Activity/Craft,  Family

Great Ways To Fit In Outdoor Play During Winter

AD/Collaborative post with FATMOOSE, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Getting outside and getting active are both absolutely vital for children’s mental and physical development. Adults know that the endorphin rush that hits us after a good workout or brisk walk can make all the difference to our mood; this rush works in exactly the same way for children. Every day, kids are faced with complex social issues, intricate emotions and the pressure to fit in and please society. Every day our children need to have some way to blow off steam, forget about the pressures of life and have permission to enjoy themselves. That’s why outdoor play is so important.

However, as the seasons change and the nights get darker and the days get colder, heading outside to play can seem a little daunting. In our home, we are massive fans of getting outdoors as we know the benefits of fresh air and exercise can have on the whole family’s mental health. We always try to encourage as much outdoor play time as we can, even as winter sets in. 

If you’re worried about fitting outdoor play into your family routine this winter, here are some great ways for you to still get outside, come rain or shine. 

Children and their dog running down a hill silhouetted against the sunset.
Outdoor play doesn’t have to stop when it gets dark!

Climbing Frames And Other Outdoor Play Equipment.

As it starts to get darker earlier in the evenings, it can be hard to fit in time to play outside. It therefore makes perfect sense to utilise any outdoor space that you own – especially if you’re fortunate enough to have a decent sized garden. Decking out your garden with some good quality outdoor play equipment, such as a swing and slide set from the cool Scandinavian brand FATMOOSE is a brilliant way to ensure your children get some good quality outdoor play time without you needing to worry about the darker evenings as much. Decorating your amazing play equipment with solar powered fairy lights and really allowing your children’s imaginations to run wild is a wonderful, safe way to ensure that they are able to blow off some steam during the winter months. 

Take Advantage Of ‘Bad’ Weather.

When it rains, they say that it’s perfect weather for ducks. I think when it rains, it’s also the perfect weather for muddy woodland walks and extra big puddle jumps. Us grown ups may be reluctant to step outside during a downpour, but I know that my children think that a spot of rain is nothing to be concerned about! As long as we are all wrapped up warm and have our wellies and waterproofs on, there’s no reason for us not to fit in a good session of outdoor play. Usually we find that when it’s a bit soggy outside, we have our favourite places to ourselves. Luke and his little brother could spending hours running around our local Forestry Commision site and taking advantage of the huge wooden play park there, especially if they had it to themselves.

The wet weather also gives us the chance to calm down and talk about things that we don’t usually notice. 

It’s nice to talk about what the children can see and hear that they wouldn’t usually notice: the drops of rain landing in puddles or bouncing off leaves, squirrels digging around on the ground for the last of the season’s food, birds singing in the trees. It’s basically practising mindfulness for children – being present in the moment and appreciating the world around you. 

Invent Outdoor Play Games And Challenges.

Each season we go through has something special about it. Something that’s unique to that time of year. In spring we see bluebells in the woods, lambs being born and colourful spring blossoms. Summer brings sunflowers, long days and nights and tasty food. Autumn gives us beautiful colours and smells, crispy leaves to jump in and blackberry picking. Winter is no different – it brings us snow (sometimes), pinecones and festive cheer. 

Creating games and goals based around the seasons helps us to get outside and make the most of them. Searching for and collecting items associated with the season is a great way to encourage outdoor play as well as teaching our children about the world around them. You could introduce scavenger hunts, collect pinecones for Christmas decorations or make pinecone bird feeders for your garden.

Setting challenges to complete is also a fantastic way to encourage the family to for outside play in. You could set a challenge to bike or scoot a certain distance/route after school every day to earn yourself a special prize or medal. I take part in virtual challenges monthly for running but there are plenty targeted at children for walking, biking, running and swimming. Your children could learn to work hard for their achievements and be rewarded with a nice bit of bling at the end of the month. 

Toddler wearing a puddle suit kneeling down to pick up a twig in the woods.
Outdoor play is all about letting go and exploring the world around you.
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“Midnight” Walks.

When I was younger, my dad used to take us on “midnight walks”. Looking back at it, I realise now that these walks definitely weren’t taking place at midnight but it was definitely dark enough for us to head out locally with torches. It was a real thrill to be out, walking through the woods or local fields with a torch, all grouped together. Occasionally we used to turn our torches off and sneak around trying to scare each other. I think times have changed now and I would probably be worried about taking my children into the woods and for them to turn their lights off, but it was a fun activity that I absolutely loved as a kid. 

A modern day equivalent could be to go to the park after dark. With street lamps and grown ups around, it’s still a safe place to play in the playground and a little game of chase with clear rules could be a fun way of incorporating outdoor play without getting too carried away.

These are just 4 ways that you can help incorporate outdoor play into your winter routine a bit more easily.

I know that it’s hard when the weather is cold and wet and the evenings and mornings are always dark, but we still have to ensure that our children are getting what they need in order to help them process their stress properly. 

Do you have any great outdoor play tips for winter that you think should be included in this post? If so, let me know by leaving a comment, or you could tweet me at @gloryiscalling.

Children and their dog running down a hill silhouetted against the sunset. The words "Great Ways To Fit In Outdoor Play" are underneath the image in white text with a black background.

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.


  • Sarupa Shah

    I think when we live in a country where rain is such an all round feature we can’t let it stop us and you are right as the older I have got the less I want to go out or even out out in the rain – and I hear myself saying no it’s raining and think…c’mon…you’ve inspired me to get out and crunch a few more leaves under my feet!

  • Sarah Stockley

    We still love a woodland walk, it is getting harder to get the girls out with us now being 13 and 11 they kind of don’t always want to. Sometimes we take a flask of hot chocolate out with us which is a good incentive.

  • This German Mama

    We love the great outdoors. We’ve got a dog as well so we really enjoy walks in the rain. It’s so much fun for our daughter.

  • Becky Wilkinson

    As you know 3 out of 4 of the kids play football and 4 evenings and 1 day out of 7 we are out of the house at football! You wouldn’t believe how many drop out as soon as it gets dark and cold. I am so glad for football because I would become a bit of a hermit in the winter!

  • Zoe

    Outdoor play is vital for children, and bad weather shouldn’t stop that. I agree completely with everything here! We love nothing more than a good stomp in the rain!

  • Jenni

    We try to get out regularly in Winter, but during the week it’s quite tough as it gets dark so early. Good idea to go for a walk with torches even though it’s still early, I hadn’t even thought of that.

  • Stephanie Merry

    I’m a big fan of heading outside for some fresh air even in the winter, I know we got my niece and nephew some head torches and wellies so they’d enough splashing in the puddles and turning on the head torches to see better x

  • Jess Howliston

    Great suggestions, my two little ones love nothing more than pulling on their welly boots and going outside in winter to jump in puddles and squelch in mud! Plus your right, playing outdoors in the dark seems like so much more fun! We brought out two a couple of head torches for evening walks during winter. It means we can always see where they are plus we don’t have to worry about them dropping or leaving behind a torch as its on their head lol!

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