Winter weather is here, and while it can be a beautiful time of year, it’s also tough for parents who are stuck inside with their kids on a snow day. We definitely sympathize — kids stuck inside the house can be unholy terrors, and taking them outside in the cold can be just as bad.
Here are a few tips and tricks we’ve collected through the years to make weathering the winter months with your kids a little more bearable.
Keep Them Warm
Kids don’t seem to recognize cold — they can run around in freezing weather in shorts and a t-shirt and not even seem to notice the frigid temperatures. That doesn’t mean they should, though — the cold can be dangerous. If your kids are enjoying the cold weather, make sure they’re warm enough.
First, layer up their clothes. Multiple layers of thin clothes are easier to handle than heavy, thick layers — if your child gets too warm during their outdoor activities, you can remove one layer at a time while still protecting their skin from the cold weather.
Make sure they know to come indoors if they get wet — wet clothes don’t hold heat, and in extreme temperatures, they can raise the threat of hypothermia and frostbite.
Also, make sure you’re aware of the signs of both hypothermia and frostbite and keep an eye out for them in your children as they’re enjoying the outdoors. Bring them in periodically to warm them up! There’s no reason to keep them indoors during the cold weather, as long as you’re aware of the effects of the cold.
Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
Just because you’re not putting on a swimsuit doesn’t mean you don’t need to lather on the sunscreen. Approximately 90% of the sunlight coming down reflects back up from snow and ice, so if you’re having a snowball fight, you’re essentially getting nearly twice the amount of solar radiation while you’re playing in the snow.
Just like during the summer, you need to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you go out into the sun and reapply multiple times during the day. You don’t need to put sunscreen on covered skin but make sure your face, ears, scalp and neck are protected from the sunlight.
Get Them Involved
It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise during the cold winter months, especially if you don’t have a gym membership where you can work out in a heated environment. A good way to keep your motivation is to get your kids involved with your workout — even if all your doing for exercise is shoveling the walk. Get your kids some kid-sized snow shovels and let them help out!
Even during the cold months, you want to try to aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Get the kids involved — run around the block with them, get involved in their snowball fights or plan relay races in the backyard. The important thing is to stay active.
With a few inches of snow on the ground, you might not think about the importance of water, but with snow and cold weather comes dryer air, and it’s actually fairly easy to get dehydrated — especially if you’re active outside in cold weather like children often are.
Take water out with you whenever you go outside and encourage your kids to drink as much as they like. If they’re not getting thirsty when they’re playing outside, take frequent breaks to go inside, warm up and hydrate.
Just like you need to be aware of the problems of frostbite and hypothermia in the cold, you also need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration.
Change Your Batteries in Your Smoke Detectors
We often go to great lengths to keep our houses warm during the winter months, which often puts us at higher risk for house fires. Before the weather starts getting cold, make it a point to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Even if you don’t have a problem, having those batteries fresh can help to save your life and the lives of your family.
Organize Indoor Activities, Too
Winter weather is great, but we know there’s only so much fun in the snow we can take. Planning some indoor activities can be a great way to stay warm while preserving your sanity. A few ideas might include:
- Indoor ‘laser’ maze — let your kids train to be secret agents by setting up a laser maze made of yarn taped to walls, tied to doors and otherwise strung across walkways and hallways to create a maze.
- Arts and crafts — pull together some projects your kids can work on both on their own and with you. It can be a great way to keep them entertained, as long as long as you can keep the mess to a minimum.
- A cocoa bar — Make hot cocoa and set up a ‘bar’ of things that your kids can add to it, like marshmallows, chocolate chips and other tasty foods.
You’re only limited by your imagination, and the size of the mess you’re willing to clean up afterward. Other good ideas might include setting up a pillow fort and playing winter-themed movies — or beach movies if you really need some sunlight in your life.
Winter months can be crazy, especially with kids in tow. Hopefully, these tips can help you weather the winter months with your sanity intact, especially when you’ve got kids who enjoy playing out in the cold.