Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for it to snow so you could head out for a snowball fight or to make a snowman or at least have a good reason to drink some hot cocoa? Maybe you still look forward to snow days. But, take a look around at the yards in any given neighborhood when there is snow on the ground. Too many of them are pristine, with only the foot prints of squirrels and wildlife dotting the snow. Where are the foot prints of children? Why is there not a snowman on every street?
You may have heard that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. I’ll be honest with you; I believe that about 92% of the time. If it’s 35 degrees and raining and windy, it’s a day for sorting socks or watching a movie in my book. But, on crisp snowy days when the temperature is between 20 and 33 degrees, some smart dressing can make it the best day of the year to enjoy the outdoors. Today I want to give you some pointers for dressing your children (or yourself) for some outdoor winter fun.
When you are getting ready to head outside in the winter there are two things to remember: dry=warm, and layers, layers, layers!
Start with socks that will keep your feet warm. Wool or a wool blend is going to do the best job. Next in line is probably man made fabrics such as fleece. What about your favorite cotton socks? Sorry, leave them in the drawer today. Cotton is a poor choice for winter layers that will touch your skin or the outside. Wool socks today are much less scratchy than the ones of years ago and many of them can be washed in your washing machine. Who knows, maybe you’re even a bit like me and enjoy scratchy socks.
You’ll need boots that will keep your feet warm and dry. I have a pair of boots made for winter that have a steel shank the bottom meant to protect your feet. It sucks the heat of out of my feet and leaves them cold all day. I’m retiring them! Also, be careful of hook-and-loop closures (formerly known as Velcro). Sometimes it doesn’t stay closed if it gets snowy. Silly that some snow boots, especially children’s, would close with something that doesn’t work in the snow.
Moving up to a base layer, a.k.a long underware layer. Choose a fabric other than cotton. Man made fabric, a wicking fabric or even silk make for a great base layer to keep you warm and dry where it matters most: next to your skin.
The mid layer is probably made of your clothes. If you must wear cotton, this is the place to do it, if you wear a layer above and below. I even have a hard time not choosing a pair of jeans to wear as I’m headed out for a day on the sledding hill.
For your outer layer, choose a coat and pants that will keep out the wind and wet out and while keeping the warmth in. For most children, snow pants, especially those that have a bib or are attached to the coat are a great choice. I often wear rain pants as this layer; they are like snow pants but without insulation.
Gloves are one of the most important parts of dressing property for outdoor play. And, probably the place where I see most children lack the needed weather protection. Gloves or mittens should be insulated and water resistant. You know those little stretchy cotton gloves that you can buy at the dollar store? Please don’t use those for outdoor play in the winter. They get wet and make little hands much colder than if there were no gloves at all. Look for gloves that will tuck into the coat sleeve to keep out snow and moisture. They should feel warm on the inside and be kind of tough and water proof on the outside.
And just like so many grandmothers used to say: don’t forget a hat! Keeping the head and ears warm is an important step in being comfortable.
I hope that this will help give you the confidence to dress yourself and your children to head out and have enjoy some playtime outside this time of year. I hope that your yard and the places your children play outdoors will be littered with boot prints and snow angels and snowmen. The trails of Cleveland Metroparks are waiting for you too!