Just because the weather is now cold, windy and wet it doesn’t mean our kids stopped needing time outdoors. Going out when the sun is not shining may not be quite as inviting, but if you are well prepared there is no reason for it not to be enjoyable. I’m forever thankful to Linda from Rain or Shine Mamma for introducing me to a Scandinavian saying ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothes’. I think about it every time I look through a grey wintry window. And is certainly something I had in mind when packing for a winter break with a toddler. Choice of the place was also paramount to ensure great family time.
Where to go?
Given that in winter the likelihood of wind and rain is greater it’s good to choose a place which offers short walks and points of interest close to your base. This way you can pop out for a quick walk in the morning or afternoon, rather than driving somewhere for a long walk and turning back because the weather has turned or someone’s fingers (or toes) are getting cold. With the multitude of puddles your toddler may get wetter than you anticipated, even with a waterproof outfit on, so getting him/her cosy quickly is an advantage.
We have recently taken a trip to a working farm, which proved to be a perfect base. There were lots of animals in pens around the cottage, which meant we could take a walk in the morning to visit and feed them. It required no special preparation or packed lunch, so we could just step out. The farm was also crossed by a footpath, so we were able to go on a slightly longer walks as well. The nearby forest was a great shelter on windy days.
How to prepare for a walk
Toddlers are not know for being fast walkers, so make sure you are all well wrapped, as you won’t be keeping yourself warm by brisk walking. Here’s some more general tips on Hiking with a toddler, which are handy all year round.
Dress all the family appropriately bearing in mind the weather, mud and puddles. This is not the time to dress your toddler in his cute let’s-visit-granny coat. It will not be clean by the end of the walk, or if it is you just all had a stressful walk: you trying to stop your toddler from jumping in puddles, and your toddler getting frustrated because he/she is missing all the fun.
Here are my essentials:
a waterproof outfit – ideally one with elasticated holders to go under shoes, which make sure the trouser legs don’t roll up
good wellies – essential for all those puddles! Rubber ones are softer than plastic and make moving easier – they are also more eco-friendly.
gloves – if it’s not too cold, fingerless gloves are a good idea, as it’s easier for a toddler to pick things up. If it is really cold thick ones with just the thumb are best to keep those tiny fingers toasty.
layers – weather can be changeable, so it’s good to be able to adjust easily.
hat – Little F has rater thin and wispy hair, so a hat is essential to keep his head warm. Ones with flaps over the ears are great. As much as I love chunky knits they do let the wind through, so if you are buying this type of a hat make sure it has a second layer to stop the wind.
tights and long socks – we tend to have more clothes on our upper body, but keeping legs warm is also important
face cream – a fatty cream will protect your toddler’s delicate face from cold and biting wind
hot/warm tea – it’s nice to have a sip of warm tea when the wind is howling around you. We usually take rooibos, so Little F can partake as well. We really like our new MADE Sustained insulated bottle, so much handier than a flask.
What fun is to be had?
The biggest advantage of winter is … puddles! All this rain leaves a true paradise for a toddler, with water standing in every little crevice. Here’s a few things we like to do when out and about in winter:
puddles – without a doubt every toddlers favourite. Especially if you hit the jackpot on a frosty morning and find a frozen puddle to crack. For me this is the equivalent of Amelie Poulain’s cracking caramelised sugar on creme brule (if you haven’t seen this film, watch it! it’s lovely on a cold winter’s night)
mud – great squelching fun and fantastic for making prints with your boots/wellies
cycle of nature – Little F is really in the phase of ‘what’s this mummy/daddy?’, so we had a great opportunity to talk about seasons and cycle of life when going through the forest. We saw fallen leaves and barren trees, decomposing logs, mushrooms (growing on the ground and on the logs). The best props!
animals – because we were rural we had a great opportunity to watch the animals and their poos. It may sound strange, but I think it’s part of the natural knowledge I would like my son to have. I want him to know a cow pat from sheep droppings. We were also finding out which animals like which food. Goats were true to their fame of eat-it-all and ate even cones, while the pig turned her snout on our organic parsnip…
cattle grids – great for practicing balance
trees – I would love to know more about types of trees to be able to pass on this knowledge to Little F. At the moment we can only point out oaks, conkers and various fir trees.
night walk – it does get dark quickly in winter, so when we set out for an afternoon walk we made sure to take a little torch. Little F felt very important brandishing it about. It was also a great tool to get him moving. Daddy shone it in front of Little F, which made him chase it. It got us home twice as quick!
What are your favourite things to do on wintry walks with a toddler? I’d love to hear from you, so do leave me a comment or get in touch on Twitter (@mumbalance).
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