Truth be told, this time of year (especially in cold climates) it is often difficult to get children outside to play. It’s cold and windy, snowy and wet. And as in the case of one of my boys (Owen), he dislikes the heaviness of his snow-boots and the thick, restricting feel of his snow-pants.
Still, you’ll find with just twenty-minutes of outdoor play in crisp air, your child will sleep better at night. Being outside will ground them and calm them. And once outside, they will find something to do!
WINTER DRESS CODE: Appropriate winter attire is essential. It’s simple, really. If your kids get cold, they will want to come back inside. If they are inside, they
will drive you crazy aren’t getting the fresh air and outdoor exercise which are essential for their emotional and physical growth. When I send my boys out to play, they wear 3 layers on their body: cotton pajamas or long underwear, regular clothes (jeans, long sleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt), and then their snow-pants and winter coat. On their feet is a single pair of thick socks and warm, winter boots. On their head is a warm, fleece lined hat and on their hands they wear gloves/mittens or sock hands. One does not need to spend a lot of money on winter outer-wear for kids; I found everything I needed – including high quality Baffin Boots – from consignment shops!
Do gloves and mittens constantly fall off of your child? Have you given up on sending your child outside because keeping his hands warm is always an issue? No joke, sock hands are the solution to your problem.
- With your child’s coat off, place one of your child’s warmest socks over each of their hands.
- Slip a plastic bag over the socks on your child’s hands.
- Now, slide an adult sized wool sock over the plastic bag (it’s best if the sock fits up to their elbow snugly).
- Help your child into their coat and poke their hands out through the arm-holes.
REVIEW ANY CHANGES TO OUTDOOR PLAY SAFETY RULES: Do you live near water? It is imperative that your child clearly understands their rules about playing near the ice. Are their many icicles hanging from your roof? Either knock them down in advance or instruct your child to stay away from them. Are your children going sledding? Teach them to always sled “feet first” and how to properly “bail” a sled before a collision.
Sledding: Basic sleds have been our best winter purchase this year. The boys use them daily for sledding and towing.
Ice Experiments: We enjoy walking down to the frozen lake to throw rocks and sticks at it. Colin and Owen like the “thwank thwank” sound objects make as they bump and slide along the ice. They also enjoy using sticks to break up ice close to them while watching the air bubbles float under the surface, and then trying to pull in the chunks of ice to play with or throw. We observed how heavy rocks dented and cracked the ice, while smaller ones smoothly slid to the middle of the lake.
Building Snow Forts: In the picture below, Colin and Owen are rolling snowballs to create a wall for their snow fortress. It’s also fun to dig out holes and tunnels in huge mounds of shoveled or plowed snow.
Work Projects: Colin and Owen love to help shovel, spread salt, and bring in firewood. These “grown-up” jobs increase self-esteem and teach about how families function as teams; everyone can contribute – no matter how small!
As Colin and Owen have already figured out, the best part about playing outside is coming back inside with refreshed, rosy cheeks for a mug of steaming, hot chocolate! How does your family like to play outside in winter?
Who’s Been Here?: A Tale in Tracks by Fran Hodgkins
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen