Let’s face it, winter in New Jersey isn’t always a wonderland. This is true for every resident, including those who have disabilities or have a child with a disability or special need. Disability and winter weather don’t always mix.
Blizzards. Damaged roads. Closed schools & programs. Icey ramps. Frozen pipes. Buried cars.
We may not have it as bad as some of the more northern states, but we do have our issues and nothing is going to stop us from complaining about them. A bit of bad weather can keep they whole family cooped up inside for days at a time. This closeness can bring together a family or test the limits of its patience. So we’ve compiled a few tips and activities that can keep you and yours active and happy during the winter season. Since we’re Easterseals New Jersey, we’re identifying, we’re presented all these tips with disability in mind.
To Netflix or NOT to Netflix?
“Binge watching” has become a regular part of our American life. It’s only natural that we would partake in this relatively new pastime when we can’t leave the house. When you’re by yourself, this is a perfectly fine activity, but when you’re with your family, it may not be the best thing for everyone. People have conflicting tastes and levels of endurance when it comes to watching (or rewatching) a show back to back to back. Also, sitting in front of the TV might be a missed opportunity for more family bonding time. So before you rush to take over the TV, sit with the family and plan out your day. What will you watch? When will you watch it? What are you doing in-between? Is what you’re watching acceptable for all audiences? If you gather everyone’s input beforehand, you can all agree on compromises that everyone can live with. The forward planning can also help avoid any unexpected clashes later on in the day. This also allows you to choose shows/films that are sensory friendly before setting off unexpected behaviors as a result of your Netflix choices.
Quit Playing Games with My Heart
Games are great. Games are fun. But many games are competitive and can ware on our nerves after a while. If you’ve ever played an extended game of Monopoly, you’ll know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Not all games are created equal though and some encourage cooperative play rather than competitive. Competitive games are great, but when you’re stuck under the same roof together, cooperative games can have a better long-term effect on family moral. Here are a few we found for younger ages:
And for more advanced gamers:
These are just a few, so do a search yourself if these don’t work for your family. It’s crucial that EVERYONE is able to participate in some way. If the game cannot be adapted to include a person with a disability, then you should find a different game.
Avoid The Video Game Black Hole
Fortnite may be a lot of fun, but it can also be a huge time suck for your loved ones. The same thing goes for puzzle games on tablets and phones. Many video games are like this and once you get going in one, it can be incredible hard to stop. Just try to pull a child away from their Playstation and you’ll learn a new definition for the word “tantrum.” We’re not saying video games shouldn’t be played at all, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do all day. It’s best to stop it before it starts. Once the game begins, it’s hard to get someone off it. When planning the day’s activities, put video games towards the end of the day to keep it from sucking you in.
In a bad blizzard stores close, roads are dangerous, and supplies are scarce. Be sure to watch the weather reports and stock up early if bad weather is on its way. A great checklist to prepare for disability and the winter weather is as follows:
Food (including non-perishables)
Diapers (if appropriate)
Toilet Paper/Paper towels
Heating oil/firewood/etc. (if needed)
Coordinate your care: any support staff you work with for your loved one, be sure they know your plans and you know theirs.
With these, you should be able to wait out the worst of the storm.
We hope you these tips are helpful and if you’d like to learn more about Easterseals New Jersey and its services, please visit eastersealsnj.org to see how we’re supporting people with disabilities and special needs throughout New Jersey.