How to survive- and enjoy- winter with your preschooler!
Baby- it’s cold outside! But outside is where we should be- for at least an hour or two each day. We need to get that brisk fresh air in our lungs and get some Vitamin D from the sun. And so do our children. But how do we make it happen?
As parents, we too often say ‘Oh it’s so much work to get the kids dressed for outdoors.’ As preschool teachers- we would say “Try dressing 10- 2 year olds- twice a day!!” Yes, it can be a lot of ‘work’ but the benefits are so worth it.
Some people think that going out in cold weather makes you more prone to colds or the flu. This is simply not true. Colds and the flu are caused by viruses- that are more contagious inside in stale, recycled indoor air. It is a fact that time spent outdoors results in better health. Fresh air and physical activity lead to improved brain activity, lower stress levels and better sleep. “Sleep? What’s that?” you say? That’s what you get when your little one gets lots of fresh air and exercise.
So we know we need to get our children outside more in winter. Here are some ways to make it happen.
The first thing is to make sure to dress properly for the weather. No one enjoys being outside if they are too cold- or too hot. Layers are best- wool or fleece for the base layer, a middle layer and a waterproof outer layer. Socks should be long enough (and snug enough) that they will not end up in the toes of the boot! Nobody likes the feeling when your sock keeps slipping, slipping down into your boot! And this is especially true of preschoolers! Styrofoam trays that come from the grocery store or bakery- can add an extra layer of protection by being reused as insoles in their boots! Oh, and those beautiful hand knit mittens that Grammy made? Great for car rides- but not so great for playing in wet snow. Once those mittens get wet- hands get cold- and no one is having fun. For those toddlers who won’t keep their mittens on- here’s a tip: take a pair of long tube socks- cut a hole out for the thumb- and put on over top of the mittens- before the coat. These usually will reach up past the elbow, sometimes to the shoulder- and those mittens will not come off!! A neck warmer or balaclava is perfect for keeping cold off their neck and ears. Make sure your child’s coat is just a tad big- many children don’t hate going outside- they just hate the confined feeling if their snowsuit is too tight. Can’t say we blame them on that one. Would you want to go outside if you felt like you were wearing a straight jacket? Probably not.
If you don’t get your little ones outside- how will they ever experience catching snowflakes on their tongue or making snow angels? What about being the first one to make tracks in fresh snow? Do you remember seeing a snowflake up close? It’s amazing- but you can’t see it from inside on your couch. And how about those big icicles that hang from eaves- trying to get the big one without breaking it. Can’t do that in July. And finding a patch of ice under the snow and sliding across it (on purpose!)- so much fun! And you need to get outside to make these things happen.
“When it snows you have two choices- shovel or make snow angels”
But it’s cold outside!? Yes, it’s cold, but you just need to move to stay warm. Go for a walk, make a snowman or snow fort. Go sliding- children love the exhilaration- and it’s fun as an adult too. (you might feel it later- but only for a little while, lol) Put some food colouring and water in a bottle and colour the snow in your yard. Go on a winter scavenger hunt to look for things (you can even ‘plant’ a few items in advance if you need to) Start these practices now and your child will grow up with healthier habits. There is just nothing like the feeling you get after you have been out in the fresh air in winter- and your children should experience it too. Living where we do, we know we are going to have months of cold snowy weather- and unless you’re a bear- you can’t just hibernate!
Stock up on hot chocolate and marshmallows. Get outside! You will be glad you did. 😊