It’s bitter cold here this week, and getting my kids outside to play is a tough sell. So I’ve been making use of what I call “bits” of outdoor time. It’s a strategy that also works when we’re driving around for errands or loaded up with indoor activities. To me, some time outdoors is better than no time. We don’t have an hour to be outside – or in this case, an hour might give us frostbite. But we do have 10 minutes. What can we do?
Make use of the green space we’ve got, even if it’s the plantings around a parking lot. While his brother was in music class, the little guy and I walked behind two small suburban strip retail centers. We found snow hills to climb, snow balls to throw and lots of crunchy ice. His favorite thing was knocking the tiny icicles from car bumpers. And just when I felt it was probably time to get in out of the cold, we were in front of the deli. Quick warm up and a drink, and we headed back.
The next day was a bit warmer and we had more time. But still, no voluntary takers on my suggestion the boys play outside after school. So I instituted the “bites” approach. First, there is the “bait:” I get them out there by means of a chore (shoveling snow), a rule (no screen time until you help shovel snow) and/or a fun enticement (packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid for pouring on the snow to make designs, color ice, flavor a snowball, and whatever else.). None of these keep us busy for long. But once outside, something more interesting almost always gets them to “bite:” They stay out for their own reasons. On this day, it was a neighbor friend and the sleds.
Not a bad outdoors week, given the weather.
I really want my kids to experience how unique and magical it is outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures, if only for a little while. When else does the inside of your nose freeze?