Winter is here! We play in the northern Michigan woods, where the temps can range from "brrrrr" to "my face fell off" and snowfall can vary between a dusting (where's all the snow?) to several feet of hard-packed drifts (can you believe all this snow?).
But- that doesn't stop Wilderplayers from spending as much time outdoors as possible! In groups of young children, some of the greatest challenges center around having the right gear and changing in and out of that gear multiple times a day.
Never fear! At Wilderplay we've got the drill down pat. Below are five of the absolutely best expert tips for maintaining outdoor play time during winter weather:
TOP FIVE TIPS FOR WINTER WEATHER PLAY
1. For your infant or young toddler, invest in a quality jogging stroller to provide them with a snuggly spot to escape to while you are out on the winter landscape. Choose one with large spoke wheels and let just a little bit of air out of the tires so the wheels will float across snow a little easier! PRO TIP: When the snow or slush gets deep, pull it behind you, don't push. Shop around for an all-weather stroller cover that will fit your jogger and you've got a warm & dry bubble for your babe. For infants, bundle them in a durable bunting that covers their hands and feet. Don't forget to let the littlest get down in the snow and explore, too!
2. Layer up. Base layers should be made of a wicking material like wool and should not be skin tight but fit about the same as pajamas do. Add a middle layer when needed- a fleece or sweatshirt and some sweatpants for really low temps. Mittens need no bells or whistles, but do need to be waterproof and warm. We only recommend Dexshell wool mittens! PRO TIP: Sew your mittens to your middle layer sleeves so they never ever fall off out in the snow! Hats should have great coverage (consider a balaclava) and a low profile to fit under a hood (no poms). Socks should be wool or a similar synthetic. Waterproof footwear and outerwear complete the ensemble!
3. Pick gear that fosters independence and simplifies dressing/undressing. Cold-temp rated waterproof boots with rigid uppers are best so littles can step right in. A one-piece waterproof snowsuit is a must and is both warmer and cuts the number of outerwear pieces in half- especially important if you have a large family or group setting! PRO TIP: Pick boots and suits that have few velcro closures- there's nothing more frustrating to someone with mittened hands then velcro!
4. Pick gear that fits. Yes, this is an investment. But compared to the amount of money you might spend on electronic devices and media while stuck inside- this is a bargain! When gear is too big or too small, it does not perform correctly to keep a little one warm. PRO TIP: Shop for used gear and gear that has a grow-with-me function. Many outerwear brands have removable cuff seams that will let down to give your growing kids a couple more inches of wear!
5. Get organized. Plan storage for your gear where it can be easy to access on the way out and then drip-dry once you come in. Create a dressing and undressing routine that keeps the peace. Sing a song or rhyme that teaches your routine. PRO TIP: Grow with the flow! Foster more and more independence over time by always giving littles the chance to do things for themselves. If part of your routine stops working, seek out new ideas and be flexible.
See you out there! LL
When not working with children and their caregivers, "Lady" Lisa and her family enjoy exploring the woods, lakes, and beaches that surround their northern Michigan home. She holds a masters degree in early childhood studies, a graduate certificate in teaching adults in the early childhood field, and accreditation in wilderness safety and the forest school ethos.