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Making Friends with Cold

My family loves winter. Skiing, skating, sledding, really we love just all general snow playing. It’s all so much fun. Some might say we enjoy it….we do choose to live above 9,000’ with snow more months than not. To provide a little perspective, It was 8 degrees the other morning at my house (the greenhouse was 18). It ended up warming up later that day to above freezing and I got out for a walk, the kids went ice skating. But it’s really, really cold here at times.

For us, playing outside year round is a daily norm. There’s an old cliché – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. I believe it! I have learned in dressing my children for a successful winter outside play session, that the right layers, gloves, snow pants truly matter. It can mean the difference between 10 minutes and 4 hours of fun.

I think in this season, when the days are so short, getting outside is even more important for our well being. Being outdoors helps us to feel happier, and improves our mental health. Getting off of screens and getting outside where our eyes are looking at the sky, trees, etc. gives us a mood boost and reduces anxiety. And it’s even more helpful if we’re up and moving outside, and not just sitting all day.

Studies also show that we get better sleep when we spend time outdoors! You can see a full list with even more benefits here in this brief article on Web MD.

Here are a few of our favorite outdoor winter activities.

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Hiking If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where there are hikes nearby, I encourage you to check them out. We recently were at camp for Thanksgiving and some family time. While we were there, we not only hiked at GRP some but we also explored the nearby area trails of Dupont, Pisgah, and Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock. All of these places were awesome and so fun to explore!

Walking I love to walk. I love the simplicity of it, the meditation of it, and the fact that you don’t need much to make it happen. I enjoy going with friends and catching up and also going solo and listening to a podcast. It is part of my routine and one of my best fixes for resetting and getting that outdoor time!

Ice Skating My kids LOVE to ice skate. Steve grew up playing hockey, so it has become a family sport for us. My brother helps fuel the love by also buying my children hockey jerseys with their names on them:) We have a local pond that my kids willingly push the snow off of to skate. While I know that might not be the norm in your home town, I do know there are some cool ice rinks in communities. Not only is ice skating just FUN it is great exercise!

Outdoor Games “Go outside and don’t come in until its dark!” Telling your kids to go outside and just play in the yard sparks imagination and creativity. It is amazing what they end up doing. Whether its football, laser tag, soccer, or making up their own games. In school right now, my middle child is building “Whoo-ville” with all of his classmates during recess. They are all so invested in this project and I love hearing updates each day after school.

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Sledding and Snow Sports & Games And let’s not forget the ultimate winter sports – skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, or even just playing in the snow! Our philosophy in teaching out kids to ski has been “just have fun in the snow”. So some days that means they are skiing and sometimes they are just building snow forts or a snowman or just rolling around in the snow. When they were really little we would bring trucks to the ski hill and they would play for hours excavating snow. It was like a giant sandbox.

Fires An outside fire pit is a treat! There is magic in watching and being around a fire. Get some friends, some hot chocolate, and some snuggly blankets and you have yourself an incredibly refreshing outside experience.

While we’re sure to have a few more warm spells here and there, we’ve all switched out our closets, tucked away our open-toed shoes, and pulled out the winter coats and mittens. Winter is here to stay, and we’re adapting and planning some fun winter outings and games.

What’s your favorite way to spend time outside in the winter?