go outside

Just before New Year’s I read There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather and I feel a little silly about it but I really did find it inspiring. Obviously I did have some problems with it, like literally HOW can you say the only obstacle between kids playing outside in wet/cold weather is high-quality outdoor gear and not even acknowledge that these things are out of the budget for a LOT of families. Even secondhand may be too pricy/not an option if you don’t have the time/capability to troll through used clothing shops to try and find the sizes you need OR go all over town sourcing them from randos on craigslist or fb marketplace??? Like I got Gwen’s ice skates and helmet used via fb marketplace and YES I saved money but also YES picking up each item took literally hours of time. Anyway, there’s is definitely some seriously unexamined privilege in this book.

This issue aside though, before I even finished it I was really doing my best to get the kids outside more. This two weeks of winter break has been awesome and it’s been wonderful to see Gwen & Nicky have the chance to play and interact without the added variable of the daycare kids; last time I had vacation Nicky was still too small to really *PLAY* the way he can now and it’s been a delight. HOWEVER they (and everyone) have had a bit of cabin fever and too much screen time and there’s been a few temper tantrums and bad nights of sleep as a result. The day after I started reading the book I was DETERMINED to take the kids outside rain or shine and wouldn’t you know it, it was a gorgeous sunny day! Fully blue-skied and clear in the morning. It was cold as heck though, but I didn’t let that stop us and after a small amount of cartoons I bundled them up in head-to-toe waterproofs and we hit the playground. And you know what? We had fun!

Of course, I already knew how much fun my family could have outside in gross weather after Nicky’s extremely wet & muddy but also extremely successful pumpkin patch birthday. And the kids often ask to go outside in any weather at all, which is something I definitely should not be discouraging. I have found myself saying “not right now, it’s too cold/wet/muddy to play outside” which needs to stop! I think my main obstacles are:

1. I can’t send both kids outside to play on their own.
Growing up in the country I definitely had one of those “go out to play see you at dinnertime” childhoods with plenty of forest exploring, creek-wading, fort-building, and tree-climbing. We’re lucky to have a fenced backyard that the kids can play in but we do still live downtown in a major city and honestly… not all the people who live or pass through our neighborhood or even our yard are kind, or harmless. I’m just not comfortable letting them both go out alone, especially with my limited view of the backyard from inside the apartment. Also the gates don’t necessarily latch securely and while Gwen is very good about staying in the yard, Nicky just isn’t there yet. So both of them going outside also means me (or Taylor, or Sym) going outside and with work, school & home responsibilities that’s just not always an option. I will admit though that sometimes I just don’t wanna go out and stand around in the cold/wet while they play!

2. I get burnt out on outside time from school drop offs/pick up
Obviously this hasn’t been a problem these last two weeks but during the school year dropping Gwen off & picking her up with all the daycare kids in tow is a HUGE production. Getting everyone’s outdoor gear on and walking five block there and back at the speed of two- and three-year olds takes an hour, two times a day. Fitting in snacks, lunch, and nap around it takes some tight scheduling and when you factor in the dressing/undressing/cleaning up sometimes there just isn’t time to get in a good amount of outdoor play. Additionally during the warmer months we typically go outside after afternoon snack and stay out until pick up time but at this time of year it’s basically pitch dark by then.

Something that ISN’T an obstacle for us though is outdoor clothing; both kids have an abundance of waterproof rain gear and warm snow gear. Of course it hasn’t snowed at all this winter but the snowsuits are getting a decent workout as non-rainy-day outer layers to keep small bodies and inner layers of clothing warm, dry and free from mud. I know that we’re lucky that we can afford (or have previously been able to afford; all Nicky’s stuff is Gwen’s hand-me-downs) a variety of layering options and that makes overcoming my other obstacles easier. I have been trying to let go of the idea that expending the effort getting the kids and myself geared up for just a short amount of outdoor time is a waste, and recently we have been going out to play in the late afternoons when it’s dark and honestly, they have just as much fun as when it’s light. The other day I even brought sparklers out for them to play with in the rain before dinner and it was a huge hit! (I don’t think I could get away with that during the work week though, the child care powers-that-be probably frown on fireworks lol).

Going forward I want to continue making more of an effort on this. I’ve already seen positive results from both kids with better sleep and fewer tantrums when we’ve spent more time outside. Of course as soon as I embarked on this new adventure I immediately got sick as shit but I haven’t let that stop me… much.

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