My goal for every season with my children is to get outside with them everyday for at least 30 minutes. This is a goal I set for me, but inevitably it benefits them tremendously! Its not something I even talk about with them because I know once I do, I wont be able to have a cheat day; rest being equally important here too. My girls are the type of kids that think they are helping when holding you accountable for goals you set loosely for yourself. Any parents out there have kids like mine? Oh, I’m sure!
Just recently, I set an alarm on my phone that goes off everyday at 2:30 labeled “Adventure Time”. With homeschooling through this season I have really needed the loud reminder. Some days this alarm leads to epic adventures by the river or on a trail. Other days we only make it to the back yard to mix up some sweet mud pies, not focusing so much on what we are doing, but just that we are DOING something in nature surrounded by fresh air and Gods creation.
Where we live in the heart of Washington state we get all four gorgeous and sometimes drastic seasons. Our Springs are filled with wild flower hikes, Summers are spent trying to stay cool near the Wenatchee river with days that seem to stay pretty steady between 90 and 100 degrees. Fall is a nice break from what often turns to a smoke filled fire season, hiking among the yellow larches, changing of leaves, football and camping. In every season, no matter how it changes, I am encouraged to get outside and celebrate the newness with my children. You may have noticed I intentionally left out a season, our current season here in the Pacific Northwest – Winter.
Its been almost eight years since I made the choice to move to the country and settle down with my husband and start a family. My first winter here I was not the least bit excited to trade out my fashionable combat boots for my first pair of clunky water-proof snow boots. I didn’t understand layers and big puffy coats, and it was a wardrobe change that I am pretty sure I still mourn some winter days. Not because I don’t love where I live, but because its a lot some days! Taking twenty minutes to put on enough clothes to stay warm for 30 minutes outside was so daunting those first few years.
The five step process I use with my kids to make sure we have everything we need to go out for extreme sledding and snowboard practice is something I didn’t always know. For a long while I understood snow sports as something only white families did. Not only did my family not grow up doing a lot of the fun outdoor activities my kids have the privilege of doing now, but I never even knew winter as a child. Born in San Diego, Ca I hadn’t even seen snow flakes until my parents moved us up to Washington. I was 9 at the time. Even then we lived in Tacoma and when I was growing up we NEVER got snow there. Just a whole lot of rain, like an ungodly amount of rain. Sometimes it would rain for 30 days in a row, stop for 2 days and then rain until Summer! That was where I grew up… Shout out to the 253, I love you!
In an attempt to continue to share my experience and journey in the outdoors with you, I decided I needed to clue all you parents and adventurers out there into something we call “five alive”. I am sure there are tons of other names for what outdoor parents use as a checklist to get their kids ready for playing in the snow, but this was brought to my attention when my oldest started public school. Its the five things you need to stay alive for an outdoorsy winter in the mountains. Our school district doesn’t take breaks from going outside to play and do PE just because it snowed or is snowing! All kids outdoors, rain or shine, which of course, I love! They encourage every parent to help their child remember their five items, and have coat drives to support and surround the families that don’t have the financial stability to purchase them. In past winters they have done XC skiing for PE, and make activities like that equitable and accessible for all children in the district!
Here is a required list of Winter gear:
- Water-proof snow pants or bib
- Water-proof and insulated snow jacket
- Water-proof and insulated snow boots
- Water-proof gloves
**This list does not include the layers they should already be wearing that would live underneath the snow pants or bibs for added comfort and warmth. Use these examples to know what to look for. This sustainable mama ALWAYS shops second hand first, be sure to check your local thrift store! Your lucky if these items last a full season, kids grow like weeds. The links above are for my favorite LL Bean pieces, but I am not getting paid when you shop these links. They are just some of my honest favorites!
A FEW EXTRA TIPS:
+Make sure to have your children use the bathroom BEFORE they put their snow pants on. Without failure they will need to go as soon as you get them on if you do not remind them beforehand.
+Make sure to always have patience when you are trying to get outside by yourself or with children. This applies for any season and any adventure. I have found its in the midst of rushing and being flustered when I forget a glove or the hot food I had ready and waiting to tag along for the trip.
+Speaking of hot food, add this to your day and make the duration of your trip last a bit longer. We also enjoy hot cocoa and our rechargeable hand warmers in the winter!
+Take a deep breath, run through your checklist one more time before you leave the house. Snow pants, snow jacket, snow boots, gloves and hat, check! It doesn’t hurt to have them repeat it back to you, make a song, game or race out of it to keep things fun and light.
+Keep in mind this routine is for when we are adventuring close to home and on foot. Make sure you never put your child in snow gear inside of a car seat, it wont be tight enough in case of an accident or emergency. Check your car seat manual for more details. When we are getting in the car my checklist happens there, BEFORE I pull out of the driveway.
My hope for listing these here is that someone out there who looks at winter like I used to, as a time to hibernate and stay indoors, possibly won’t any more. Seasonal depression is a real thing and must be acknowledged. A small dose of vitamin D and nature is sure to help during these trying times. The more you get out in the snow, the easier it will get, then you can make an experienced decision upon whether or not winter activities are your thing or not. The color of your skin does not determine that. I hope that we all will continue to do our part and stick to our local guidelines of Recreating Responsibly and Leave No Trace! Apart from that, keep getting outdoors, keep benefiting and giving to Mother Nature as best you know how.
Winter is a beautiful time to take a nature walk, snowshoe, cross country, downhill ski or snowboard. To me, driving in the snow has been the hardest part. I am just now feeling comfortable on long snow filled mountain or back country roads. It takes time, so give yourself grace. Remember not to slam on your breaks and try pumping them instead. Drive slow and steady and remember you have not failed because you need to pull over in a safe location and take a deep breath before continuing on your adventure. Believe me, I’ve been there. Understanding how to drive in the mountains comfortably is a privilege.
Lets pledge together:
30 minutes outside everyday this winter! You got this.
Happy winter solstice. Keep hiking and playing friends!