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Warm up to winter play by dressing, prepping for the part

Getting outside in the winter starts with preparation, ends with fun.

Sitting on a couch with a book sounds cozy. Playing board games with visitors sounds fun. Sipping hot cocoa and watching movies at home sounds relaxing.

Going outside on a wintery day to shovel snow, walk the dogs, or play in the park may sound in comparison like work – especially to kids – but once they push through the first few minutes, the first hump of snow, the first barrage of snowballs, the joy of movement and natural light (or dark) takes hold.

Part of the motivation puzzle involves preparation. Kids need the right gear for the weather, a place to put it, and a plan for putting it on. Every list of tips to stay safe outdoors talks about wearing thinner layers against the skin, heavier layers over the top; the trick is to remove layers when heating up and sweating, adding them when slowing down and chilling. The idea is to keep the body relatively dry while insulating for heat.  
With that in mind, here are some quick notes for getting families up, out and safely into Play Every Day:
  • Drink plenty of fluids all day. Hydration helps keep body temperature regulated.
  • Wear the right clothes for the weather.
  • Wear or carry a hat or neck gaiter. Covering and uncovering the head and neck can help regulate body temperature and protect against hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Wear or carry gloves or mittens, and wool or synthetic socks. Again, this critical gear can protect against hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Wear reflective clothing or gear, and carry a headlamp or flashlight.
  • Carry a waist or back pack to hold everything when not wearing or using it.
  • Play in the yard, in the woods, on the trails, but stay clear of snow berms.
  • Head into the wind on the way out so it’s at your back on the return. 
  • And before heading out the door, try warming up to stay warm:
    o Put clothes in a dryer before putting them on.
    o Do jumping jacks or other warm-ups right before going out.
    o Use hand and/or feet warmers.
    o Cover your face.
    o Double up on gloves.
Kids of all ages forget how much they love playing outdoors in the snow, wind, and cold, but it only takes a few minutes to warm up to the joy of building forts, climbing sledding hills, gliding on skis, and catching snowflakes while catching a misty breath.