It has been weeks of this time change and our internal clocks are still very confused. The darkness catches us off guard, and we feel stuck inside without our post-dinner backyard play or family walk.

We are finding a few ways to still enjoy evening family time, get some exercise, and forget our its-dark-way-too-early-blues. Here are a few helpful ideas for making the long dark a little more fun for your family, too.

Flash light walks

It is very cold out, lower than 30 degrees, but the kids are running laps around the house and their joyful shouts echo off the walls. If it was springtime, we would send them outside. If it was summer, we would take them on a walk after dinner because the sun sets after bedtime.

It isn’t spring or summer now, and it seems like they will never go to bed. Go on a walk anyway! We bundle up in all our snow gear and take flashlights and head out. The kids think it is exciting to walk in the dark. It is an adventure, and the flashlights feel like a new toy.

Exercise + Excitement = Easy bedtime!

Kid-friendly happy hour

It’s five o’clock somewhere! After naps and before Daddy gets home can feel like an eternity. Happy Hour makes the waiting time enjoyable and gives you and your little ones something to look forward to doing together.

We get out games, and I make special drinks for us all. We add sparkling water to the kids juice and put a lime wedge in it.

XBOX connect

XBOX has some great games that will have you on your feet and begging for air! Our favorites are XBOX Kinect Adventures and Just Dance. My husband and I enjoy doing them with the kids, so it is a great family activity after dinner for us to all be together. Everyone is worn out and ready for pjs, books, and bed after this.

Dance parties

This is not for all families, but it is for all kids. They have few inhibitions when you blast songs, and it is so fun to see their personalities shine when they start dancing around the room.

Our kids beg us to dance with them, and we happily oblige, laughing the entire time. We also started teaching our kids “The Chicken Dance,” “The Hokey Pokey,” and “The Electric Slide,” which gives a little more structure to the dance party so everyone isn’t tackling each other and running around.

Afternoon bath time (with bath crayons)

There is never time for all the bath play or mess when it is bedtime. My kids beg “Just a little bit longer” and my oldest will regularly ask, “Can you fill it up so I can soak?” There are so many accessories for the bath now that cleaning kids is no longer the priority. Our kids think bath time is playtime so…let’s make it just that!

Let them cover the walls, the tub, and themselves with bath crayons and paints. Bath bombs foam and bubble and turn the water different colors. You can even take that bottle of bubbles from last summer into the bath and let them blow them around. They last longer without the wind!

Treasure hunts

These are really simple and take little planning. Take a small piece of paper and draw familiar and obvious objects around your home for your kids to go find. Make sure the hunt covers a few rooms. Give them each a basket or a bag to collect the items, which they have to bring to you.

Once you have checked their items, they have to put them all back. If you have multiple kids, let them switch lists and go again!