Year by year the complexities of this world grow more bewildering. We need all the more to seek peace and comfort in the joyful simplicities and to teach our children to do the same. For in so doing, we enable them to seek contentment within themselves rather than relying on electronic devices for their entertainment.
Being from Maine, I’ve always liked it when winter really acts like winter, with lots of snow and subfreezing temperatures. If you are like me (and most kids!) and there is a rumor of a big snowstorm, you wake up every half hour all night long to see if it is still snowing and whoop with glee when school is canceled. Perhaps you are able to stay home as well. Make it your priority to create some wonderful memories with your children!
Remember the joy of winter as a child, and reacquaint yourself with the luxury of that pleasure. Shovel snow together, but don’t be surprised if your kids want to shovel the yard and not the driveway. Create snow angels.; build a snowman; make a snow fort. Go sledding at Babcock Park Hill, or Stonybrook, or some other great place near your home. Chances are quite good you won’t have to go far.
Take a walk in the woods on snowshoes or cross country skis. Look for winter birds, and squirrels’ nests. Notice animal tracks and try to identify them. If you find any animals hibernating (bats, insects) do not disturb them, as they may die if they are awakened. Notice how tightly leaf buds are wrapped so they won’t freeze; observe what happens if we get a stretch of warm weather. Go to a frozen stream. Notice ice formations and water running underneath. (Stay onshore lest one goes through the ice!)
Make bird feeders using popcorn and cranberries; pine cones with peanut butter rolled in birdseed; seed cups using the peels of half oranges and lemons with string hangers. Decorate the trees with treats for the birds and animals.
Have a Neighborhood Winter Carnival. Snow sculpt a glorified snowman, dragon, Big Bird… Set up target games for hurling snowballs. Have a tug of war in the snow. Afterward, share in the warmth of a pot of cocoa made with real milk, or hot spiced cider and popcorn.
Even if housebound, having an expectation of time together as a family for a couple of hours without electronic devices affords the quiet companionship snow days and Sunday afternoons are perfect for. Playing cards or board games; sprawling around the living room, each with his or her own book, or reading a book aloud together as a family; making valentines for school and each other; writing letters to grandparents or journaling; working a jigsaw puzzle together; making tacos, or shaking it up with a dance party, lay a foundation for close ties between siblings
This time of year, as the pace seems to slow somewhat, it is easier to find moments for quality time with the children. Sometimes when we are immersed in the trials of parenting and day to day living, it is hard to realize how truly fleeting this precious time with little ones is. Children have so much to teach us. Please take the opportunity to really enjoy this priceless gift of childhood. And take lots of pictures! You won’t regret it. (RDW 1-19-11)