Ways to spend quality time with the kids this winter

  • 18/07/2022
  • Sponsored by - Escea
DX1500: Design: Product X Architecture.
DX1500: Design: Product X Architecture. Photo credit: Supplied

At this mid-way point of the school holidays, you'd be forgiven for feeling like the cabin fever and drudgery of being "stuck" at home might never end.

In between the torrential downpours and constant sicknesses, it's important to set aside some time amongst the neverending work and household tasks to relax and reconnect as a family.

"Many parents are feeling drained and run down at the moment," says Parenting Place's Holly Brooker. 

"We don't need to put unrealistic pressure on ourselves to make sure our kids have the most action-packed fun time in the school break. But we can try to prioritise a few moments to make sure our kids feel significant and connected."

To provide some sparks of inspiration, we've put together five ideas to warm up your body and soul these holidays.

Left: Escea x FF: Design: Futureflip.
Left: Escea x FF: Design: Futureflip. Photo credit: Supplied

1. Gather around the fire

At the end of a fun-filled winter's day, gather the family together and break out the board games for some cosy, device-free fun.

As well as strengthening whanau bonds, Educational psychologist Marie Kelly says games are an ideal way for parents to demonstrate good communication.

"Playing games provides an excellent opportunity to model behaviour such as playing fair, being a good winner and a good loser."

It's even better if the friendly competitions take place fireside. A 2014 study showed the warmth, smell, flickering light and crackling sounds of a fire elicit a primal "relaxation response" in people, which reduced stress and lowered blood pressure among study participants.

Fire has been the focal point of social gatherings since early humans first worked out how to control it, and the Escea Fireplace Company strives to replicate this in modern homes.

Escea EP1350 Fire Table.
Escea EP1350 Fire Table. Photo credit: Supplied

"We want to create objects that enable families to spend more time together, enjoy each other's company, and create memories," says lead designer Alex Hodge.

Hodge and his family have an Escea Fire Table in their backyard, where they enjoy creating a holiday camp fire experience and bond over toasting marshmallows.

"A fireplace seems to change a cold evening from a hassle into something quite special. Evenings seem longer and calmer when the fire is on, and it's nice after a busy day to take some time out."

2. Bake and cook up a storm

What better way to warm up than by cranking up the oven or stove and preparing some nourishing food?

Younger tamariki might enjoy a trip to the shops to select in-season vegetables for a warming soup. Involve them in age-appropriate stages of preparation: washing, peeling and cutting produce help teach fine motor skills, independence and healthy eating habits.

For older ones, a Masterchef-inspired cookoff to see who can produce the best meal from a mystery box of items foraged from around the kitchen will encourage creativity and risk-taking.

Decorating gingerbread cookies or cupcakes is a great way to fill a morning - combat mess and short attention spans by doing the baking and preparing the icing the night before, creating delicious blank canvases ready to be adorned the next day.

3. Get crafty

Banish complaints of boredom by getting creative with things you already have around home.

Busy Toddler is a fantastic resource for simple indoor activity ideas, from the weird (painting ice) to the wonderful (DIY ball run) and the why-didn't-I-think-of-that (toy washing station).

Arts and crafts are about more than just creating beautiful things. Kelly says getting out the paints and glitter can also help the development of important life skills.

"These activities provide opportunities for parents to pass on skills like problem solving and communication – skills that naturally improve your child's self-confidence," she says.

A great parenting hack to make cleanup a breeze: set up the art studio in your bathroom.

Ways to spend quality time with the kids this winter
Photo credit: Supplied

4. Puzzle it over

The winter holidays are a perfect time to excavate those puzzles from the back of your toy cupboard.

Whether done as a solitary or group activity, puzzles promote concentration, perseverance, problem solving and visual-spatial reasoning.

5. Take to the ice

Why not embrace the season by trying some winter sports? You don't need to take an expensive, days-long trip to the snow - many cities have year-round indoor ice rinks, which means they're weather-proof, although you'll still need to wrap up warm as you wobble your way around.

Both Auckland and Wellington have special rinks set up in the central city these holidays, and if you're lucky enough to live in Te Waipounamu, there are several outdoor rinks up and running, including in Tekapo, Naseby and Alexandra.

This article was created for Escea.