I love the snow but winter also brings out my inner blanket snuggling, tea sipping, kid cuddling, “lets just watch one more episode” kind of attitude…some days this feeling seems to trump all and I find it sooo hard to get out and move. Even though a popcorn filled tv day is ok every once in a while, I definitely need to give myself a kick in the butt to get outside. Here are 5 tips for how I make…well try to make it happen…
During the winter I try to allocate “Outside Time” with the kids every day. I normally give myself a minimum of 1 hour for the whole ordeal. Some days we spend 20 minutes getting dressed just to take a few steps and go back in. Other days the adventures take on a life of their own and an hour isn’t enough. But notice how I didn’t say “Make a Plan”, here’s why…
2.Plan to be Outside but Don’t Have a Plan
Sometimes plans help to keep us motivated and other times, planning can be a set up for dissapointment—especially if you have young kids who change their minds frequently (as much as 20 times per hour…or more). As I mentioned, I make time to go outside but the plan often changes. If my son doesn’t feel like making a snowman, I’ll put him in the Chariot and go for a walk. On the flip side, if it’s too icy we might skip the walk and play mini hockey in our backyard. If you excel at having a plan and follow through, that’s awesome but if you’re likely to let yourself down and end up feeling like a flake if things don’t go accordingly, not having a plan may help recalibrate your expectations.
3.Manage Your Expectations
Back when I did yoga, I never understood what it meant when the instructor said “set/think of your intention” before the class started but now I get it. Before letting your mom guilt take over, ask yourself why you want to get outside. Seems silly but trust me. A lot of underlying motives can reside in that burning desire to get out and about. Is it to explore with your kid(s)? Get 30min of exercise? Bring them closer to nature? Or is it for you? There is no bad answer but if you know what you’re trying to achieve, it will help keep your expectations in check. You may also discover that you need to set aside time for other desires if they aren’t appropriate at the time. For instance, you may need to blow off some steam but is a 1hr, uninterrupted, fast paced walk with your little(s) actually achievable at the time? Ummm, no? Maybe time to switch gears.
Kids are humans with minds of their own. Just like us, they get exhausted or simply don’t feel like doing things. They are also in the midst of developing so many amazing skills like walking, jumping, throwing rocks…of course it makes sense that they want to push the boundaries of their own capabilities and may not want to sit in a carrier or want to stop every 3 steps on a hike to check out a rock or piece of dirt.
Remind yourself why you’re trying to get outside and aim to accomplish that goal no matter how “small” you think it is. It’s easy to get distracted with “bigger and better” thoughts (trust me, I know) but if you set your sight on the task at hand, you’ll almost always get back inside feeling a sense of accomplishment.
4.Pack a ‘Bug Out Bag’ (BOB)
My husband taught me this trick when we had the flexibility of waking up and spontaneously deciding to go to the mountains. Rather than running around and trying to pull everything together before heading out, we’d keep a pre-packed bag of essential items for trips to the mountains.
Depending on the season (and now that we have kids) my BOB looks a lot different but in winter I pack it with extra mitts, diaper essentials, a Buff, hand warmers, Kleenex, crackers, $10, and water. This saves my sanity from having to run back inside for forgotten items once the kids are finally out and also helps me stay somewhat prepared as plans change. As a bonus, it also feels like you have to pack way less when the time actually comes to get outdoors.
5.Have The Right Gear
I love to save money and also buy the majority of my gear used or on sale, so when I say “have the right gear”, don’t tense up with the thought of spending hundreds of dollars just to get outside. On the other hand, I won’t save a couple of bucks if it means putting my kids in something that’s going to hinder their experience outdoors. When it comes to getting outside in winter, there’s something to be said about having warm, flexible clothing. AND if you want to get beyond your front steps or backyard, you may want to invest in a more heavy duty stroller or carrier pack. I’ll write about my favourite winter essentials in a follow up post.
BONUS TIP!—Stay Positive!
I’m not sure why but I’m always so surprised how kids act like little sponges when it comes to emotions. If I’m having a bad day, I definitely see how it projects on my son as his mood starts to turn as well. Although getting out can be a hassle, remember your goal and keep the experience fresh and light. Seeing you happy and excited will make your kid(s) that much more patient and excited to try something new!
Remember—every little bit helps. Getting into a daily routine of outdoor time may require some work but in my experience, it has only gotten easier and easier. My little guy will now sit patiently as I bundle him up in layers and layers of clothing. He also doesn’t get frustrated if he can’t pick things up the way he wants to with his mitts. It does require some adjusting (or in my case a silent pep talk) but it’s all been worth it to get a daily dose of fresh air!
Now back to my coffee and blankets 🙂