Want to break up the dreary days of winter? Are your kids climbing the walls with boredom? You may be looking for cold-weather activities you can enjoy that deliver lots of fun. And because of possible pandemic-related closures and capacity limits, outdoor or at-home activities may be your only options. Luckily, the February long weekend will be here before you know it. During this time, many Canadians will take a much-needed rest from work to reconnect with their loved ones.

"Family Day is a great opportunity for the whole family to beat the February blahs." So says Caroline Fernandez, the founder of parentclub.ca, dedicated to sharing fun and inexpensive family activities.

"What makes Family Day special is that it's a stress-free holiday," she says. "Unlike other holidays, I don't have to spend money on presents or make huge meals for family and friends. Family Day is truly a day off."

When is Family Day?

Not all provinces and territories observe Family Day. Those that do, may celebrate on different days. Here’s a breakdown of Family Day by province: 

Province When is Family Day?

British Columbia

2nd Monday in February

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario

3rd Monday in February

Prince Edward Island

3rd Monday in February. (PEI celebrates Islander Day.)

Nova Scotia

3rd Monday in February (Nova Scotians celebrate Heritage Day)

Whenever you celebrate, here are 6 ideas that will keep your kids entertained on Family Day - and throughout winter:

1. Enjoy backyard winter games

Is there a future winter athlete in your family? Calgary mom of two, Angela Smith, says having your own backyard winter games can teach kids the value of team spirit. "Everything else is a little imagination and a whole lot of enthusiasm," says Smith.

Here are a few ideas: 

  1. Start with the kids and their friends trotting around the block in a relay race. That's where they pass a "torch" (made from a few simple craft items) to one another. 
  2. Next, set up an obstacle course made of snow. 
  3. Use a hill for speed climbing, a slope for sled racing and/or a flat space for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. 
  4. If the snow is right, make a snowman-building competition. 
  5. Lastly, hand out gold, silver and bronze “medals” (homemade, or even some round cookies will do!), along with hot chocolate, to the young champions.

2. Go snow painting with the kids

Let your budding Picassos add some pizazz to your winter wonderland. Toronto mom Catherine Doyle pours various colours of tempera paint into small jars and bundles up her brood. "I draw shapes in the snow to serve as a canvas and let the kids paint pictures," says Doyle. "They can write messages in the snow, or even add colour to a snowman." No mess or fuss here. The paint is child- and animal-safe, washable and won't stain snow pants or winter coats. 

Don’t have paint on hand? Mixing a few drops of food colouring in water works too. Waterloo mom, Jillian Stinson upcycles old condiment bottles for the coloured water. “It’s fun for the kids to squeeze coloured water onto the snow to make designs. Or, they can mix colours in a container. Then, leave their creation outside to discover colourful ice once it’s frozen.” 

3. Play outdoor tourist in your own town or city

Appreciate your town and all it has to offer for outdoor winter fun. Take the road less travelled and plan a day trip exploring new places on your home turf. Bring the kids on an adventure to a new playground, ice rink, sledding hill or conservation area. Consider planning a day of it. Plan a route and set a time for each location. Then, warm up between visits in the car on the way to your next destination. Pack some healthy snacks ahead of time. And grab a warm drink from a drive through on your way to the next stop. 

4. Create a family portrait

Celebrate your child's inner artist and your growing family with a new tradition. Linda Walker, a Winnipeg mother of four, says a child-drawn family portrait may not be the most flattering, but it's cute. Frame the family portrait and hang it for all to see, adding a new one each year. "Over the years, our portrait wall has become a beautiful memory of our family," says Walker. "Copies of the portrait also make great gifts for aunts, uncles and grandparents."

5. Host an indoor beach party

When the wind is howling outside, keep the little ones entertained with an indoor beach party. Decorate your living or family room with photos, seashells, a beach umbrella and a poster-board sun. Turn up the surf tunes and enjoy a hula hoop competition, the limbo or balloon beach volleyball. And while you're at it, sip on fruit smoothies with little umbrellas. Don’t forget to put on your beach wear!

6. Build a blanket fort

Toronto dad Scott MacDonald encourages his children's imaginative play by building a fort with blankets and chairs. That's what he used to do with his own father. "We like to tell stories around a make-believe campfire while snacking on hot dogs or marshmallows," says MacDonald. A blanket fort can be even more fun by having a family sleepover inside it. Now that's roughing it.

Whatever you do, time spent together is the best way to celebrate Family Day. 

Want some more ideas? 

Check out Lumino Health’s Fitness Guide or Healthy at Home Guide.

You’ll find tips and information from experts to help keep up your family’s health and wellness routines.

This article is meant to provide general information only. It’s not professional medical advice, or a substitute for that advice.