Health and Wellness, Parenting

Ten Ways to Relax with Your Family During the Winter Break

Woman sitting on a grey couch with red socks, sipping a cup of coffee.

The winter break between semesters can be a great time to relax and recharge before classes begin. But when you are used to constantly thinking about school, work, and caregiving, it can sometimes be hard to remember how to relax, especially if you have family responsibilities.  Following is a list of ten fun and relaxing activities for both you and your family to enjoy.

1. Read a Book for Fun
As a student, the amount of assigned textbook chapters and academic articles can sometimes drain the fun out of reading. The winter break is an excellent opportunity to take back the joy of reading and introduce yourself or your family to a new story. There are plenty of winter children’s books out there, as well as cozy books that appeal to an older audience. The best part about using the winter break to get some reading done is that it can be totally free through the Toronto Public Library. Simply sign up for a library card, and you’ll have access to thousands of physical books, audiobooks and movies.  They even have a dedicated website for kids.

2. Play Board Games
Even as a 21-year-old university student, whenever I visit family we always end up playing board games. While many know the classics like Pictionary or Monopoly, there is a world of games waiting to be discovered.  Whether you are looking for something kid friendly or you plan on having a night with friends, there is something for everyone.  One of my personal favourites is Ticket to Ride, which is for 2-5 players with a recommended age of 8+. I love this game because it is easy to learn (15 minutes or less), and it doesn’t take long to complete.  If you don’t want to buy game sets and live in Toronto, I recommend Snakes and Lattes, a child-friendly café with an extensive board game library where you can play all you want for $8 per person.

3. Make Something Yummy
The winter break can be an excellent time to try out some new recipes.  As a child one of my fondest memories was cooking with my mom and nana – a talent that came in handy when I moved out and had to make cost-effective meals by myself.  You could use this time to learn some new healthy recipes to bring into your meal repertoire or make something sweet for a treat.  Either way, you and your family can bond over cooking, plus you’ll have something yummy to eat afterward.

4. Have a Movie Marathon
A great way to spend time with your family without much planning or effort is to watch a movie together. Gather up some snacks, hot chocolate and fuzzy blankets, and settle in for a family movie night. With free movie rentals from the Toronto Public Library and multiple streaming platforms, there’s definitely something for everyone. If you are looking to get out of the house, you can drop by the Cineplex for their Family Favourites events on Saturdays at 11:00am. Admission is $2.99 per person, so bring the whole family!

5. Colour
Colouring isn’t just for children anymore! Research has shown that colouring can actually help adults de-stress and there have been several colouring books created with this purpose in mind. If you don’t want to dedicate yourself to an entire book, there are plenty of printable colouring pages out there – plus some for the younger children in your family so you can colour together. I personally love to colour while listening to music or an audiobook.

6. Go for a Walk
There are some beautiful things to see outside in December!  With many stores, homes and parks decorated for the holiday season, it can be one of the best time of the year to take a walk around your neighbourhood. When I was a child, my family would love to go out and play I-Spy with the bright lights and decorations. You could also have a contest to see who can find the most beautiful display. If you’re not sure where to go, your family won’t want to miss Toronto Waterfront’s free art exhibit during the month of December.  Bundle up and enjoy this free way to get your family active and outside!

7. Decorate Your Space
I know for me, the state of my mind directly reflects the state of the space where I am. That’s why I love to periodically change my décor. Whether this involves simply reorganizing that pesky junk corner, or adding new visuals for the season, decorating can be fun and inexpensive. You can do crafts with your family and make fun paper chains or cut out snowflakes.  For additional ambiance, you could even add some lights: fairy lights are a good option because they are energy efficient and can be used all year round.

8. Watch Funny Videos
When life gets stressful sometimes you just need a laugh.  Although watching YouTube can get you into an extended video watching loop, these videos can bring a smile to even the most exhausted face. My favourite videos involve animals doing funny things or just being incredibly cute.  Enjoy!

9. Listen to Music
A great way to relax and forget about the outside world is to listen to music.  In addition to other videos, YouTube also offers free music. I prefer to play something instrumental which also has beautiful visuals. There are countless playlists of winter music, or even the soundtrack from the Nutcracker. If you have young children, you could have a family sing along with some children’s classics.

10. Cozy Up with a Hot Beverage – and Do Nothing
With the busyness of school/work/ family, doing nothing can seem like an impossible concept, but this can be a great way to recharge! Even taking 10 minutes out of your day to make a cup of tea or hot chocolate, while your children are napping or otherwise busy, can be refreshing.


With all of the stresses we face in our daily lives, it can sometimes be challenging to take a time-out and do something enjoyable.  Hopefully these tips have given you some new ideas for how to have some fun and enjoy during the holidays. Are there any other things you like to do to relax? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

Emily Pritchard

Emily is currently completing her undergraduate degree with a specialist in Criminology and a minor in Sociology. She plans to pursue a career in social work, with a focus on working with children and youth. When not studying or working at the Family Care Office, she spends her time reading the latest books and trying out new recipes. So, that’s Emily in a nutshell, reading, writing and cooking. Quite the picture, I’m sure!

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