If you have read any of my blogs you know that we as a family hike a lot (Hiking with Kids). No matter what the season we usually pack a lunch to eat so that way we are no rush to leave. When you have hungry kids you have a tendency to rush everything. Our solution has always been to pack a lunch for the day. That way when we spend our day in nature its not a rushed event.
We took another winter hike the other day. It was a day before another snow storm so there wasn’t fresh snow but still snow everywhere. It’s calming in the winter because not a lot of people are out when it’s a certain temperature and as I like to say a lot, the forest is even taking her winter slumber. The few animals and birds you do see are nothing compared to when spring has arrived. Where we hike there is a man made waiting pool they had built to help gather run off from the mountain and give wildlife a small habitat. It was frozen with small ice crystals creating a swirling design. In the spring you will see hundred of frog eggs and newts swimming. The flowers and lilies will be coming back up to greet the sun. For now though they are hidden beneath snow and ice. The winter nights are long and the days are short but now since the winter solstice you can slowly see the daylight returning.
The forest where we hiked had a stillness to it. It’s a interesting feeling you get when you are secluded and since there is no one for miles it can make the stillness even more exaggerated. We tracked on though. The kids you could tell had needed a good walk and at some points were running on the flatter parts. Getting everyone some much needed outdoor time.There is nothing quiet like the fresh crisp winter air to help clear the mind and relax the soul.
Where we live it is colder more of the year than warm. We try to spend as much time outdoors with our children. That is hard to do though when someone is cold or gets wet etc. I have some tips and tricks to help get your kids outside to enjoy the weather year round.
- Don’t make a fuss about the whole thing. If you fret about every little detail you will most likely just irritate your child than help them. Children are more resilient than their parents. Growing up it would be freezing outside but you would have to bribe me to get inside since I wasn’t coming in willingly.
- Dress to be prepared. What I mean is you can always take off layers, but you can’t put on more layers than you have. We are a family of winter lovers. We do a lot of recreational sports outside. Growing up I use to run a small team of sled dogs. I also use to cross country ski and do skijoring. My kids if they could would live in the snow. My sons one dream is to stay in an ice hotel at some point. We dress for the weather. We put a lot of layers on, we start with thermal layers under our jeans and sweaters. Than we put on our current outfit which usually has a polar fleece zip up. Then its snow pants ( wind and water proof) and winter jacket ( also wind and water proof). Then its the layers of fleece for our necks, hats and two pairs of mittens or gloves. First layer is always a knit and the top is water proof snow gloves. If we get over heated from running etc than we take off a layer.
- Next is my distraction technique. Sometimes with toddlers after what feels like 100 years getting ready to go outside they are instantly board and want to go back in. This is when I use my distraction technique. All it is , is you try to stimulate the imagination by showing them a cool thing. For my daughter we usually show her little cut outs in the tree and tell her I wonder if fairies live in there. Then she goes on these missions to find more cool trees and hidings.
- Compromise….in the end what you are trying to accomplish is fresh air and a change of scenery. Sometimes the day is just a bust but I always look at it that they got X amount of time outdoors. Sometimes we spend almost all day on adventures and sometimes they are done after 30 minutes. The fact is I feel getting children outside and into nature is more of an accomplishment than a defeat, even when the day doesn’t go as planned. Now that my youngest is 4 yes he tires before the other two but he still tries to keep up with them. I can see his little mind at work while he figures out how to climb that tree or get over that rock. That is something that he learns on his own with very little assistance. I know when I had two under two our days spent outdoors were limited. The thing is though we still went out and gave it a try.
Whatever adventure your family goes on make it a fun experience so that next time everyone is just as excited as you are.