With March Break around the corner, a lot of us may be dreaming of a warm beach instead of a sparkling snow drift, but if you’re staying in the Great White North this month, fear not – there’s plenty to do with your little ones to build memories and have a great time.
Winter weather can be intimidating, but fresh air does the soul good in any season, plus after hibernating inside we all need to blow off some steam and get moving. Even babies benefit greatly from being outdoors in cold weather – just be sure to layer up and limit time in extreme cold to 15 minutes or so. As the famous Nordic saying goes, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. Make sure your kids double up on socks and wear thin gloves under thick, water resistant mittens, and keep them moving, or babies well covered in a stroller bag like 7 am Enfant’s Cocoon or Evolution Blanket.
Once you’re out and well dressed for the cold, everything is more fun in the snow!
- Build a snowman Family and use something from each family member to put on their snowy representation (Mom’s scarf, Dad’s toque, baby’s soother, etc.). This makes for such a fun family memory and you can do it every year as your family grows! A fun photo for next year’s Christmas card, too!
- If the sidewalks permit, take your sled to a local cafe for a hot chocolate or tea. If you’re not close enough to walk, take the sled on a walk through the fields or woods and bring along a thermos with your favourite hot drink.
- Go snowshoeing while baby-wearing your little one. Finding the right carrier is a game-changer, and once you have it, you’ll be comfortable doing all sorts of activities. I highly recommend the Beco Gemini as the crossed straps in the back give the most support. For 18 month olds and beyond, try the toddler carrier. Why not bring along your little one and let her nap al fresco? She’ll be so warm strapped to mom or dad, and you might just get some moments of tranquility together as the motion of your hike lulls her to sleep.
It may not be long before your little one needs to get back inside, so you might find you spend a lot more time indoors in the winter months. Just because you’re stuck inside, doesn’t mean cabin fever has to take over. Here are a few ideas to bond as a family and keep your little ones occupied while indoors.
- Visit your local arena and introduce them to skating. Most arenas offer chairs and other supports for toddlers who are just learning. Make sure to dress them in thick layers, more so to protect their bum from falls than to keep warm! And please remember a helmet for your little one.
- Make Playdough and then play bakery. Making the dough is half the fun and takes a good thirty minutes when kids are helping (10 minutes if it’s just you!) Then stretch out the activity by giving your child cookie cutters and birthday cake candles to add to their playdough creations. *Recipe below!
- Curl up to a book, but let someone else do the reading. Doctors and teachers consistently recommend reading aloud to your children, and it’s a good goal to have for yourself to read aloud for 20 minutes per day with your little ones. But on days when you feel like taking a break, before you turn on the TV, check out audio books. All classic books such as Beatrix Potter tales are in the public domain, and thus, free to download, and you can find thousands of titles online for only a few dollars. It’s a nice way to unwind together and still be entertained without screens. Another option would be visiting your library during Story Hour. Librarians are always the greatest at reading aloud!
Winter can be a tough season with children. Just getting them out the door with all of the required snow gear can make any outing seem less worthwhile! Having a plan with a few activities up your sleeve can make all the difference on those freezing days. We hope these will get you started!
*Homemade Playdough Recipe:
1 cup water
1 cup water
1/3 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon canola oil
Food colouring and essential oils for colour and scent
Add every ingredient except for the food colouring and essential oils into a large stock pot and place on a burner set to medium/low. Stir frequently to eliminate bumps (some will remain). The dough will solidify in around 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Once cooled, divide and stir in food colouring and oils to your taste. If it seems a bit sticky, add more flour. The more you knead the dough, the better incorporated the food colouring will be, take our all your parental stresses on it!
This recipe makes four balls of playdough (each the size of a baseball)