The doldrums can soon set in when the weather is persistently grey, cold and rainy. With just a little extra effort you can send the blues packing.
With winter rain and gloom on the horizon it's too easy to sit around inside doing nothing. As a result the children get bored and restless with all that pent-up energy. The answer is a mid-afternoon dance-a-thon. Roll back the rugs and line up a soundtrack of high-energy, poppy tunes and set aside half an hour to bop and hop with the young ones. For variety, practise some well-known dance moves such as the Moonwalk, break-dancing and Ring-a, Ring-a Rosy. You could even dust or pick up toys as you dance.
If you don't want to trek to the local swimming pool host a no-holds-barred daytime water party in the bath. Cover the floor with towels so the kids can splash to their hearts' content then look for some extra special bath toys. The kitchen cupboard - with its funnels, colanders and lemon squeezers - is a good place to start. You could plan in advance and get some bath crayons to daub the walls of the tub.
For less messy fun get everyone sitting at the table and use plastic straws to blow a feather across it. Have a goalpost at one end of the table and the first one to get the feather to touch the goal post wins. You can also play this game with a small plastic ball.
Another game is to get everyone butting a balloon with their heads (no arms, hands or feet allowed) to try to keep the balloon in the air for as long as possible. Get all the furniture out of the way first to avoid injury.
Say no to winter
Don't let winter get you down - pretend it's the height of summer and have a winter barbecue. Wrap the kids up warmly in hats, scarves and mittens and get the sausages on. Decorate the outside table with tea lights or garden lights and serve mulled wine for the grown-ups and lemon and honey drinks for the littlies.
Word games can be done any time of the day or year and should at least get everyone laughing and those feelgood hormones rushing in. You could insist that "no means yes" for an hour a day to keep your pre-schoolers confused and intrigued. If they're too young for board games make up other games such as, "Don't walk, hop" - that should take up another hour and use up some energy too.
Pick a clear day and get the blood moving with a walk in the bush. Plan ahead and take a picnic and changes of clothes. Exercise and getting back to nature are well-known mood boosters and you won't have any trouble getting the littlies off to sleep later.
Some plants thrive on the windowsill even in winter if they're in a sunny spot. Parsley, basil and rocket in little pots might be a good start and get the kids to paint the pots first. You could do the same with flowers - just ask for recommendations from your local garden shop.
Decorate the family room with winter-style flourishes. Think pine cones, white paper snowflakes or cut-outs of snowmen for the windows, sprigs of green with red papier-maché berries - these are all things the children can help make and the transformation will thrill them.
Paint a wall
Choose a wall - it can be in the kitchen, living room or bathroom, and paint it a really bright colour. Everyone knows bright colours are cheering so choose a red, lime green, orange or vibrant blue. Again, the kids can help, if you use plenty of masking tape around the edges.