Give Mom a Break. Go Outside and Enjoy Winter!

I’m not trying to get bonus points, but my wife does a lot at our house! As a result, she often needs breaks and a little “me-time” to settle into her favourite glass of wine and to tackle her latest recipe (she cooks and bakes to relax — hooray for me!).

As an outdoor lover, it gives me a great opportunity to take my kids on winter hikes and teach them the outdoors is beautiful and amazing all year round.

Not only do we get the benefits of being active, but there are fewer people on the trails, we can see animal tracks everywhere and the winter silence and scenes are stunning.

Jeff and his daughter enjoying a scenic walk at the park

One of our favourite activities is to snowshoe and follow animal tracks: rabbits, squirrels, foxes or deer. The ultimate reward is catching up to the animal that has left the tracks—although it’s nearly impossible to be quiet enough to see them with all the snow pants swishing, crunching snow, singing and talking. Don’t have snowshoes? No problem. It just means you’ll move a bit slower through the snow.

Conservation Halton has some nice trails and so does the Royal Botanical Gardens.  A favourite of ours is Hendrie Park in Burlington, where you can feed squirrels, chickadees and white breasted nuthatches out of your hand (hint: sunflower seeds and nyger seeds work best).

I never expect to go very far once outside. Walking in the snow or snowshoeing is hard work and can be tiresome for everyone, especially if you’ve got short legs! It’s not about the distance, it’s about the fun and exploration.

The real reward is when we get home and the kids tell mom about the bunnies and chickadees or the snow fort we built with such excitement they can’t wait to do it again. The warm loaf of freshly baked banana bread that mom made during her “me-time” is a great post-hike treat too!

It’s a winning situation all around as mom gets a break for a few hours, I get to be outside with my girls, and they get to explore and be active.

Where do you hike, cross country ski or snowshoe? It’s always good to know of new places. Snow covered forests are a different and wonderful world.

We live in Canada. We have snow. Let’s have some fun!

Winter Hiking Tips

  • Dress in layers – don’t use cotton as a base layer against your skin. Wool or a synthetic fibre is best
  • Make sure their boots and mittens fit. Too big or too small and their feet and hands will get cold
  • Make a thermos of hot chocolate and bring enough cups
  • Bring lots of snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Small binoculars can help spot animals you can’t get close to
  • Don’t over estimate how long you will/can stay out. Come in or come home before they get cold and cranky… leave them wanting more
  • For longer hikes, consider a back-pack child-carrier or a sled you can tow
  • A change of socks and shoes can be helpful so they aren’t in the car with wet feet
  • Sunscreen. You can get a burn in winter too

Share your experience:

For more tips and hints about being active with kids, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at haltonparents@halton.ca
  • Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

About this guest author:

Jeff Crowder has been involved with public health for 11 years, six years as a Physical Activity Health Promoter. A father of two girls and an avid outdoorsman, he has backpacked across many parts of North America and the world. He recently took his two year old daughter on her first canoe trip. They both loved it.

This entry was posted in Babies, Parenting, Physical Health, Preschool, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s