Every day with your kids matters
Anya and Spencer enjoy playing on the playground year round.
By Guest Blogger Carey Carpenter
It’s taken us 25 minutes to put on all of the snow clothes, but we are finally ready, I think. The kids start to whine that they are getting really hot so I rush everyone outside. I take a deep breath and the cold crisp air fills my lungs. I stare off into the majestic mountains that surround us in every direction in Anchorage and I realize how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. It makes me want to show my kids all of the magnificence and all of the fun we can have together. I want to build memories of laughing with them while we sled down a snow-covered winter hill.
My two-year old snaps me back into reality by screaming that she can’t get herself into the sled. I calmly walk over, and pick her up, and set her right where she wants to go.
Today I will pull the kids in the sled to the park, where we’ll make snow angels and tracks for each other to follow in the snow. We’ll end the outing at home, as we do every snowy activity, with a warm cup of hot chocolate.
Prioritize and fight cabin fever
Every day with your kids matters and most of the days are filled with so many things on your to do list, how do you get it all in?
It’s about prioritizing. Every morning I stop and think about what I need to do that day and every day I make sure I plan in playtime with my kids. There is not enough time in a week for me to accomplish all of the fun activities I want to do with my family. So we see what the weather is like and we plan our activities accordingly.
Getting outside helps everyone fight off cabin fever and getting just 15 minutes of sunshine while it’s out during the darker winter months can help beat back the winter blues.
Just because it’s not T-shirt weather out there doesn’t mean you should forget about the great outdoors until the ground thaws. There are plenty of things that you can do outside during the winter.
Don’t let the colder temps scare you
There is a fabulous Meetup group on meetup.com called Skeddadle and they have multiple weekly outdoor events all year round. It’s a great way to get outside and meet other parents and kids that want to do the same thing. Or you can throw on your snow clothes and grab a thermos of hot soup and head out to one of the parks for a winter picnic.
Just because it's not T-shirt weather, doesn't mean you should forget about the great outdoors.
Don’t let the colder temperatures scare you away from other outdoor places like the Alaska Zoo. During the winter you can walk or sled along the trails and at night view all of the “Zoo Lights” or during the day the zoo hosts activities in the heated greenhouse like music playtime on Mondays or preschool story time on Wednesdays. The kids are happier, they sleep better, and they eat better when we get outside.
Sometimes it’s just too cold or windy outside, then I’ll pick one of our favorite indoor activities during the day like open field time at the Dome or at Arctic Gymnastics if I want to burn off a lot of energy.
There are also activities for working parents with kids like going to Bouncing Bears playing at the Imaginarium in the museum, swimming at the Alaska Club or H2Oasis or, my 5-year old son’s new favorite, bowling. Then there are the days we want to curl up with books and sing songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” so we head to the library lapsit reading time at the Loussac.
Lifelong gift to my kids
Through exercise, Carey Carpenter
(with survivor sash) has learned how
to push herself beyond limits she thought was possible.
Teaching my kids to play every day is a lifelong gift that I can give to them. Teaching them to enjoy the outdoors year round will create precious memories and the happiness in the moment is priceless. Everyone has only one body that needs to last our whole lives. Exercise is a crucial piece to staying healthy and feeling good.
Through exercise I have learned how to push myself beyond limits that I thought were possible. I want my kids to know that kind of physical and emotional strength because with that, I believe, they can navigate anything that life throws their way.
Ask my kids what they think of all of the activities we do and they’ll tell you emphatically that they love it. If we skip a few play dates then they start asking questions about when we can do so-and-so again. Getting them out of the house is key to keeping everyone sane and happy. And they get exposed to all sorts of different healthy activities. They are better behaved when they get out and play.
In the end, I know that how I spend every day of my life is, of course, how I will have spent my life and I want it to count. Every day I try to get out and play, for me and for my children.
Carey Carpenter is breast-cancer survivor and mother of two living in Anchorage.
Anchorage and Alaska Kid-Friendly Activity Resources: