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Kate Moreland considers how a simple wardrobe change increased and improved her family’s time outside during the winter.

Once again, I have to thank my husband for saving the day. I was bemoaning my lack of inspiration for this article when he chimed in and said he knew exactly what my topic should be. “Neon winter coats for little kids; it makes winter parenting so much easier!” And, as silly as that sounds, he is absolutely right.   

At one point in my journey of parenting many small children at once—we have done nearly all the usual “x under x” combinations possible with five children—I thought that camouflage coats would look so cute on my jeans-and-western-boot-clad little boys. Experienced moms are laughing at me now, as I spent two winters losing my toddlers against the background of the yard, playgrounds, and other various places before I finally retired the camo coat. Lesson learned. The cats now enjoy its coziness in their house on the porch. 




Now, I have sworn off all outerwear except bright colors for little kids who need my visual attention at regular intervals and it is so refreshing! Even when my toddlers are at one of our regular playgroups where kids can range over several acres of space and activities, I can sit on my bench with my tea and spot my children no matter where they are. Not only does this keep me ensconced on my wind-broken bench instead of traipsing all over following them, but it also allows for considerably more uninterrupted chatting with the other moms. I can check on my children and spot them easily from wherever I am because all it requires is a quick count of the neon coats.

Those families who live in places that stay white half the year perhaps do not have this particular problem as nearly every color shows up well against snow (except our notorious camo coat that somehow managed to blend in even there). However, we live in an area that gets cold but rarely snowy, so even in winter there are a variety of colors and visual textures which can hide sneaky small children. 

Keeping my kids easily in view has benefits beyond simply allowing me to stay in my comfortable spot during outdoor winter play. It gives even my youngest children the freedom to roam, explore, and feel, if not actually be, independent. I do not trust my toddlers when they are out of sight because they are toddlers and incapable of the mental acuity needed for that level of freedom. However, I want them to believe that I fully trust that they can and will follow the rules I’ve laid out, regardless of whether or not they can see me. They need to know I believe in them, and they need the chance to practice being responsible in an environment where nothing terrible will happen if they fail.   




Playing far away from Mom but still in eyesight is a simulator-style practice for when they are old enough to go to the big-kid playground without good lines of sight, or play on a sports team that requires some independent responsibility, or even just not destroy the room while I take a shower. It is fun for them and low-hassle for me as the parent.   

In today’s helicopter parenting world, where we fear to let children out of our sight and similarly find ourselves and our children unprepared for the responsibilities that come with getting bigger, adventures like these are a wonderful antidote. Find a place that is mostly safe and full of potential creativity like the outdoors, and let the kids roam. Bright-colored coats or shirts help make this less nerve-wracking, and it is impressive how far a spot of color can be seen, especially when it moves constantly.   


Click to tweet:
The outdoors is God’s playground, and children in particular were meant to enjoy it. #CatholicMom


As winter marches closer and the leaves fall in earnest, I know that despite my dislike of the chill, I and my children will be outside for many cold hours over the next six months. Knowing that I can find them easily at playgroups and parks, and keep track of them from my kitchen window so they have the freedom to play outside even while I cook makes my heart happy.

The outdoors is God’s playground, and children in particular were meant to enjoy it. As silly as it is, the simple change of foregoing my preference of more muted colors in favor of overly bright hues for my children’s outerwear has made for more enjoyable time spent outside for our family; maybe it will for you, too.   



Copyright 2023 Kate Moreland
Images: Canva