscape. (Be careful to select safe areas that are far from roads, though.) One thing to avoid? Bicycle riding. Ice can make cycling very dangerous.
Kids will sleep better after an afternoon workout in the snow (and you will, too). Plus, what a great feeling to come in out of the cold to a cozy, crackling fire, fuzzy pajamas, a warm blanket on the sofa, a mug of hot cocoa and a family movie on the tube.
3. Play Wii
If you haven’t heard of Wii yet, you soon will. It is the latest interactive gaming craze from Nintendo, and it is quite fun. You don’t just play Wii, you experience it -- and with Wii Exercise or Wii Sports, your child will work up a sweat and get a good workout in the process. “My son loves the Wii Sports Boxing game," says one About.com user. "It’s an appropriate and controlled way for him to release some of his hyperactivity. He punches with both hands and arms and jumps around. After just a few rounds, he is pooped out!”
4. Exercise Videos/DVDs or Dance Music
Moms have been doing exercise videos or DVDs for years to keep in shape. Remember the Jane Fonda workouts or the Buns of Steel videos? Back then, you didn’t hear as much about exercise videos for children as you do now. There are lots of fun picks, including Tae Bo Kicks for Kids (my all time favorite), Kari Anderson's Shake: Workout for Kids, Denise Austin's Fit Kids, 65 Energy Blasts for Kids Fitness, and more. Just be sure to match your child’s age with the recommended age range for the exercises. Don’t have any exercise videos/DVDs? Create your own dance club. Roll back the family room rug, push the furniture against the walls, turn on the music and get grooving.
5. Winter Chores
Create a list of winter jobs to keep your child active. Give him a small shovel and ask him to help clear the sidewalk. Join her in cleaning leaves out of an elderly neighbor's garden. Chores help kids learn responsibility, feel "adult" and burn off energy. A few to-do experiences and he might just take the initiative to help out on his own in the future.
6. The Dog Walker
Depending on his age, your child can be the designated family dog walker. Plan the walking route together. Your child may enjoy creating a map to use to walk the dog around the neighborhood. Go along on the walk together so you get the benefits of exercise, too. Be sure your child grabs a few dog treats to carry in her pocket to reward your dog along the way. Your child may want to contact some of the neighbors to see if she can be responsible for additional dog walks, too. Who knows? She may even end up becoming the neighborhood dog walker and earning a few extra bucks along the way.
7. Pump It Up or Other Special Outings
If your kids feel the itch to jump around like crazy, take them on an extra special outing to a party/play space. Pump It Up, for example holds birthday parties and allows kids to pop in for open play time. Both you and your child will enjoy jumping, bouncing and laughing on its giant inflatable play structures and moon jumps. Other special outings may include a trip to the ice skating or roller skating rink, skateboard park, indoor pool, etc.
8. The Kitchen Chef
Have some fun in the kitchen! One mom wrote in to share the way she encourages her son’s love of cooking. They’ve spent whole days researching a menu, planning items needed, shopping for ingredients, preparing, cooking and then eating the meal so carefully and thoughtfully prepared by her son. “My son’s hyperactivity is more mental than physical, and this sort of activity gives him something to focus on the whole day, with a few breaks in between,” she says. Perfect!
9. Indoor Obstacle Course
Make an obstacle course in your own home using pillows, balls, your child’s toys -- whatever is available for climbing on, over, beside or through. Encourage your child as he negotiates the course. Once to the finish line, have your child set up a different course and start all over. Be sure to supervise this carefully to prevent injury.
10. Parks and Recreation
Check out your local Parks and Recreation Department to see what recreational activities and organized sports are available this winter -- martial arts, dance, indoor swimming, “rock” climbing, basketball, etc. You can also just get directions to the community gym and shoot some hoops or play a little one-on-one with your child. The winner gets to be in charge of the radio station on the drive back home.