Just the other day I was once again talking about the importance of getting the kids out to play. Torrential rain can of course make things difficult, but crisp autumnal days and especially those winter months when the sun is low and the air clear – there is nothing more lovely than wrapping the kids up warm and having them explore, run, build, play and embrace the outdoors together.
It is easy at this time of year, with frosty mornings and wet weekends, to want to retreat to the house with movies, crafts and indoor play – hibernating until the fair weather returns in spring. And, whilst we do make time for these kind of activities, my kids have never been ones to spend the entire day in doors (and let’s face it – why would you want them to?). Fresh air does us all the world of good and the outdoors in winter is so beautiful, we are certainly a family that enjoys all weather outdoor play.
My kids have always been climbers… the wild ones that go a little nuts when left inside for too long. Because of this I have had to find ways to access the outdoors in all weather and seasons. Is there anything more lovely than little ones bundled up with rosy cheeks and filled with laughter as they race around woodland and fields , or swing high to reach the sky on a swing set? I love to see these scenes as we have long walks together or trips to the park – wearing them out and embracing the outdoors in all weathers!
Here are a few ways I have made this easier for myself:
Before you begin on a muddy walk, trip to the park or even just letting them out to play in the back garden, suitable clothing is a must. It both protects them and also gives you peace of mind that they will be warm and dry.
My kids all have the usual – wellies, hats and gloves etc, but we also ensure that they have puddle suits or snowsuit’s and the older ones – waterproof dungarees. These have been life changing to us with accessing the outdoors to play in all weather, because it allows the kids the freedom to be able to explore, break the ice in deep puddles and slide down a muddy banking! It means that we are not nagging at them to protect their clothing, because they are dressed for an adventure and they are dressed to play.
Take them to favourite places
Reluctance to get out in colder weather can quickly be resolved by taking kids to places they love and that fill them with joy. One of their most favourite outdoor places to play has always been a simple one – their grandmas garden. With her outdoor climbing frame, “pirate ship” and tree house, it is inviting to them in all weathers and it is a garden like no other! I love the opportunities it provides for cousins and siblings to come together and create games for hours on end – exploring, playing, climbing and den building. As they become engrossed in play (and caked in mud) they ignore the fact that the temperature is hovering somewhere around 1 degree and they have the best times! They will then run inside as dusk draws in and cosy up with hot chocolate and the fire and continue games until bedtime.
Another favorite is the beach. I love the beach in all weathers and have (I hope) instilled this appreciation in the kids too. Dressed in waterproofs they can walk in the wave breaks and rock pools or collect shells, stones and other treasures as we take a long brisk walk along the shore! We often head up to Dalby Forest too or just out in local fields, for muddy walks with friends and family. We can spend hours in all of these places and more and they are such a joy for all weather outdoor play.
Accept they WILL get dirty!
There is no avoiding the fact that if you go outside (especially where we live in the countryside) in winter, you will get dirty! Mud is a given and as soon as you embrace that, it becomes so much more enjoyable and easier to allow your kids the freedom to play outdoors in all weather.
If you aren’t up to the prospect of large scale muddy walks or brisk beach expeditions, then maybe look into the prospect of simply getting a climbing frame or play set from a place like Wickey or Fatmoose for Christmas – both have a wonderful array of lovely play equipment and frames for kids with some fab discounts right now, so you could get a mint deal! Either way, playing outside in winter can at times seem madness and off putting, but if you are prepared, I assure you it will be joyful. Not only will you have the chance to make wonderful memories and see the world clothed in crisp frosts and pretty spiderwebs with dew, but you provide the kids with fresh air to build immunity. Been outdoors lifts mood meaning the kids will increase in mental well-being, and walking, play and climbing will develop muscle strength and coordination. These benefits and more, far outweigh a few pairs of muddy boots and cold noses!
*In collaboration with Wickey and Fatmoose