For the Birds

[ 6 ] January 23, 2011 |

I have struggled for many years with seasonal affective disorder and I noticed early on that my kids get pretty icky this time of year, too. The problem isn’t knowing what to do. Go outside and get some sunshine — that’s simple. The problem is motivation.

Some days it’s just so darn cold. And gray. And windy. And I’m tired. And the kids would be so much easier to deal with if I just turn on the TV. Or so I think. Nothing makes my kids crankier than TV…And then I remember!

“Hey kids, help me fill up the birdfeeders.”

BirdfeederThey usually come running and we enjoy this simple, sweet task together. Sometimes the kids get distracted by something or someone else and start playing. Sometimes we pick a spot far enough away to keep the birds from feeling anxious, munch on some chocolate chip granola bars, and wait with binoculars, cameras, sketch pads, and our very favorite field guide for the next 15 minutes or more. Besides fighting the winter blues by getting us outside, our birdfeeders help engage my family in a quiet, cooperative activity and develop our observation skills. My kids’ excitement when they see birds eating the seed we’ve provided is heartwarming to say the least, especially if it’s a cardinal flashing its beautiful red feathers across an otherwise dreary landscape. They love it! And I truly believe viewing and learning more about birds is helping to instill a sense of respect and concern for wildlife and, therefore, a greater enthusiasm for being outside.
Filling up the birdfeeder

“Hey kids, help me fill up the birdfeeders.”

Works every time! What works for you?

Tags:

Category: activities: outdoor, nature/science


Jeanine Silversmith

about the author ()

Jeanine is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. Jeanine also works for the RI Environmental Education Association, supporting formal and informal teachers as they create "place-based" curriculum. She loves to hike, run, garden, bake, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her daughter, Sierra, and her son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.

Comments (6)

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  1. Margaret says:

    Great idea! We don’t have any sort of field guide, that would be fun.
    We do the usual, sledding, audubon, try to meet friends at the park even if its only for a short time. Bird feeding will be a nice change of pace.

  2. I struggle with winter, too, although I’ve noticed this year seems to be better. I think we’ve had more sunny days than usual? But here’s an idea for when the sun doesn’t cooperate–the room I set up for our arts/craft/sewing area is in the basement and has no windows and thus no natural light. Terrible! So I went in search of better lighting and ended up with “daylight” bulbs. It’s so bright down there with the lights on that my camera turns the flash off itself. The salesperson told me people often use these light bulbs to help with SAD, so I wonder if our lighting is helping me this winter too.

  3. Katy Killilea Katy Killilea says:

    i love this! it’s so true! my dog makes me go outside. it makes winter much better. sometimes the children are forced to come too. no one WANTS to go out, but once we’re out life is so much better.

  4. I think if we could only sleep 15 hours a day then it would be a lot easier this time of year 😉 But since that’s not going to happen, time outside is truly therapeutic. Even today, as cold as it is, I really didn’t want to walk the 0.2 miles to the bus stop with my kids. But we bundled up and at least got a little bit of time outside…

  5. Laura C. says:

    Exercise helps, too! I try to keep my kids active by continuing to swim at an indoor pool. We also just tried a gymnastics class. You can even be active indoors. Use a kids yoga video, hippity hops, or “wheel-barrow” races….

  6. Eve O. says:

    I love kidoinfo! I don’t have seasonal sensitivity but defintely know why they call it cabin fever! We have 3 yo twins and a 2 year old and I am finding that variety and options for activity are really key even in the cold. Some recent “indoor” outings that have really worked for us…a saturday morning trip to IKEA (go early – and if you get your lunch/snack at the snackbar after checkout, pick up cinnamon buns for sunday breakfast!), renaissance gymnastics in east prov and free RISD sunday open studio followed by climbing up and down lots and lots of stairs and snack in the Chace entrance lobby (coatroom and free lockers there too). Thanks again for a great site!

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