Spending time in nature is a great way to strengthen family bonds, but when the temperature drops, it's much harder to get outside with the kiddos. By the time you get everyone layered in snowsuits, boots, hats and gloves, half your energy is gone. There are some ways to make it easier to get outside with your kids in the winter -- and they are worth the extra effort cold weather activities require.
1. Keep it Simple
You don't have to travel far to spend family time outside. Go old-school and build snowmen in your backyard. Make snow angels. Blow bubbles (they will freeze if it's cold enough). Build forts and have a snowball fight. You'll relieve cabin fever and teach your kids teamwork skills through these simple, fun activities.
2. Try Something New
Use the added incentive of trying something new to get your kids invested in venturing out into the cold weather. Most local outdoor gear companies offer intro classes to all sorts of winter activities. You can try everything from cross-country skiing and winter hiking to ice-fishing and ice-climbing.
3. Make it Fun
Go sledding at a local hill and race each other to the bottom. Create an obstacle course in your backyard and see who can complete it in the fastest time. Hold a winter scavenger hunt in your local park. It's much easier to get the kids outdoors when you find creative ways to make being outside with your kids in the winter fun. Last year, when mother nature dropped nine feet of snow on us, our neighbors sculpted an outdoor snow patio. Complete with fake grass and food-colored walls, everyone was able to sit by the fire pit, sip hot cocoa, chat and dream about warmer weather.
4. Explore Your Neighborhood
Take a walk through the neighborhood together. This is another way to keep it simple while venturing beyond your backyard. You can try new routes each time, looking for things you hadn't noticed before. Walking together is a great way to combine physical activity with family time, and studies show that kids are more likely to open up if they are engaged in another activity while talking.
5. Go Snowshoeing
There are tons of winter sports -- skiing, snowboarding, skating -- but very few that can be done as a family. You can head to the ski resort for a weekend and barely see each other as everyone zooms down the slopes. Yet with snowshoeing, the entire family can hike together and experience the beauty and stillness that comes with winter in the woods. If you've never been before, many outdoor gear companies and ski resorts rent the equipment.
Stay Warm and Dry
It's important to make sure that everyone in the family is appropriately dressed before heading out into the cold weather. These layering tips will help keep everyone comfortable:
- Bottom Layer -- Wear something synthetic and wicking (like polyester) as your first layer, which will help pull moisture away from your body.
- Middle Layer -- A fleece top and bottom will keep you warm.
- Outer Layer -- Choose a wind and waterproof jacket and pants to protect you from the elements.
- Make sure to wear a hat and gloves. Neck warmers are also great for keeping everyone warm.
- Socks should be synthetic or wool. Cotton socks will not keep your feet warm if they get wet.
- Boots should be warm and waterproof.
- Don't forget sunglasses and sunscreen! You can still get sunburned on a winter day.
Promising warm cookies and hot chocolate when you get back inside is a great way to motivate reluctant kids. (And adults!) When you get outside with your kids in the winter, you build their resilience, create family bonds and make great memories.