If you live in a place that gets cold, it can sometimes be a challenge getting kids outside in winter. Especially if you don’t really love the cold.
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Tips for getting kids outside in winter
Wear proper gear
What you wear outside is probably the number one thing that will make or break your experience. If your feet are cold or your kids’ mittens are wet from the snow, your time outside will end before it begins.
Get good waterproof gloves, warm boots, and wear comfortable but warm layers. Merino wool is my favorite base layer, but we also like the 32 degrees brand – I can usually find both at Costco for the best price, but you can also find them at other stores and on Amazon. Our favorite gloves are the HEAD brand – which we also usually buy at Costco at the beginning of the season.
We often hike in snowpants – for warmth, but also because I know my kids will want to flop onto the ground and play in the snow. ;) Hot hands are also great to throw in your boots or your pockets for extra warmth.
Go with friends
Friends and good conversation are a great distraction from the cold, so bring friends with you when you head out into the winter weather! Meet friends for hiking, head for the sledding hill, go on a winter picnic, or share an evening cozy around a bonfire.
Take a mug of peppermint hot cocoa on your hike or pack a thermos to drink after an afternoon of sledding. It’s a great way to keep warm or get warm after being outside, but warm drinks can be a great incentive for kids, too – especially the ones who need a little convincing to go out when it’s cold.
Embrace winter activities
If you live in a cold weather climate, a keep to getting kids outside in winter is to learn to embrace the outdoor activities!
- downhill or cross country skiing
- ice skating
- backyard bonfire
- snowman building contest
Winter definitely becomes a lot more fun when you learn to enjoy all the fun winter activities!
Set a goal
Some people (especially reluctant littles) are very motivated by a goal – to hike at least once in every week of the year, to spend 1000 hours outside in the year, etc.
Print off a tracker like the ones you can find at 1000 Hours Outside, and then pick a fun way to celebrate when your family hits the goal!
Make it easier for littles
If you’re going to be out with young kiddos, bring some things along that will make it easier for them to enjoy it. Remember, their legs are short and they will tire quickly! So bring a sled or a backpack carrier when you go hiking or snowshoeing, so that you can carry or pull them when they get tired. You can also bring a warm blanket and a camping chair for them to snuggle up if your big kids are sledding, but your little one is done.
Young kids also last longer if they have snacks, so bring along a snack that’s easy to eat on the go – while wearing mittens! For example, applesauce pouches, fruit strips, and granola bars are much easier to eat than trail mix with giant mittens on your hands. ;)
If your little one has a tendency to melt down when their mittens get wet, throw an extra pair of mittens in your bag too.
Study nature in winter
Winter makes for a great nature study! You don’t need to do anything formal – you can just observe what you see and talk about it. Kids love to draw connections between the things they read and the things they experience outside. One trick to getting kids outside in winter is to read about it, then go experience it!
Scavenger hunts and creative writing prompts are also great ways to engage kids’ minds along with their outdoor winter activities. You can download the winter scavenger hunt below, along with the winter creative writing prompts – both are free!
**You can unlock my winter nature study guide by
joining the Cultivate Your Home membership!**
Know when to be done
Especially if you have littles (or the weather is quite cold), know when to call it quits and head inside. When you stop before the complaining or tiredness hits, you’ll keep the experience positive. Then you’re much more likely to have excited kids next time you want to get them outside!