Rain, hail or shine
As the temperature drops, it’s understandable that our enthusiasm for getting outside can dwindle. Looking out the window to see blue skies and sunshine have been replaced by grey clouds and rain might make you want to curl up on the couch with a hot drink (and sometimes that’s just what we need!!). But spending time outside is fun and has so many benefits regardless of the weather, so it's important that we don’t make a habit of avoiding the cold altogether.
Below are a few simple tips I've put together to help you and your little ones enjoy spending time outside over the colder months. If you’d like to know more about why getting outside in winter is important - check out a previous blog post here.
5 tips for getting outside in the cold of winter, and enjoying it!
1. Keep warm. This one may seem obvious, but it can be easily missed! Especially in Victoria, where it’s common to have all four seasons in one day, it’s easy to get caught out in inappropriate clothing. So focus on layering up, wear warm, waterproof jackets and choose footwear that is puddle proof and suitable for slippery surfaces. All-in-one waterproof suits are a great item to have, especially for little ones who are still getting around on all fours.
*Bonus tip. Warm, weatherproof clothing and footwear can be expensive. Especially if you want it to last! So before you hit the shops, check out Op Shops, Gumtree or your local ‘Buy, Swap, Sell’ page on Facebook - chances are you’ll find many good quality, pre-loved items without spending a fortune. Your local camping store should have some budget friendly options as well. Buying items like rain jackets and coats a little bigger than you usually would is a great way to ensure they’ll last a couple of seasons - sleeves can always be rolled up!
2. Be prepared. When talking about getting out in nature I usually encourage the simple, uncomplicated approach - just go with the flow, you don’t need a bunch of stuff! However, I find that in winter it does pay to be somewhat prepared. I like to keep a towel or two at the door to wipe muddy hands and feet before they come inside, and a bag of items in the car or pram for impromptu puddle jumping, mud pie making and rain dancing. Some items you may like to keep on hand are:
- A spare rain jacket and pair of gumboots
- A change of clothes (or several!!)
- Old towels (handy for drying wet play equipment and park benches, as well as hands and feet)
- Tissues or wipes (for those cold, runny little noses)
3. Keep moving. Run, jump, climb, skip, dance! Increased movement means increased blood flow which is our body’s way of keeping us warm. So, the more you move your body - the less you’ll feel the cold.
4. Try something new. With an abundance of puddles to splash in, mud to squelch and snails to spot - winter weather is full of exciting adventures! However, you may find that during colder months there are some days where you or your child need a bit of extra motivation to get outside. Try something a little out of the box to keep things interesting. Here are just a few ideas to get your imagination flowing:
- Give your child a camera to take some photos outside
- Set up an obstacle course in your backyard using rocks, ropes, buckets, boxes, logs and anything else you have handy!
- Take a magnifying glass and see what hidden treasures you can find among the wet leaves
- Bubbles! Blow bubbles for your little one to chase, or pop some suds in a puddle and let the soapy, muddy fun begin!
5. Know your limits. When it comes to being outside in the cold, wet and windy weather, using your own judgement is beneficial. Some children love nothing more than dancing in the rain and feeling the cold mud and grass run through their little fingers. Others are more cautious and sensitive to the wind and rain, and it’s important to be respectful of that! Ten minutes of FUN outside time is going to be far more pleasant and beneficial than a 2 hour hike where you or your child are not enjoying yourselves. You can always build up to spending longer periods outside, but starting small is better than not starting at all!
So there you have it! I do hope that some of these tips are helpful, and inspire you to explore the wonderful things that nature has to offer over the colder months. And remember, once you're ready to head back inside, a warm bath, soup or hot drink (or all three!!) will help you thaw out in no time.
In closing I would like to encourage you to be mindful of your words this winter. Most of us describe summer, and even spring and autumn as "beautiful, lovely, inviting, perfect!"... then winter rolls around and without thinking too much, we can be tempted to use very contrasting words when talking about the weather. I have certainly been guilty of this myself at times. However, children are very literal. Words absolutely do matter, and we are our children's first teachers, so if they learn from us that outside time is only fun in the warm sunshine, how will they feel about getting out and about in winter? Probably not very excited! So, lead by example, layer up, and get out there - the beautiful, inviting, perfect rain is waiting!