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Kids, winter and fun

On an ideal winter’s day, when the skies are blue and the sun is shining, there is nothing better than putting our hats and gloves on and getting outside to enjoy the fresh air. But you may find that a family walk does not always go to plan, as children find walking in wellies both a bit tricky and boring, and it’s not long before you have the back-breaking chore of carrying them home or back to the car.

It is amazing how much further they move when we make it fun. Just adding kicking through piles of leaves, jumping in puddles, squelching in mud or simply racing you to the next big tree can make them move much further and faster. Climbing on the rocks or playing hide and seek at the top of Beacon Hill is so much more fun than plodding up or down. The Outwoods is perfect for hide and seek and gives shelter on a cold windy day and many an hour can be spent hunting the Gruffalo, fairies or other magical creatures in Swithland Wood. Deer spotting and pooh sticks in Bradgate allows you to have hours of fresh air and fun and you will be amazed how quickly you warm up playing tig or chasing each other’s shadows out in the park or on the way back to the house, before heading inside for a hot drink and snack.

But what about dark, cold miserable days and evenings, especially when you get them home after a day of wet playtimes when they just have not burnt off enough energy? When the wind is whipping, the rain is falling, it is dark outside and you cannot face fighting with them to get into all their winter clothes to last all of five minutes outside? It can feel a real challenge to get them active and keep them entertained to stop cabin fever and wear them out enough for bedtime. This is when imagination is needed to turn the house into a den of fun and activity to stop them getting bored and tire them out.

Children of all ages love music and dance and with the TV and remote control, a smartphone or CD player we can have dance competitions; musical cushions or chairs; musical statues and musical bumps. Any Strictly lovers can learn routines together and score each other. You will be amazed how much fun you will have too.

Building dens together; playing hide and seek around the house; setting up assault courses using old boxes and blankets to crawl under and through along with boxes or buckets to throw toys into or placing them at either end of a room or hallway and getting them to run, crawl or hop between them all add up to the step count for the day.

Using colours or toys or naming each corner of the room after favourite characters or places can be used as a memory and movement game where you shout out each one and get them moving between them.

Younger children love being animals: standing on one leg like a flamingo, reaching tall like a giraffe, crouching small like a mouse, roaring like a lion, stretching like a cat or crawling around like a dog. Older children may prefer to do Simon Says or yoga poses which can be easily found online. Playing like animals with hands on the floor and doing yoga poses for children can help calm children down if they are feeling over-excited or restless when stuck indoors.

There are also easy workouts available online of around 7 to 10 minutes and you can make charts and have competitions to see who can do the most squats, hops, star jumps, get-ups from the floor or whatever other exercises you learn as you go and you can make up and plan your own workouts within your own capabilities. The NHS website has a Change4Life page with 10 minute Disneyinspired shake-ups for little ones.

Have fun keeping your youngsters happy, healthy and active at home in bad weather this winter and avoid meltdowns and boredom while stuck indoors.

Claire Lidstone

Claire is a chartered physiotherapist and owner of Activity4All in Barrow.