Another long Manitoba winter is in full swing, but it is still important for children to get lots of fresh air and exercise. Keep your child’s comfort and safety in mind when planning time for outdoor play.
Dress your child in warm, non-restrictive layers of clothing to play outside. This includes insulated boots, winter jackets and snow pants.
Choose mitts that are lined or made of a material that cannot be easily soaked through, or wear two pairs. Try to cover as much skin as possible with a toque that covers your child’s ears, and a neck warmer that covers much of her face.
If you are using a scarf, make sure the ends are tucked securely under your child’s jacket. Loose scarves can become tangled on playground equipment, trees or shrubs and are a choking hazard.
This also applies to hoods, so keep the hood of your child’s jacket up and securely tied around her face.
On days when the temperature or wind chill dips below -25 C, plan to stay inside.
Watch for signs that your child has had too much of the cold: shivering, discolouration of the skin, complaints of numbness, stiffness or aches. At the first sign of any of these symptoms, move your child indoors.
Sometimes children enjoy playing outside so much that they either do not notice or do not want to let you know that they are cold. Make sure your child understands that you are going out to play for a short while, and that he will be able to go out again another time.
Here are some ideas to keep your children active and enjoying the fresh winter air:
• Create a "snow box". Fill a large container with loose, fluffy snow and give your child plastic shovels, rakes and buckets from the summer sand box.
• Build a giant snowball. This can be a winter-long project. Help your child build a big snowball or snowman, and continually add to it over the winter. Part of the fun is watching in the spring as everything melts around it, and the giant snowball is the last to go.
• Get a child sized shovel and let your child help shovel the sidewalk or just dig paths through the yard or park.
• Run together through a patch of freshly fallen snow and try to cover it completely in footprints.
As soon as you come in from the cold, help your child remove all wet clothing and put on warm, dry clothes. Have a warm or cold drink ready to prevent dehydration.
Winter through a child’s eyes is a magical time. If you grew up in this climate, you probably have fond memories of playing in the snow.
Bring out your inner child and enjoy some time playing outside with your little ones this winter!
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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