How To Help Your Family Fight Those Winter Blues

The first few months of the year can be a difficult time. With the excitement of Christmas out of the way the cold, dark days can make us want to hibernate. I’m all for embracing a slower pace during these winter days, but as a mum of young children I can’t hangout in my bed and pyjamas every day. My children still need activities and exercise or they get really frustrated, bored and end up fighting with each other (and me).  So what can you do to keep everyone happy on these darker days when you just want to cuddle up in bed with a good book or Netflix?

A child throwing snow in the air and having fun
Ways to feel happy and energised this winter

How To Banish The January Blues And February Frowns

Look Forwards

The shortest day in the UK (with the most hours of darkness) was shortly before Christmas so the good news is that even though January and February might feel hard, every day we are getting a few more minutes of day light. Mid-January in London sunrise is at 8am and sunset at 4.20pm giving less that 8 1/2 hours of sunlight. This means that some days it feels like you hardly see the sun and it’s so dark you need house lights on all day. By the end of February (which by the way is a leap year in 2024) the sunrise is before 7am and sunset at 5.40pm which is nearly 11 hours of sunlight. Brighter days are on the way. 

Need more help looking forward and feeling positive? It’s no surprise that January is the most popular month for booking holidays. Planning a fun trip and thinking of sunny days is a great way to get a boost of positivity. This year I have booked us a Haven holiday (affiliate link) because the caravans are big enough for our family of 5 and I’m also thinking about glamping with Feather Down Farms (affiliate link) or going to Eurocamp in the summer. (If you are thinking about booking a Haven holiday check out this post first).

Lighten Up

The natural inclination to stay inside in the warm and do less is the same animals feel when they hibernate. It’s mostly caused by the drop in temperature and darkness so counteracting that can boost your mood.

On dry days try to make an effort to get outside. A great option for boosting your mood is a walk near nature, maybe a path through parkland or get your wellies on and head to woodland. Alternatively a walk along the coast with a fresh cold breeze will definitely blow those cobwebs away. 

If you are struggling to persuade little ones that a walk is a good idea then wrap them up warm, make yourself a flask of hot coffee and head to the playground. They will get to burn some energy off and you get some fresh air. Alternatively a character trail like the Gruffalo Trail or Stickman Trail (both in Brentwood) will benefit all the family. 

If it’s too cold to be outside for long or wet then consider going to a soft play. Ok I know that a busy soft play isn’t a lot of fun for adults, but hear me out. Children get to run around and have fun, and they can actually boost your mood too. It might be artificial, but they are normally warm, bright and colourful which can trick your brain into feeling more awake. Maybe bring some ear plugs though. 

Have A Laugh

Laughing can reduce tension, reduce stress, improve your mood and even boost your immune system so it’s a great thing to prioritise in these darker months. Children laugh all the time, but as adults we tend to laugh far less so it’s time to lighten up. Get your children to tell you jokes, relax into a tickle or find a family film and actually watch it so you get the jokes rather than doom scrolling on social media while it’s on. 

Playing games with your family is also scientifically proven to boost your mood. Unless it ends in a fight or tears. Ok I made up the science bit, but playing a game is a great way to bond with your family, spend time together and have fun.  We like games that are easy to get started (without lots of rules) and that are good for all ages. You can check out my various games reviews here, but two of the games we have been playing a lot over the last month are Quirk and Honeycombs from Gibsons Games (gifted for review). 

Quirk is a really funny game where you have to ask other players for cards, but you can’t actually say what card you want, instead you have to do an impression of the animal or character. Similar to the Go Fish card game, but more fun. It can be adapted for younger players or made more complex for the more experienced. 

Honeycombs is a game with a few different ways to play. You can adapt the version depending on how competitive the players are. The aim of all versions is to form a hive with the hexagon tiles, but you have to make sure the pictures on touching sides of the tiles match. 

Think Inside Out

Exercise is well known for boosting serotonin, but it’s hard to get your body moving enough to raise your heart rate when accompanied by children. Walking speeds tend to be slow and when we go swimming I spend more time standing than swimming. Better options are cycling, maybe with a child seat or a computer game like Just Dance or the brilliant Twister Air (affiliate links). Want a less tech way to move your body at home?  Have a dance party. Young children will love to move to nursery rhymes like Ring a Ring of Roses or just ask your smart speaker to play "party music".

It’s not just moving your body that makes a difference to how it feels, but what you put inside it. Nutritious and wholesome food can help fight the seasonal germs, give you more energy and make you feel more alert. Most of us indulge in yummy foods over Christmas and spend January eating the remains of the chocolate selection boxes and mince pies. The high amounts of sugar and fats make us feel sluggish and whether you realise or not your body starts to crave fresh fruit and vegetables. Plan some vegetable and bean packed homemade soups, leafy stir fries and salads and seeds and nuts to help replace some of those essentials vitamins and minerals that may have been missing from your diet.

Warmer, brighter days will be here soon and these tips will help boost your mood, but don't feel guilty for lazy days either. Life is about balance and rest is important too. 

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