It’s starting. The cold weather has arrived. It may try and fool us by disappearing for a day or two with warmer temperatures and sunny skies, but we’ve had our first taste and we know what lies in store.
In some ways I don’t mind. There’s definitely something very refreshing about being out on a cold day. Summer’s great – short sleeves, sandals, basking in the sun. But it’s a totally different, more exhilarating and rewarding feeling when you’re out in the cold, the wind nipping at your cheeks. When you come indoors after being out on a winter’s day, feeling the welcoming warmth, blowing your nose (nothing like a cold day to keep those sinuses clear) and diving into your fuzzy slippers, you will feel both energized and relaxed at the same time.
As parents we need to prepare ourselves and our families for the even colder, frigid temperatures ahead – by sensitizing our bodies to the lower temperatures now. How? By digging out the hats and mittens, jackets and snow pants and wearing them if the weather is cold.
Snow pants for children are not just for a sledding day but everyday apparel for a Wisconsin winter. If our children’s association with winter (and ours) is rushing to the car, wearing no hat or a loose hood – half on , no mittens, coat unzipped, they (and we) will feel uncomfortable, cranky, uncooperative, complaining and definitely not wanting to be outside.
It can sometimes seem unnecessary, this whole process of dressing warmly, when so many of us have heated garages that allow us to sneak into our preheated cars, wearing just a lightweight, unzipped jacket. This, however, is where we need to become intentional.
Parents have told me “it’s not worth the struggle to get him all dressed warmly. He fights it so.” And until it becomes part of the routine and the expectation, it will continue to be a battle. This is when we remember that boots can call out to a child to “Put me on”. Songs can be sung, (Thumb in the thumb place, fingers all together; this is the song we sing in mitten weather), commentary on what’s coming next, shared.
Dressing warmly can become a habit and one that reaps benefits. How? If we are not shivering and uncomfortable outside, we will all be willing to linger outdoors – feed the birds, make an adventure of getting the mail, throw a few snowballs, shovel the walk, dig in the snow (digging toys used in the sandbox will delight children in the snow), pull a sled, build a snowman, make snow angels, walk around the block, climb a snow bank, watch the snowplow plow.
Being outside is an essential ingredient of every child’s life. It will put color in your child’s cheeks as well as your own. (It’s a myth that children will catch a cold from being out in the cold.). It will increase positive behavior, make everyone sleep better, gain a dose of necessary vitamin D (we do have quite a few cold, sunny days in winter), add balance to our day, increase appetites for healthy foods and help us all to find recreation, fun, anticipation and enjoyment in winter in Wisconsin.