Winter Break Activities for Mental Health
As if this time of year isn’t hard enough already!
To help you prepare for a winter break that supports your family’s mental wellness, Children’s Mental Health Ontario is sharing five tips for your family, children, and youth.
During our recent Twitter Chat, we asked the #kidscantwait community what advice/ tips they had for other families struggling with mental wellness over the holidays. We incorporated many of their responses into this post.
- Get outdoors
Staying active will help your child’s mental health this winter. Don’t let the snow keep you indoors all the time. Many winter traditions are still feasible while adhering to social distancing guidelines from going on walks to skiing and skating. To date, it looks like skating rinks will remain open.
Playing in the snow, building a snowman, and tobogganing are great ways to enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the limited sunlight hours over the winter season. Planning outdoor scavenger hunts for children is also a good way to get their minds and bodies active after a long day of being indoors.
Some great outdoor activities me and my family members do to support our mental well-being is going ice skating and playing street hockey is a popular game in my household. Indoor activities include building a gingerbread house. – @Mandeep_17
Looking a local hiking and exploring new tobogganing hills! Going to local public pools when possible. Making a commitment to limit electronics, which is hard to be honest – @momconfessions75
While being outdoors is important, we need to make sure we keep safe indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating. Some fun indoor activities can include decorating your home with winter crafts. Here are some crafts that you can do at home: bit.ly/2KCrAEC – @snap_CDI
- Maintain connections
Families and friends will be looking to new methods to connect over the holiday season. Make use of technology and schedule group calls, virtual play dates, and one-on-one phone calls to remain in contact with people who do not live in your household. Scheduling drive-by visits is another way to see your loved ones safely and feel connected with your support system.
Have fun with lots of laughter. Make every day funny and exciting by introducing creative things to do as a family. – @PaigeMcgann
- Start new traditions
Use this time as an opportunity to start new winter traditions. For example, it could be something simple like sharing a new snack with your children or getting out your art-and-craft supplies (even simple things like paint and toilet paper roles sure go along way with little ones!) This is an opportunity to create drawings and artwork that can be given as holiday gifts or put together and stored in a scrapbook to create lifelong memories of a really extraordinary time in our lives.
Look for positive family activities in the communities such as going to the park, making a snow man, baking, family movie or board game night – @HandsFamilyHelp
I always try to make things fun for the kids, a simple movie can light up their eyes if we make popcorn and add smarties – @JAVAGIRL317
We talk about EVERYONE unplugging to create sacred family time either enjoying the snow, playing a board game, doing STEM activities, creating a themed dinner or taking on an epic LEGO build – @NYCyouthcentre
The best activities over the holidays will be the simplest. Build a Fort in the living room, snow angels in the yard, outdoor ice skating – all will be cherished by children. This holiday season we can give the gift of time – @shereewells77
- Check in
Make sure to take time to check in on children and acknowledge their feelings during this time. If they are feeling isolated, what activities can you recommend? Creating a consistent schedule over the winter break may also create comfort. Involve your family in the planning and display the schedule in visible area like the kitchen fridge. This creates an opportunity for children and youth to help plan and acknowledge any worries they have. Planning ahead can also mean that families can set time aside and enjoy fun activities together including movie night, board games, and reading books.
I think this winter may be very hard for so many parents and kids for so many different reasons and I want people to understand they are not alone. Navigating a pandemic is hard. Adding mental health challenges is harder-Let’s lean on each other for support – @SP_Pind
- Take time to recharge
The colder temperatures mean that more families will be staying indoors. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself – unplug and be in the moment, journal, read a book under a cozy blanket. You can include your children in these activities and write weekly stories together that you can look back on together one day.
Give yourself permission to look after yourselves – if that is day under the blanket that is OK. Make sure you stay active – enjoy the sunshine when you can. Show compassion. Validate when a loved one is struggling. Have a goal/thing that you want to achieve – @HRisInnovative
Staying mentally healthy requires being kind to oneself above all else. These are not normal times and it is not a normal winter. We have to remind ourselves and validate ourselves regularly as a reminder – @javeedsukhera
Check IN with each other, y’all! Don’t underestimate how much a simple phone call can help. We’re tired. So many of us are isolated. If there were ever a time for random hellos, THIS IS IT. Let’s make it through together! – @CaseP
With all of the extra pressures of the holiday, please remember that Children’s Mental Health Ontario is here to help. Children’s Mental Health Ontario has a network of more than 4,000 child and youth mental health professionals across the province, ready to support you and your children. We are here to support your entire family’s mental health and help you through these difficult times. Find help in your area.