Winter is so very here. And after the Patriots’ disappointing loss on Sunday, I think my family went into a state of collective mid-winter post-Patriots shock and pseudo depression yesterday. So, we did what many Patriots fans did. We went to bed in a state of shock. Then we woke up, wallowing in “what-if’s”. We complained, lost sleep, and over-ate to try to forget about the game. Then we got over ourselves and remembered what Martin Luther King Day is all about.

We ordered take-out, played board games by the fire, watched movies, drew pictures and had a blast connecting silly words together with Banana Grams. Where anyone else would see a word like “art,” my husband would add an “f”, and make us all giggle. It reminded me that life is too short to worry about the weather, or a really bad game. I needed to take a step back and appreciate these wintry, cozy days.

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Here are 10 cheap tips to help your family beat the winter blahs:

1)      Make hot cocoa. Nothing cheers up kids (and adult chocoholics like me) faster than some good old-fashioned hot cocoa and whipped cream!

2)      Play games. Make sure you have at least two board games in your house that are appropriate for the whole family. If playing “Monopoly” with a five-year-old does not sound inviting, try these: 1) Jenga; 2) Build blocks; 3) Set up a maze of dominos and knock them all down, or 4) Build a fort with blankets.

3)      Build a fire in the fireplace. Have your kids help collect the wood for the fire and let the adults handle the rest!

4)      Go outside. Build a snowman. Go sledding. At least stick your head outside for crying out loud. If there’s no snow, make fun contests like taking turns running around the house; or shooting baskets and playing “P.I.G.” or “H.O.R.S.E.”

5)      Host a playdate. We like our kids to have friends over when it gets a little dull around here. (It also allows you to catch up on dishes.)

6)      Go for a walk in the snow. Take your dog. Pull your toddler with a sled. There’s nothing better than a little exercise and fresh air to combat cabin fever! When you see your 90-year-old neighbor doing it, there is no excuse, so grab your coat and go!

7)      Get lost in a book. My daughter compares reading a good book to “a movie playing inside your head.” And my son loves reading too. If your kids aren’t old enough to hide in their own rooms for a book break, try reading a book together as a family. Take turns if they are old enough.

8)      Bake something. Make cookies, brownies or cupcakes. Pretend to be Buddy from Cake Boss, complete with an apron and a fun baking challenge.

9)      Go offline. Turn off your cell phones, computers and video games for a few hours as a family. Take a break from it all. Do something else like draw, swap stories or make a craft. When was the last time you made something with a carton of milk or a paper plate? Use your imagination!

10)   Host a movie night, complete with popcorn and cookies. Grab all the blankets and pillows in the house and cuddle up together. Before you know it, your kids will be off to college and they won’t want to spend evenings together as a family!

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