By Alison Cupp Relyea
With the temperatures dropping rapidly and the holidays approaching, winter is getting underway. While many of us enjoy this time of year because it means seeing family and more time to relax and snuggle up with our little ones, it can also mean that some of the healthy habits we practice in the other seasons slip away. We know it can be harder to motivate in the winter months, but the best way to enjoy the season and avoid colds and the flu is to stay healthy, with plenty of sleep, exercise and good food. We decided to put together some advice for new families, who often find transitioning through those first few winters to be particularly challenging.
The first thing to remember about winter is that when we are dressed appropriately, it can be quite wonderful to be outside. This is true for babies, children and adults. Some new parents hesitate to take their children out in the winter, but with the proper bundling and warm stroller blankets, babies are very happy going for walks and playing outdoors. A brisk walk every day or a trip to the playground is good for everyone in the family, helping you stay active and creating a sense of routine on cold winter days. Make sure you have the right hats, mittens and outerwear for your children and yourselves, and then you can enjoy watching your child experience a world of winter firsts – snow, snowmen and sledding!
Once you are back home from being outside, a great way to stay healthy and take advantage of the slower pace is to cook together. Trying out new recipes and inviting friends over to enjoy them are great ways to focus on healthy eating this winter. Visiting a local greenmarket is a fun outdoor activity, too, and can introduce you and your family to new possibilities! Greenmarkets tend to be less busy in the winter, and they offer new flavors to sample and interesting people to meet as you explore.
While you may have lived in your community for a long time before kids, explore it through a new lens now that you are a parent. Are there other indoor activities that you and your child can enjoy for this winter and many to come? Indoor gyms are a fantastic way for your child to move and grow, and your local YMCA or community center may offer free baby swim and baby movement classes. Museums, with their wide-open spaces, are a great place for early walkers to get the runway they need during winter months. There may be other hidden play spaces, too, like community gardens or atriums of large buildings. While being outside is the ultimate goal for healthy living, finding the indoor alternatives helps everyone get their energy out.
Children and adults all sleep better after an active day, so the best way to get the sleep you need and to enjoy a good cuddle with a sleepy child at bedtime is to get outside during the days. Your whole family will feel better physically and emotionally, and you will all sleep well at night!