This post is by regular contributor, Kate Fairlie of Picklebums.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” – Sir Rannulph Fiennes
That may be true but I don’t like the cold, and the idea of going outside to play when it’s cold makes me cringe and edge just a little closer to the fire.
I know it is important for children to be outside every day if possible, even if I don’t want to go out. It’s important that children get a chance to run, jump and really move and develop those large muscles. As well as working off extra energy and learning from the natural environment, being outside gives children a chance to take risks and be loud and wild in ways that are often restricted when inside. Getting outside may also save your sanity as a parent… if you can just bring yourself to venture out!
Here are some ideas to motivate yourself to get out there when it’s cold.
It’s important for both you and the children to dress for the conditions.
Having warm, dry feet is a must, so thick socks and gumboots are important. Fingerless gloves are a great way to keep hands warm and also allow little fingers to manipulate things without frustration. A warm, waterproof coat or a snow suit if it is snowy where you live. Waterproof over pants are a must for crawlers or early walkers so they stay warm and dry. And lastly, a comfortable hat, because it really is true that you lose lots of heat from your head.
While dressing warmly is important, I also try accept that my children may feel cold differently to me and allow them to dress for their own comfort, within reason. I am okay with my child not wanting to wear their coat, but I draw the line at bare feet when it is really cold at our house!
Utilise Indoor/Outdoor Spaces
If you are lucky enough to have a veranda, covered deck or roofed sandpit, set up some outdoor activities in these spaces. You still have the joy of being outside but are protected from the rain. Sensory play activities such as (warm) water play or sand play are great for these spaces as the mess is much easier to deal with!
Even a cubby house can make a fun place to play outside in the rain. Everyone can squash in together and play!
Do Something Active to Stay Warm
Ride a bike, skip with a skipping rope, jump on the trampoline or play running games. I don’t just mean the kids either. If you get involved with something active not only will it be good exercise but it will also help you stay warm!
Try simple games like hopscotch, follow the leader, or throwing a Frisbee. How about flying a kite on a windy day. Smaller children will run around for hours chasing bubbles and older children will enjoy a treasure hunt.
Be Amazed by the Outside World
We are all used to being outside when the weather is warm, but it is amazing to notice how things change with the seasons.
Spend some time with your children looking for signs of the season – autumn leaves, rain drops on spider webs, frost on the grass.
Enjoy playing in puddles, make some boats to float in them. Collect hails stones and look at them under a microscope. Sing rainy day songs as you walk in the rain. Listen to the sound of the wind or the rain, what other sounds can you hear?
Get into the garden. Talk about which trees loose their leaves in Autumn and which don’t. Look for plants that grow in winter and talk about those that ‘rest’ till spring. Maybe even plant some winter vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or broad beans.
Go on a Winter Excursion
Sometimes going somewhere new can be the best way to motivate yourself to get going when it is cold. Pack your warm clothes, and a change of clothes in case you get wet and cold, and head off.
Visiting the beach in winter is fabulous. It’s almost always deserted and there are so many things to do and see when you are not so busy swimming and putting on sun screen.
Go for a hike or a nature walk. Visit a park. The zoo is a great place to visit in the winter, less people and most zoos have lots of indoor places to shelter if it is a little rainy.
Don’t Stay Out Too Long
On very cold or wet days you probably won’t want to be outside for very long. Look for signs that the kids are getting too cold, most kids will get whiney and cranky when they start to get very cold, and even though they may say that don’t want to go in, it is probably time.
Now there is no excuse not to get outside this winter. You may come in with frozen finger tips and a red nose but I guarentee that making an effort to get outside with your kids, even when it’s cold, will make you and your kids feel fabulous!
What is your favourite cold weather outside activity?