Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Mixing It Up in 2013
New activities for the whole family to try

January 01, 2013

If the post-holiday “blahs” are setting in with your family, adding some new activities to the calendar may be just what you need to keep everyone happy as they trudge through the remaining winter months. No need to escape to a warmer climate for fun; these ideas are right in your own back yard.

A Change of Scenery

Winter can be tough on everyone, and sometimes a simple change of scenery can be enough to change the mood. At the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, both you and your kids will be entertained by the wide array of activities available. Dr. Jeffrey Patchen, President and CEO, encourages families to try some of the museum’s family-friendly offerings, such as performances in the Space Quest Planetarium and adventures in the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit.

“Our programs bring families together by providing unique experiences that foster sharing and memory-making,” Patchen says, adding that parents should check out the museum’s online schedule for upcoming events.

Meanwhile, if your little one is willing to brave the cold, consider heading to the Indianapolis Zoo, which is open year-round. Public Relations Director Jon Glesing says that many of the animals, such as tigers, polar bears, walruses and seals, can be more active in the cold weather. In addition, the Indianapolis Zoo offers some great indoor areas when you need a break from the outdoors, such as the Deserts, Oceans and Dolphin exhibits.

Glesing adds that the Zoo promotes a number of family-friendly activities during the wintertime, such as Dolphin Training 101, sleepovers and the Elephant Art Adventure.

“Getting Schooled” on a Saturday

Older kids can benefit from taking classes that cater to their interests and talents. For the artistically inclined, The Indianapolis Art Center offers classes in ten different media, including ceramics, glass blowing, and digital and darkroom photography. There are programs suited for kids ages two and up, so even the littlest Picasso will be able to get involved.

Instructor Valorie Flaherty says classes are designed to be accessible and affordable, so that kids can get experience with many different media. Flaherty explains that this type of instruction allow kids to meet and interact with like-minded peers, which can build confidence and social skills.

Art classes are a fun way for families to bond, too. “The Art Center’s family activities are a great way to be together and create together. It’s so special when children get complete one-on-one attention with their family members. An ‘It looks great!’ from their parent makes them so proud.”

Indoor Physical Outlets

As temperatures dip and inclement weather makes outdoor fun difficult, consider heading inside for your physical activities. Exercise not only helps burn off pent-up energy, but the boost of endorphins can improve kids’ moods, too.

For energetic little ones, consider a children’s yoga class. Through yoga, kids will learn poses that strengthen their bodies and breathing techniques that help calm their minds. Check the schedules at your favorite studio, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis or the Lululemon store at the Keystone Mall. You’ll be sure to find a class for your little yogi.

Even the Children’s Museum offers family fitness events. Director of Media and Public Relations Kimberly Harms suggests families look into their upcoming “Fun Family Fitness Day” on Saturday, February 9. The event will feature various activities designed to help the whole family learn how to stay healthy and active together.

Meanwhile, if you are missing your summertime treks to pool, consider heading to one of Indianapolis’ indoor amusement parks, such as Caribbean Cove Indoor Water Park or Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park and Resort. In addition to various daily and weekend packages, both parks offer special events for the whole family.

Lastly, for those looking for an adrenaline-infused dose of family fun, check out Sky-Zone, a “trampoline playground” for both adults and kids. There are “skyrobics” classes for parents, “toddler time” for little ones and fun activities for all ages in-between. Jaime Martino, Managing Partner at Sky Zone, says “Jumping is not only fun, but it's great exercise without even realizing you're getting a workout!”

New Activities, New Insights

No matter what you decide to try this winter, the important thing is that you and the kids are doing something new -- and doing it together. By enrolling in new classes or spending the afternoon at a different museum, you’ll be opening your child up to different experiences and interests.

You’ll also have the chance to see your child in a new light - what interests them, what strengths they have and what types of activities they enjoy. Explains Dr. Patchen, “There’s a dynamic energy when parents are engaged with their children. Sometimes parents learn from their children; sometimes children learn from each other; and of course, there are times when children learn from adults.”

By trying new activities as a family, you’ll learn new things about your child you probably wouldn’t have otherwise - which means that the next time he or she complains “I’m bored,” you’ll know exactly what to do!