With the kids back in school and those evenings drawing in, it’s pretty tempting to slide right back into the cozy TV-watching groove, isn’t it? As nice as that sounds, the key to staying healthy and boosting your mood during Seattle’s ‘Big Dark’ is to stay active.
Motivating yourself (and getting the kids on board) might feel like a big challenge, but don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas for you. By making a few small tweaks to your daily routine, you can easily sprinkle some activity into your schedule. Start incorporating these changes right away and you’ll soon find yourself taking a few more extra steps, and hopefully staying a little healthier and happier during those darker months.
Stay active outside when you want to brave the elements
1. Walk and talk
Wherever you can, try to incorporate walking into your daily routine. I am lucky to live close to our school, so we walk there and back every day. On rainy mornings it’s tempting to just hop in the car, but we try to walk in the rain as much as possible. Invest in some good wet weather gear, grab some fun umbrellas and enjoy a rainy walk together.
If a school walk is not possible, you can still fit a walk in after dinner or on the weekends. In the darker months, we take the kids around the neighborhood for an evening walk. They love getting dressed up in their headlamps and reflective jackets and even the dog gets to wear his flashing collar (try some light-up arm bands for extra fun). The very act of getting out of the house seems to cheer everyone up. As we come close to Halloween and Christmas, these walks are a fun way to take in the neighborhood lights and decorations.
2. Mini cycling adventures
We are surrounded by amazing bike trails, pump parks, and mountain bike parks. We might not always be lucky with the weather, but you’ll find that most of the time, it’s just fine for a short ride on our scenic trails.
Make a local coffee shop or bakery part of your itinerary and the kids are more likely to get on board. There is nothing better than a steamy cup of hot chocolate after a bike ride on a bitterly cold day.
3. Enticing hikes
Hiking in the winter months can be a hard sell for kids. That’s why you need some creative ideas to entice kids out on the trails. If you haven’t tried it, geocaching is an excellent way to motivate the kids and get everyone out. Story walks are good for little ones and combine reading and walking on easier trails. Even if you only go out for a short hike, it’s amazing how energized you will all feel after a little activity surrounded by nature.
Stay active inside when the elements are too much
4. Just keep swimming
Many people associate swimming with the summer, but there are plenty of wonderful indoor pools that are open during the winter. Many YMCA and community pools offer recreational swim sessions on the weekend. Grab your swimsuit and the kids and spend an hour splashing about and getting some exercise in too. If your kids take swimming lessons during the week, the extra practice at the pool on the weekend can help boost their confidence at lesson time. Don’t forget to pack lots of cozy clothes to change into after your swim as that cold air outside can be a real shock to the system.
5. Join a new class or try an app at home
In the Puget Sound region, we’re fortunate to have a wealth of fantastic gyms and fitness centers that offer child care services. So why not seize the opportunity to discover a new class and enroll the kids in child care? Everyone gets to enjoy an activity and meet some new people. If you prefer working out with the kids, you can also do it at home. Set up some yoga mats, and some light weights, and check out some workouts online, such as:
- PE with Joe provides fun and relatively easy 30-minute workouts for the whole family.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga offers tons of kid-friendly yoga routines that will get the whole family stretching.
- Popsugar Fitness will help you and your kids break a sweat with their fun dace workouts, including a 10-minute video that teaches you all the TikTok moves you need to know.
- BodyFit by Amy offers online workouts designed for you to hold your baby while you exercise, brilliant!
6. Dance party
I always find a dance party is a great thing to lift the kids’ mood on dark and rainy evenings. Make a playlist of your kid’s favorite songs, invest in a disco light or some glow sticks, turn off the lights, and turn up the music. For toddlers, anything by “The Kiboomers” will get them dancing. For elementary school kids try teaching them “The Macarena Dance” or “Gangnam Style” and have a family dance-off. Or you could try playing any of these dance hits recommended by teachers. Just try and turn on any of these songs and sit still, we dare you!
7. Ice skating
Whether you’re a newcomer taking those tentative first steps on the ice or a seasoned pro, one thing is certain -- ice skating is a real workout. No matter your skill level, the winter season presents the perfect opportunity to hone your ice-skating prowess and stay active.
Sno-King Ice Arena (Renton, Snoqualmie and Kirkland), Kraken Community Iceplex and Lynwood Ice Center are just a few of the excellent ice-skating arenas in the Seattle Area. They are all open for public skating and many of them offer classes for those who are new to skating. The beginner classes cater to tots, kids and adults. Who knows, maybe the kids will love it so much they’ll take up ice hockey and join the Seattle Kraken!
No matter how you choose to keep moving this fall and winter, just remember to have fun and don’t be afraid to try something new.