By J.G. Noll

The holidays are over. The excitement is over. Vacation is over. There’s nothing but the dreary, long landscape of winter months. Cold. Rainy. Snowy. Icy.

And it feels like spring will never, ever, ever, get here.

In fact, you might already feel like you’re Bill Murray trapped in a depressing weather loop.

Add kids who are bored out of their minds, and it might really feel like you’ll never see the sun again.

It’s time to turn this winter on it’s head. Grab the kids (and maybe a bag of snacks or two) and make this winter one to remember.



Not only does the Y have classes and many have pools, but most have (drumroll, please) free babysitting. Add to that the YMCA’s offer of free or discounted membership for military families (depending on your affiliations) and you’ve got a safe, warm, dry place to take the kids. After all, who doesn’t love an indoor pool in the winter? (So fancy!)

Go on a tour


Stationed at Travis AFB? Take the kids to a free tour of the Jelly Belly factory. (It’s just 17 minutes away!) Not close to a hub of industry? If you’re at Buckley AFB, check out the Celestial Seasonings factory tour. In the Virginia Beach area? See the Yankee Candle store. It’s not a factory, but it is an experience– complete with a Christmas area where “snow? falls from the sky every 15 minutes. At Ft. McCoy? Take a road trip to the world’s only SPAM museum. Yes, you read that right: SPAM. (It’s actually really fun!) If you’re not close to a hub of industry, make your own tour. Call the local pizza shop, bakery, or confectionery and see if your kids can observe and see how their products are made.

Discover something new


On a day with good weather, explore a part of your town you’ve never gone to. Check out a new playground, a new park, or walk through a neighborhood you usually don’t frequent. Not exciting enough? Give the kids an objective (“Count how many green objects you can see on our walk!”), play Follow the Leader or I Spy, or create a scavenger hunt to keep them engaged and occupied.

Use your base resources


Go bowling, check out the library, take in a movie (at a reduced cost), and see what programs are available for children and youth. You might have nature trails, outdoor tracks, parks, picnic areas, or other interesting features to explore too. If you’re new to the area, don’t assume that your new base is the same as the one you came from. Every base is different and has unique perks.

Stay home


Then lock the door and run! (Just kidding.) Sometimes the best boredom-busting days are the days when the whole family is present. I don’t mean physically present– we all know that’s sometimes an impossibility as a military family. I mean mentally and emotionally available. Create a no-screens day and see how far your kids’ imaginations will take them. Creativity is an attribute that, when practiced, gets better. So if the kids complain that they’re bored, let them be bored for a little bit. Then, pass them some crayons or Legos, give them a book, or turn up the music. Chances are, you’ll soon be looking at a masterpiece, taking a trip to Hogwarts or Narnia, or participating in a dance-off.