I really, really, really don’t like winter. Grey skies and snowy streets make you feel cooped up, and I’m already getting nervous about having a busy energetic walking baby boy indoors! So, I have a plan…
I’m going to take Toby outside to play for a long time everyday, no matter what.
In Scandinavia (the land of all things good and true:), parents take their babies and children out for ages everyday, rain, snow or shine, according to my lovely friend Lee, who grew up in Copenhagen. “You just wrap your babies up in whatever you have,” she says. “You stick them in the stroller and take them outside. Bigger kids wear full snowsuits—every Danish kid has one—and ‘elephant hats,’ which go over your whole head with your face peeking out.” Another friend who lived in Sweden told me that every Swedish child wore rain pants, and grown-ups wore waterproof clothing. “In Denmark, you can’t be afraid of the weather,” Lee says. “Otherwise you’d wait six months to go outside again.”
There’s even an awesome Scandinvian expression that says, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes,” (which I first heard from the Swedish children’s store Polarn O. Pyret). What an inspiring mantra. We just have to bundle up! Plus, isn’t it kind of wonderful to go outside on a cold winter day? Or during a light rain? The air feels crisp and pure!
The most fascinating thing I learned from a baby book is that, for children, being indoors is both overstimulating and boring at the same time. Isn’t that interesting? Throughout history, “children spent most of every day frolicking outside,” writes Harvey Karp, M.D., in his brilliant book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. “Our homes are boring because they replace the exciting sensations of nature (the feeling of the wind on their skin, the brilliant sun, the soft grass, etc.) with an immense stillness (flat walls, flat floors, no wind).” Yet at the same time, being indoors is overstimulating: “It bombards them with jolting experiences that kids in the past never had to deal with: crazy cartoons, slick videos, clanging computer games, noisy toys, and bright colors everywhere…which can make many little children feel stressed.”
Don’t you feel the same way, even as an adult, when watching TV or being on the computer for too long? And Toby is always much calmer and happier chilling outside than in our teeny shoebox apartment.
So, my darlings, let’s do it! I’m excited to try to play with Toby outdoors everyday this fall and winter–having adventures, getting fresh air, feeling energized, meeting other brave valiant mamas. Even if it means shivering a little, getting rained on and coming home with a wet baby (not to mention frizzy hair:). I’ve been a wuss in the past about spending hours outdoors in bad weather, but I think it will be fun and (dare I say it) almost makes me excited for the winter.
I’m really curious: Do you already take your children to play outdoors in the rain and snow, heat and sunshine? Where do you live? Did you spend a lot of time outside when you were growing up? Will you take your kids outside everyday in the winter, too, or would you prefer to stay cozy indoors? Do you live in a place that has rough winters? I would love love love to hear your thoughts…