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Kate Moreland shares tips for helping active children and reluctant mothers enjoy the winter outdoors. 

When the cold of winter sets in it is so easy to hold up inside, sit by the fire with a cup of tea or coffee, and read a book. … Well, it would be if you didn’t have a bunch of high-energy little people going crazy in your living room. Why are they so crazy? Because it’s cold and no one wants to go outside. This is especially true if you live somewhere like I do where it is cold, but typically not snowy. All the cons, very few pros. However, despite this, it is possible to have fun outside and get your children out of the house, where they can be themselves, running, screaming, and enjoying the wide world even in the middle of winter. 




Dress for Success! 

When we think of cold weather, we typically think of coats, hats, mittens, and scarves. But, if you want your children to be happy outside for longer periods of time, you are going to need to think beyond that. Start with the layers underneath those clothes. Long sleeves. Fleece or wool sweatshirts. Good socks, blue jeans, and insulated boots. Regardless of what your kids say, they will be cold outside without these things, and then they will not have any fun, which will make them grumpy, unpleasant, and arriving back in your living room.  

Snow pants, or snow bibs, as they are sometimes called, are one of the biggest keys to success in outdoor winter play. Who cares if there’s no snow! Put on the snow pants, the neck warmer that hat, the boots, the scarfs and then when the wind is blowing and it’s 25°, your kids are warm. They will run around creating body heat, shouting happily to each other, while their little noses and chins turned bright pink. Dress them like little penguins; they actually have quite a fun time outside. And, if like me, you don’t have snow, most of the summer activities are still available. Play in the sand. Ride a bike.  Make a tree fort. Any of these options are perfectly good in the winter, if one is dressed properly.  




Make it Fun! 

We all like to feel that our day has something special in it, and your kids are no different. They do not look at the blowing, gray, bleak outdoors and think it looks like fun more than you do … until you tell them that once they are outside and playing, you will bring them a little thermos of hot chocolate. It’s worth picking up some basic, insulated travel mugs for your children for this purpose. If you make the hot chocolate yourself, it can even be fairly healthy. It doesn’t have to be an unhealthy snack and the warmth and nutrition from the milk will give them energy to sustain them outside. Throw some marshmallows on top, and you have a treat that’s worth venturing outside. A warm belly heats up those layers of clothes delightfully on a cold day. 




Follow Your Own Advice! 

This one is tough for those of us who care a smidge about how we look. However, the best way to stay warm outside is to take the same advice you give your children and follow it. Buy the parka—not the fashion one but the actual parka that is rated for very cold temperatures—and wear it. Buy some snow pants, some wool sweaters, and some good socks. Layer yourself up like your children, fill your mug with coffee, and maybe add a splash of creamer as a little treat to encourage yourself to make the journey out the door. 

If your kids are happy playing independently, but just need you somewhere nearby, pop a Bluetooth earbud in one ear before you go out. Put your hood on and your hat so the earbud is not visible and you can be present to your children while still listening to something to pass the time. It keeps the phone out of sight, but gives you something more interesting to think about then whose dump truck is filled with sand, or which princess got the bright red leaf crown first.  


Click to tweet:
It is possible to have fun outside and get your children out of the house, where they can enjoy the wide world even in the middle of winter.  #CatholicMom

See the happy faces on the boys in the pictures? It was about 34° outside when I took those, and the wind chill made it even colder. And yet, they were outside, jumping in that leaf pile for at least 30 minutes, before going off to build war machines with old sticks. The right preparation makes all the difference, even for those of us who—unlike my oldest—do not dream of moving to Nome, Alaska someday! 


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Copyright 2023 Kate Moreland
Images: copyright 2023 Kate Moreland, all rights reserved.