I love being outside.
I want my kids to be outside.
If my house fell down, I’m pretty sure I would be fine living in the backyard for a good three months.
I believe in having sex outside, eating outside, hanging clothes to dry outside, brushing your teeth outside, playing outside, living outside. I LOVE swimming outside; when the sun shines so brightly I have to squint underwater.
Whatever you can do inside, you can do outside. And it’s a lot more fun. There’s mud involved.
Not too long ago I was called out for being the Outdoorsy Mama. The one whose kids camp and don’t think twice about peeing “like a bear.”
I’m down with that. I’ll own it. I love it. I want to be that mom. I want my kids to think of me as that mom, us as that family, and themselves as those kids.
Amelia knew an Aspen from an Ash when she was 2. At 4 she could identify CO’s poisonous snakes (there are only 2!). Mammals of Colorado (a field guide) has been one of her favorite books for well over a year. She went backpacking for the first time when she was 2, and I was 7 months pregnant with Cooper. I’ve been referring to my husband as Mountain Man Mark since our first date. We have shared toothbrushes, forks, spoons, many a freeze-dried meal, a tent with a mouse, deodorant, poison ivy, serious sunburns, a sleeping bag, dry clothes, altitude sickness and hot cocoa on the trail together. Once we attempted to climb Mt. Sherman (aka Mound Sherman) in a blizzard (unplanned. we were being stubborn). We have no idea if we made it to the top, but we distinctly remember rocks the size of our knees blowing around, and some of the best glissading ever. One of the most awesome vacations we’ve ever had was a hut-to-hut trip in Slovenia. They serve blueberry brandy at the huts for crying out loud. Home made.
I like all these things. I like that my kids are like that. I like that my husband is like that. I admit it, I hate princesses. There are none in my house, and I’m happy to keep it that way. If a princess wants into our home, she’s gonna have to earn her keep. By doing something other than being pink and pretty and fawning over a male. And I will let one come in, if Amelia really wants to invite her. I am aware that I have strong likes and dislikes, and don’t want to project them onto my children too much. But I’m their mom, and they should know me. And I will tell them that Ariel is a ninny for giving up her beautiful voice for a man she never even had a conversation with. Not to mention she was seriously disobedient.
I want my kids to be comfortable outside. I am comfortable outside. I sit in the grass even when its damp. I own more sunscreen than make up. I won’t swat at a bees or wasps. Mosquitoes are annoying, but not worth playing inside for. I will never scream over a snake or a spider. Perhaps a slug, but come on – they’re like living boogers!
We might get snow tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or in a week. I don’t even know. It doesn’t matter. When I go outside I will see the snow if it’s there, and feel how cold it is. That’s how I determine what to wear that day. Not because the newscaster told me the night before at 10:20.
If I were to have a mantra it would be this: There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad preparation. I believe this to my core. And if you want to call me out on it because I live in CO, where it is sunny 300 days a year, let me tell you that it is NOT sunny 300 days a year in England. I know, we lived there for 5 years. And spent a lot of time outside.
So, what’s the point of this post? To get you go-go GO outside of course!!! Winter is here, and while there are a ton of fun things to do inside, there is no reason to stay there the whole time. Don’t be afraid to take your kids outdoors! Don’t be afraid to let them get dirty (and to get dirty with them). There is no reason to scream about any wild animal. Unless it’s with excitement. There isn’t much you can do outside that can’t be cleaned up afterward. And oh the imagination! And the confidence that will grow! When you take away the toys, kids use their minds. When you let your daughter climb a rock, a tree, a mountain she will feel incredibly great about herself. And it will have nothing to do with what she’s wearing. Throwing rocks build little muscles and aim (which is never a bad thing to have). Running on a trail builds endurance and agility. Learning about plants and animals is both practical and interesting. Let them touch bugs and bark, leaves, sticks and ant hills. And when the weather is cold there is no reason not to put on hats and mittens, coats and scarves. That’s what they’re made for. Not just to look cute.
Want some ideas for outside play in the colder months? Alright – I can swing that. But really…. we do many of the same things outside any time of the year. That’s what layers are for.
1. Snow. Need I say more?
2. Make a leaf identification book. Or rocks. Or bugs.
3. Take pictures of things (anything!) and identify them with the all-knowing Google when you get home. Draw them. Look at them over and over. My kids can look at pictures for days on end. Especially one’s they’ve taken! And smartphones are so great for this!!
4. Have a treasure hunt. Make up what you’re hunting for as you go along. Your kids will never catch on.
5. Chase and race. Snow and mud make this even more fun.
6. Sidewalk chalk. Draw the way trees look different in each season. Trace each others’ shadows at different times of the day.
7. Put different liquids outside overnight – see if they freeze. Let kids stick things in and on the frozen liquids. It’s fun to make a kool-aid ice cube with a surprise inside.
8. Lay in the hammock with loads of blankets and pillows. Read. (Amelia’s idea)
9. Make s’mores!
10. Take a hike. Ride a bike. Go for a run. Play at the playground.
It’s just cold(er) out there. Nothing is falling apart, blowing away or freezing to death. Hats, mittens, coats and boots can solve nearly any weather problem.