By TMoM Team Member Sydney D. Richardson, Ph.D.

Ahh Winter. A time to hibernate, reflect on the past holiday season, and snuggle with a good book or movie under some warm blankets, preferably by a fire. Yeah right! If children surround you, hibernation will not exactly work. Even if you are able to get them to sit down, it often will not be for long hours, unless they are completing an activity that is mesmerizing for them.

Children recently went back to school, but the changing season of winter makes the days feel as though they are flying by and the evenings harder to cope with. When the kids get home from school, there is about 1.5-2 hours of day light before it truly becomes dark. For working parents, no one usually will be together until it is dark (at 5pm or after). Then comes the rush of trying to get everything completed before bedtime (finishing homework, eating dinner, giving baths, reading bedtime stories, and more). While this is the same year round, it just feels different during the winter months versus spring and summer. On the weekends, time continues to fly by due to the lack of light and increased cold temperatures (or fluctuating temperatures) in the winter. What is a family to do?

Coping With Winter – Family Style

Well, there is actually a lot to do with a bit of imagination and one idea is to create a January family bucket list. While the bucket list started as something to do before life ended, the theme has now taken on a life of its own. Not only are there individual bucket lists for seasons, there are bucket lists for holidays, months, years, and more. It is all about finding fun things to do to pass the time and have fun. No longer are bucket lists seen as a sign of life ending, but as a list of creative ways to enjoy life. For January, consider creating a family bucket list.

January is often a month of cold rain, snow, sleet, ice, and sometimes a mix of all of it. Therefore, it is easy to pass the time going to work, school, and then driving home and lounging around. However, that makes for a boring January and restless children. On the weekends, children who have nothing to do become children who tear the house apart (and wreak havoc on parents). Even though January makes one want to stay inside, creating a bucket list provides a great way to:

  1. Do fun, indoor activities
  2. Try new outdoor activities
  3. Try a different take on former activities.

If you have little ones, or even big ones, creating a family bucket list can be fun and make the month go by faster, which is bittersweet. So here we go.

Creating the Family Winter Bucket List

To create this list, gather the family around the dinner table (or living room) and ask everyone what they would want to do for the month. You can even give parameters. For example, to stay budget friendly, ask that everyone think of low cost activities or free activities. Think of crafts where you can purchase materials from discount stores or grocery stores (index cards and markers go a long way). Consider volunteer opportunities. Also, consider oldies but goodies. Everyone loves a good board game, but can your family create a better one? What about the ultimate blanket fort contest? The possibilities are endless. Below is a list to get your family started.

January Bucket List

  • Build a blanket or pillow fort
  • Cook family soup and let the kids help
  • Make snow cream (if it snows)
  • Create a cardboard bird feeder
  • Try a new flavor of hot chocolate
  • Have a snowball fight
  • If it does not snow, have an indoor snowball fight with fake snowballs
  • Have a pajama day
  • Read a new book as a family
  • Play checkers
  • Volunteer for MLK Jr. Day
  • Make window paper snowflakes
  • Bundle up and go for a hike at a nearby trail or park
  • Try a new playground
  • Cook food for or deliver blankets to a homeless shelter
  • Create a family board game
  • Take a trip to the library

What you will find is that your family will have a difficult time thinking of the list in the beginning. However, once you jot down a few ideas, the rest of the ideas will keep coming. If you find that your list is longer than the month, carry those activities into the next month and then you’ll have a yearlong bucket list to work from. To start the list, consider this easy Taco Soup recipe that the children can help make.

Taco Soup

If you enjoy a taco bar or a simple taco night, kick it up with Crockpot taco soup. Pair it with tortilla chips or a grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, grilled cheese goes with almost anything.

You can make this soup on the stove top if you would like, but I recommend the Crockpot (especially for little ones) because there’s less to do and you free up time for other activities.

Easy Crockpot Taco Soup Recipe

Time: 3-6 hours in the Crockpot (depending on high or low settings)
Servings: 6+ people


  • 1.5 pounds of ground beef (cooked and drained)
  • 4-5 tsp diced garlic
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or beef broth
  • 1 can of drained black beans
  • 1 can of drained red kidney beans
  • 1 can of drained corn (not creamed)
  • 1 large (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes (as much or as little as you would like).
  • 1 chopped onion

*Note: omit or add anything that your family enjoys.


  • First, brown the ground beef in a pan, drain it, and set it to the side.
  • If using onion and garlic, sauté those in a pan and add it to the ground beef.
  • In a Crockpot, place the ground beef, onions, and garlic in it.
  • Add the broth and the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Now, you’re done.

Serve with your favorite toppings such as cheese, salsa, sour cream, chives, tortilla chips, over rice, and/or paired with grilled cheese and enjoy! If there is enough left over, this soup can be placed in a freezer safe bag or container and will hold well for 2-3 months. Simply thaw and reheat later.

Between creating a January family bucket list and trying a new recipe, you and your family are off to a great winter start!

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