Bucket lists sound fun, don’t they? As soon as someone says “this is on my bucket list”, I’m all ears and eyes and say what now because bucket lists aren’t only “things to do” but “things you gotta do”. And, last child syndrome; if there are things you gotta do, I’m doing them. Not me missing out. No, siree. (I have a thing about missing out. It’s just this minor thing.)
There are things you gotta do in winter with your children, especially if you’re a season fanatic like me. Things that amplify the Winter Feels. Things that make ordinary days special. Pull some of these activities out of a hat one day and take a spontaneous adventure, or plan for them to incorporate them into your family’s winter traditions. They are fun, can be a great source of learning, and they encourage quality time with your children.
1. Fruit Picking
I love strawberry picking in the winter. It’s not so hot that you’re sweating upon arrival, the sky is this magic blue going on and on for days, and the kids? They love it. We’ve been to a few but our favourite is Rolin Strawberry Farm on Rutters road in Elimbah. Ella’s perfected the twist and pull perfectly: not one little bruise on any strawberry she picks, thank you very much. Billy? Billy, not so much. But he does love carrying the basket. It’s his thing. If anyone takes it from him, he yells in protest all the way to Africa.
2. Christmas in July
Although I’ve wanted to, I’ve never thrown a Christmas in July party, mostly because Joel would have a severe heart attack and we need him to stay with us. He can only just tolerate the ridiculous Christmas affair I go to in December. The man needs 11 months to recover. But lucky for me, we have friends who throw one each year, and it’s just impolite not to go, right? I will be there with bells on. No seriously, I will have bells on.
3. Snow Day
Snow day at our house is like this. Joel: What snow day? Where are we going? Me: The thing in the city! With the fake snow! It’s an annual tradition of ours, remember? Joel: That time we built that really bad snowman out of melting ice? Rachel, we’ve been there once. Okay THANK YOU snow police but the Winter Wonderland they put on at Brisbane’s Riverstage in July is really cool. There’s heaps of ‘snow’ and you can build snowmen and have snow fights and even go sledding. There’s food and entertainment and it’s a great family day out. Put it on your bucket list.
4. Mini Restaurant
Winter is the perfect time to stay in, invite loved ones over and cook rich, delicious food. Have your kids set up a mini restaurant in your dining room next time you have people for dinner, or simply do it for yourselves one night of the week to turn ordinary dinner into a special affair. Set the table with the good plates, have your child help you make place setting cards and a menu, light heaps of candles, put some music on. Staying in can be just as memorable.
5. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
Sometimes in winter it’s just too cold out. Staying under blankets and watching movies sounds much more appealing that bundling up and going anywhere. Obviously though, too much screen time is not great for kids, which is why a road trip scavenger hunt is a great way to get them out without ACTUALLY going out. Have, say, a 20 minute drive in mind (or a much longer one if you’re feeling adventurous) with some key kid-friendly sights to tick off the list. It can be a fun little afternoon activity to do together.
6. Make Paper Snowflakes
Nothing says winter like paper snowflakes littered about your home. Once you’ve cut them, get your children to cover them in glitter so they can feel involved. I did a quick and easy paper snowflake tutorial last Christmas – you can watch it here.
7. Nature Journal
Brisbane winter days are delightful. Not too cold that it’s unpleasant, a gorgeous dreamy light around, and crisp blue skies for days. Even still, you might need to find incentive to head outside, and nature journals are great for kids of all ages (except babies of course). This week, we headed down to the water to journal the shells we found. Ella found shells she liked the most, drew pictures of them in her journal and then (while I wrote) invented a name for each shell. As kids grow, you can take actual field guides with you and journal anything – shells, leaves, plants – have the kids draw what they find, learn what it’s called and practice their writing skills as they journal which species or type it is. Billy sat there dumping sand on himself while we journalled, so everyone was happy.
8. Movies by Candlelight
Make the most of earlier sunsets — have an early dinner and then set your lounge room up all indoor movie-theatre like. Lots of quilts, pillows, popcorn and candles. Lots and lots of candles.
9. Baking Day
Winter’s the best for comforting foods and warm ovens. Plan a baking day with your kiddos – plan the things you’d like to cook together (homemade pizza dough, easy pies or muffins, etc), clear out a big space and cook together. Let them make a mess. Let them crack the eggs. This is about doing it together, not doing it ‘right’. They will love the involvement.
10. Sparklers and Toasted Marshmallow Night
Sparklers make any night fun, but throw in some toasted marshmallows and you’ll be the coolest mum for the rest of the week. If you’ve got a fireplace, great, but if not, you can pick up some inexpensive fire pits from hardware stores to make a little fire in your backyard. Plus, you’ll get to tuck your kids into bed that night with the smell of fire and smoke in their hair which is pretty much the best smell ever.