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3 different outdoor activities to consider in the winter

Forest Bathing, Teepees, and Snow Painting

Winter can be so long, so dark, so blah. It’s easy to be complacent and not want to get yourself and your little ones bundled up to go out into the chilly cold. There are a lot of places now where you can bring your children to play indoors – play centres, the Science Centre, museums, the pool, etc. – but nothing beats time spent outside. Fresh air is good to breathe, and letting little ones run free is a great way for them to burn off energy. For myself, I find that spending time in nature reduces stress, and makes me feel lighter. If you have the budget, you can do anything from skating to skiing, and everyone can go tobogganing. Below are 3 cheap or free ideas of fun stuff you might want to try, forest bathing, teepees, and snow painting.

Have you ever heard of “forest bathing”? I’ve only recently come across this term, but the idea is to spend time in nature, the forest, without an agenda or sport. Just observing the beauty of what is around you – the wind rustling through the trees, the moss growing on the trunks of trees, the snow on top of the berries, animal prints – and taking your time meandering through it. I like hiking, but forest bathing in my opinion is less intense, more leisurely, no rules. This has been a really fun and sometimes interesting activity with my little ones. I have had to abandon my goals orientated mind, ei; we are going to walk around this loop trail. Often my boys will want to walk in areas that I would have never walked and sometimes don’t want to go, but as long as it’s safe and we have the time, we do it. I am never disappointed we have, and it makes me feel childlike again. From time to time I will point their attention to a birds nest, or moss, and have found as they get older they now like to point things out to me, usually animals. I like to bring a well-stocked backpack of snacks and drinks, and sometimes we will put “souvenirs” in the bag, like a cool rock or leaf, or bunch of berries.

This year, we made a backyard teepee. Teepees or lean tos don’t just have to be for your backyard, if there is a trail in the forest where you like to walk, if you can scramble together a handful of large branches that have fallen, then you can make a secret hiding spot to visit or sit in when you are out “forest bathing”. If you want to make that teepee more exciting, stop by the dollar store for a bag of birdseed and they can feed  watch the birds eating the seeds. We have had visits from sparrows, magpies, crows, quails and even bunnies around our seed area. It’s fun for playing hide and seek, as a playhouse, or just a place to sit.

Snow painting is simple but fun. You just mix a bit of food colouring with some water, and then you can put it in an old sippy cup, or a spray bottle, or in little containers that can be squeezed. Sometimes we bring out sprinkles too. You have to teach them not to get their mittens or gloves wet, but overall, mess free and colourful fun.

If you don’t have the money to move to a tropical paradise, it’s best to make lemonade snow cones out of lemons. And one of the best parts about playing in the chilly weather is coming in for yummy hot chocolate, and seeing those sweet rosy cheeks.  

Anna Marie Chemi is a stay at home mom who never wants to grow up, with 2 sweet boys.