Sanity-saving activities to keep the home atmosphere “cool” during the cold months.
By Vicki Allsopp
Living in Colorado, winter is always welcome. But with the possibility of many indoor and outdoor activities not being available per usual, the need for alternatives is imperative.
Here are some fun activities to consider while keeping it close to home. Whether with pets, kids or your local community, there are plenty of ways to avoid cabin fever.
Pamper Your Pooch
Has your furry friend noticed you roaming from room to room, sometimes aimlessly? Our pets have been right alongside us, feeling our stress as we shelter in place. (They love that we’re home more, though!) It’s time to thank them for sticking by our sides. From major makeovers to mini-manis, check out these creative ideas.
Personal Wag ’n’ Wash
Custom pet wash stations have grown in popularity over the past decade. So much so, some builders include them as floor plan options. But you don’t have to buy a new house to pamper the pooch.
The No. 1 choice: a mudroom remodel. Perfect, because many mudrooms are accessed directly from outside. Your pooch need never leave muddy, paw-shaped prints all over the house again.
When choosing designs, consider a raised bathing station. (Your back will thank you.) Many pet grooming tubs and showers have built-in ramps or stairs, making it easy for your pup to get in and out. Check out sites like petedge.com or progroom.com for design options.
Opt for a handheld sprayer with a long, flexible hose to reach that dirt-gathering underbelly. Make sure to incorporate towel racks or hooks, preferably within arm’s reach for a quick duck-and-cover when the inevitable shake-and-spray water dance occurs.
Get creative when choosing decor. How about a whimsical wallpaper featuring Rover romping in a meadow? Frame your favorite photos to personalize the pooch space or purchase dog bone, paw print or any other dog-themed wall art to round out the mise en scène.
Just as we humans need the occasional rubdown to soothe the aches and pains, our canine and feline BFFs benefit from massage.
If you’re the DIY type, there are online instruction courses available, from full certification courses to basic YouTube videos. Just verify that the source is credible before you begin practicing.
If you’re more the sit-back-and-watch type, several local canine massage therapists, like Peak Animal Wellness and Massage, do house calls.
Spas for Paws
When it’s a four-legged friend, is it considered a manicure or a pedicure? Regardless, an inexpensive investment in a Dremel to grind down their nails and some colorful nail polish is all you need for a fun (and funny) pet-pampering experience. If you do go the Dremel route, be sure to consult your vet or local groomer on how to do it without harming your pet. You can do some serious damage by making nails too short.
Cooking With Kids
It may take five times longer to make a meal, but cooking with your kids is immensely rewarding and provides them with great learning experiences. Here are a few ideas for kid-friendly, budget-friendly, bonding-moment mealtimes.
Remember how fun it was as a child to take pad and pen in hand, asking for imaginary (or real) orders?
Plan a restaurant night with the family. Kids can spend the day creating colorful, snazzy menus, creating original place settings, making meal choices, preparing the food, escorting “guests” to the table, and serving the food. There’s a job for everyone and every age.
Of course, don’t forget to tip your server!
The Great BoCo Kitchen Challenge
There’s a reason contest-style cooking shows are so intriguing. Competition fuels creativity, and everyone is motivated to win. Organize a family cooking contest to bring out the best in your little chefs. If you’re concerned about kitchen congestion, stagger contestant start times or try a no-bake/low bake alternative:
No-Bake Cookie Contest: Search “no bake cookie recipes” online for hundreds of ideas.
Spaghetti Surprise: Prepare one giant pot of pasta, then have contestants raid the pantry and fridge for sauces and other add-ins to create the most unique (and edible) dish. To make it more challenging for older kids, supply a basket of mystery ingredients that must be incorporated into the pasta dish.
Will It Waffle?: If you’ve got a waffle iron, challenge each member of the family to come up with ideas beyond the plain buttermilk variety. Waffles aren’t just for breakfast, so think stuffing, corn bread, hash browns—just about any ingredient you have on hand.
If there’s one positive that came from COVID-19, it’s that we are more comfortable doing things virtually. Check out these kid-centric online cooking classes, some fee-based, some free:
outschool.com: scroll down to “Classes by Subject” and under “Life Skills,” select “Cooking”
foodlabboulder.com/kids-store: local Boulder cooking school offers occasional virtual class options
tinychefs.com: unlimited live Zoom classes with an annual membership (also has a Teen Chef option)
kids-table.com: one offering is a five-week “Kids, Teens and Families Can Cook” series ($78)
foodliteracycenter.org/cooking-kids: printable recipes with free 15- to 20-minute demo videos via Facebook and YouTube
Connect With Community
Volunteerism: A tried-and-true (and scientifically proven) way to reduce stress and battle anxiety.
Despite coronavirus complications, organizations still rely on helping hands to accomplish their goals. Some organizations offer virtual volunteerism, while others have in-person opportunities with guidelines for following safe COVID-19 practices.
2-1-1 Help Center
Virtual volunteers take inbound calls or conduct outbound calls to gather additional information from Coloradans needing resources, including food, shelter, rent payment assistance, housing, child care or transportation.
Boulder County Open Space
From volunteer naturalist or soil health monitor to seed collection scout or raptor nest monitor, there are outdoor volunteer opportunities for various interests.
Pre-pandemic, this organization recruited volunteers as drivers and performance companions, escorting seniors to cultural events in Boulder County. Currently, you can volunteer as a phone friend.
The need for food assistance has dramatically increased as a result of COVID-19. Community Food Share provides hunger relief through its onsite food bank, senior food program and mobile food pantries. Food bank volunteers are required to follow strict guidelines for safety.
Help enhance quality of life for people with physical, developmental and cognitive disabilities by supporting community-involvement opportunities. Imagine! is currently offering remote and socially distanced volunteer opportunities.
Show your support and appreciation to the military personnel who serve (or have served) our country, as well as first responders here in the U.S. Virtual volunteer opportunities include making paracord “survival” bracelets, handwriting letters, and donating your sewing, knitting or crocheting skills for Handmade with Love care package items.
Volunteer for the crisis line, assisting victims of relationship abuse, which has markedly increased during the pandemic. Additional opportunities include help with legal paperwork, court appearances, data entry and community outreach presentations.