My kids want to play outside all the time...I mean ALL.THE.TIME. This doesn’t change when winter comes and brings its bitter north winds, dreary clouds, short days and occasional snow. They still ask to go outside, and I almost always reply with an emphatic “Yes!” We live in Southern Missouri, so I must say that our winters don’t get very Arctic. Extreme temperatures and wind chills are a whole different story and can be dangerous. But your average winter weather can be a welcome change from the sweat and sunburns of summer. In fact, outdoor play in winter in not only fun, it has other benefits as well. *Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so I can’t give you medical advice. But I am a mom, and I can tell you what works for us.
Exercise! Of course, the kids move around a lot more when they’re chilly in order to keep warm. Their muscles get a workout from running and climbing and jumping and shivering. When they come in from the cold, they are HUNGRY! It’s a good time to do a read aloud while they wrap themselves in blankets, sip hot chocolate and eat everything. Plus, physical activity can help boost the immune system. Very important during winter when sickness seems to be all around.
Fresh Air! Your grandma was right when she told you to go get some fresh air. But she was wrong when she said you’ll catch a cold outside in the winter. Most likely, it’s staying indoors that exposes people to germs that can cause illness. We had the stomach flu go through our house this winter, and it was terrible. But, dare I say, we haven’t had much other sickness. My kids have never been so healthy. No colds, no coughs, nada. And my kids have never played outside so much in their lives as they have since we moved out here to the country. Plus the sunlight helps our bodies make vitamin D, which can also boost immunity.
Imagination! Release your kids to the wild in winter. They can see the landscape in a new light with new colors and new scenery. They can play in snow and mud and clouds and cold. They can see winter wildlife and make bird feeders and track animals. Winter isn’t summer. The beautiful greens and bright colors aren’t there, but winter has a beauty of its own, and it should be noticed, observed and appreciated. So dress warmly (or don’t. My son wears t-shirts and shorts all winter) and get outside. Layers are the way to go. Kids can always shed a layer if they get too warm. Right now I have a pile of coats, sweatshirts, socks and snow pants laying on the back porch. Reminders of winter play and exploration. Childhood at its best.