Once the holidays season is over, it’s difficult to sustain the cheer through the rest of the long, dark days of winter. All that anticipation and fun come crashing to a halt. You’d think the kids would be busy with their new toys and all, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

This year, instead of sinking into the doldrums…

…bring some hygge (a Scandinavian word for the concept of “cozy”) and just plain fun to the snowy season that is upon us.

Having fun in the snow.

Here are some ideas to help you play a little more so you can enjoy yourself along the way:

  1. Let there be light! Worldwide, there are nearly a dozen winter holidays and many of them celebrate with lights and/or candles. Stock up on votives and twinkle lights and keep the light shining. If you have toddlers in your home fake candles will do in a pinch—they even flicker.
  2. Keep things festive. Once you have the lights and candles lit, you might as well keep the celebratory mood going. Try having weekly “fancy” dinners. That could be anything from foods with dipping sauces (for littles) to appetizer night with seltzer in pretty glasses (for older kids). Children old enough to help cook usually love the opportunity to participate.
  3. Make it silly. This one is especially for you parents of toddlers and preschoolers. Whether you are pretending your socks are earmuffs, making up a promotional jingle about breakfast, or talking in a funny accent/robot voice, YOU CAN’T BEAT SILLY. If it feels like it will take too much time to be silly, I promise it will take you just as much time (if not more) to NOT be silly.
  4. Get outside. Yes, it’s freezing. But as Alfred Wainwright famously said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Bundle everyone up and get out there. One January morning I spent 20 minutes wrapping up every exposed part of my 8-year-old’s body and sent him out for a day of skiing in 1-degree weather. I thought he would last about an hour, but I was wrong! He was perfectly warm under all that gear.
  5. Arts and crafts. Take the cream of the crop of any fresh art supplies or craft kits and tuck them away for a special occasion (ahem, snow day). Whenever you see a clearance sale, snag googly eyes/pipe cleaners/stickers and add them to your collection. After the fun, tuck the supplies away for the next time you need them.

Maine winters are long.

A snowy day.

Even if you only try a few of these ideas, it will make your days a little brighter. One last thing; take care to nourish yourself, too. You must have some of your own fun. If you have a partner, go on an occasional date.

You don’t need a partner to date, you can date yourself! My personal favorite is to grab a hot tea and wander around a bookstore ALONE. If you can’t find or afford a babysitter, see if you can swap childcare with a friend for a win-win.

If all else fails, brings some intention to a stay-at-home night by doing whatever will make things feel cozy and peaceful after the kids are (finally) asleep.

Sarah MacLaughlin is author of the award-winning book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children and has been featured in The Huffington Post. She’s writing new book Raising Humans With Heart: Not A How-To Manual. A human development nerd, she brings over 25 years of experience working with children and families to her coaching practice. Sarah is also mom to a tweenager who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice.

This article was originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of Parent & Family.