Winter. Where do I even begin.
Winter is beautiful, calm, and at times, even romantic (think cuddling up in front of a fire with the snow falling out the window). But I have two little kiddos, so most of my time during winter is spent trying to figure out a way to get out of the house safely to burn some restless kid energy and have fun!
Did you know winter technically is only from December 21st to March 20th? Ha! I say to that. Winter is not a mere three months log, winter is sometimes seven months long! It consumes more than half the year, which is why I start preparing for the cold season in September. That seems mind-blowing to think about; I just packed up all our winter gear in June, just four short months ago! So why do I prep for winter so early?
My Motto: Be Prepared!
Winter in the Northland is so darn unpredictable. We can have snow as soon as October (I’m looking at you, 2020!) and as late as May or even June. That’s a big deal for parents because being stuck inside your home with children for that long can be enough to make anyone need to run outside to cool down.
Being able to get my kids outside is key to a successful winter. (Well, let’s be honest, it’s also the key to happy parents, happy kids, and good naps no matter what the season!) This means that you have to have the right winter gear. All four seasons are doable with the correct clothing to protect your littles from the elements.
Winter gear is pricey, but worth it if it’s going to keep the kids warm. I have my husband get our many, manyyyyy winter bins down from the attic and start rummaging through them slowly starting in September. I have two toddlers, 18 months and three, one a girl and one a boy. I bring this up because I find it easiest to buy outdoor gear in unisex colors so that my youngest can wear her older brother’s hand-me-downs. Then, most of the time, I only need to hunt down gear for one kid.
By starting early, I don’t feel rushed to buy brand new winter gear. I shop at our local used clothing stores (examples: Once Upon a Child, Lots for Tots, Great Lakes Gear Exchange.) and use social media online selling sites. I know for some people, meeting up with strangers from the selling site can feel risky, but there are designated Meet Up Spots that are in the public and monitored by security cameras at all times. If anyone selling to you doesn’t want to meet in a public spot then it would be my advice to find another seller.
Rely on Layers and Hand-Me-Downs
Both my kids have a base layer, some sort of wool or synthetic non-cotton layer that goes under their clothes. I usually buy this new for my older child and pass his from the previous year down. My youngest can still fit into a fleece bunting suit so she gets that as her second layer but my oldest has insulated pants and a heavy fleece hooded zip-up as the second layer. For the transition of fall to winter and winter to spring both kids have rain suits. This is something that isn’t too warm but protects them from the wind and the moisture of morning dew or an afternoon rain.
I am a huge fan of the rain suit, especially after rainstorms for an afternoon of care-free puddle jumping. For winter, I prefer a full one-piece snow suit still for my kids. I personally feel they can move around easier in a one-piece instead of two and it’s all one suit so it keeps the warmth in. (With a bonus that one piece is easier to keep track of than two!) This will obviously change as my children get older and they will move on to the bib and jacket set up.
I do feel keeping their little bodies warm is fairly easy to do with three layers, however I struggle with the extremities: head, hands and feet. For the head, I have multiple hats. I keep us stocked with several because hats always seem to get lost. We keep extras at daycare and at home.
To keep hands warm in cold temperatures, we buy wool socks and put them onto our kids’ hands under their gloves.
This year we will move to using wool gloves on my three-year-old under his big mittens. Of course, I am sure every parent out there is thinking about mittens, “Yeah right, they don’t even keep them on!”
Know When to Pay for Quality
I use the Stonz brand and I love them because they have two areas where you can cinch down the glove which make them near impossible to take off. They are water- and wind-resistant and, my favorite part, machine washable. They are pricey, but when I do have to buy new gear, the two things I remind myself are that my goal is to keep my kid happy, warm and safe AND to buy unisex so I can hand it down or sell it easily on the local trading sites.
Speaking again of used items, I always purchase used boots. I usually buy two pairs for each kid because one sometimes boots get wet and you will want a backup pair so you can get back out there and enjoy the day after nap/quiet time/lunch break.
Now that I have all of my winter gear organized, my next step is to start thinking of all the fun adventures we will be able to do outside this winter. Stay warm, Duluth!