This past February has been one of the coldest on record in southern Ontario. Despite the frigid temperatures, Hailey and I enjoyed many walks in the great outdoors. Our secret: we dressed for it!

I attended a public meeting last week for a proposed new school in our area. The presenter described how the new school site would function. He indicated that the school board expected children living in the surrounding neighbourhood to walk to school but also suggested the potential for parents to drop off older children at the rear of the property. The children would then walk across the park/rear playground to the school building.

During the question/answer period, a mother walked up to the microphone and stated that she would never let her children walk across the field in the -25° Celsius temperatures we’ve been experiencing this winter. To my astonishment, the presenter admitted that he wouldn’t let his children walk that distance in the cold either.

This conversation has been swirling in my head for several days now. I would have responded in a completely different way had I been the one answering questions.

Although -25°C is more than a tad on the chilly side, it’s no reason to fear being outdoors for a short period of time. A quick walk across a field would take but a few minutes and would not harm the child.

For the last 2 months, my daughter (who is now 9.5 months) and I have been walking to a mom & baby program once a week. Our walk is about 15 minutes. Despite the record cold winter we’ve been having I have not been tempted to drive even once.

We dress appropriately for the cold. We bundle up.

What does dressing appropriately mean?

For a child of school age, dressing appropriately would mean a snowsuit, mitts, boots, hat and scarf.

For an infant such as Hailey, I admit that I don’t put her in the stroller (although mainly because it’s hard to push in the snow). I would if she was bigger but it’s much easier for me to carry her in our Ergobaby. I’ll dress her in a hoodie, put a fleece hat on her head, cover her body in a blanket, and zip her into my jacket with me. Her face remains exposed. Sometimes her hand pokes out for some thumb sucking but I usually try to cover it with my scarf if I can.

By the time we get to our class we are both cookin’ hot!

If I have to put her in the stroller I dress her in her snowsuit and hat, cover her in a blanket, and put the plastic rain cover over the stroller to block the wind.

Hailey has never put up a complaint (other than being star-fished in her snowsuit!).

Kids are Capable of Being out in the Cold!

I used to walk to work and found that I would have to wear my lighter winter coats because I would heat up quickly. Walking in big boots through snow is a bit of a workout! Especially at a brisk pace.

Because I’ve had a lot of experience walking during the winter months, I’m not sure why I would ever worry about my children being outside for short periods of time.

Although -25°C is cold by southern Ontario standards, for other places it would be considered a warm winter day. And guess what? Children live in those colder places too! And some even walk to school.

I wish I could have been the person responding to that woman. I would have told her she was completely out to lunch. If I (or any adult) could do the walk there’s no reason a child couldn’t. It may not be a pleasant walk but it’s totally doable. Maybe my 9 month old is tougher than her kids! 🙂

Alright, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to say that. The complaint by that mother is just another example of how we limit the capabilities of our children. There’s no reason her children can’t walk in the cold other than her belief. I’m hoping her children don’t buy into her belief.

Our kids are capable of more than we give them credit for. Next time you find yourself telling someone your child can’t do something stop and consider whether it’s actually true. We, as parents, have the ability to shape the beliefs of our children. We can help them to realize they have massive potential or convince them they aren’t capable of much.

Which will you choose?