Sometime during the winter months, cabin fever strikes. The kids are cranky and complaining there’s nothing to do. As a family, you’ve experienced the exhilaration and adrenalin rush of downhill skiing and snowboarding. You’ve tuned-up your bodies while gliding quietly in the incredible magnificence of scenic alpine terrain that boggles the mind. But, winter isn’t over. How can you alleviate boredom and inspire the kids to get back outside and take a break from technology? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy – just bundle up for some outdoor play.

Get back to simple.

First, make snow angels. Build a snow family including family pets. Make snow forts, divide up into teams and throw snowballs at each other. Burn out that boredom. It’s easy to adapt summer backyard games to winter games. Use your imagination.

The thrill of a hill is calling and active play starts with sledding and tubing anywhere there’s a hill – at a local park, golf course, or designated tubing hill. If you don’t have sleds, use cardboard or sturdy plastic. Even the local hardware stores carry cheap plastic snow shovels for sliding. The most innovative sled of the season is the Orvis sled on a bum! We also like the streamlined mini-luge snow sled you can purchase online, but there are a ton of sled options available. One overall favorite we’ve reviewed is Mountain Boy Sledworks, maker of heirloom sleds to pass down for generations.

Move those feet for more active play – snowshoeing. Anyone who can walk can snowshoe, which makes it a great multi-generational sport for building shared memories. Most local sports stores rent snowshoes, but the new lightweight ones are fairly inexpensive. We’ve personally moved from vintage wood snowshoes with rawhide webbing and leather bindings to Atlas lightweight V-shaped aluminum-framed snowshoes with a toe crampon/heel cleat combination which still provides challenging aerobic workouts. Our national parks conduct ranger-led snowshoe tours where you can explore the ecology of a forest while honing snowshoeing skills and learning winter safety. Wildlife is still active and tracks in the snow tell their stories. Subscribe to Snowshoe Magazine. You’ll be amazed at the growth of this sport. We keep a ready-to-rumble snowshoeing backpack handy during the winter months for a grab and go.

Other classic winter sports are ice skating and ice hockey. If you’re not lucky enough to have a local ice rink, break out the hose and create your own backyard rink. Many local parks and recreation departments create outdoor rinks with warming huts.

Don’t forget backcountry hiking (not ski touring – another great active family sport) in the snow on trails where snowshoes are too much of a good thing. Just strap on your spikes or yak trax and trail gaiters, grab that ever-ready backpack and go. For the truly adventurous and slightly crazed cowboy in each of us, perhaps an exploration into the extreme world of skijoring will satisfy. All you need is a dog or a trusty steed!

With a warm attitude towards winter, cabin fever is banished forever. Outdoor play benefits fitness and overall health – another win-win for families. Remember, humans were not meant to hibernate. So many winter options. So little time. See you in the snow!

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