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HomeFamilyParenting AdviceGo Out and Play! —Good Parenting

Go Out and Play! —Good Parenting

Dear Dr. Debbie,

I’ve got the mid-winter blues. I have two little ones that keep me very busy which leads me to this question. With four arms besides mine to stuff into jackets, it feels like it takes half the day to get in an outing. Although, by the third or fourth day stuck at home, my mood and theirs is pretty sour. Any suggestions?

What Does the Groundhog Say? 

Dear WDtGS,

Statistically speaking, the reliability factor is highly questionable that a long-range local weather predication can be based on whether or not the sun is shining when a groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA  pops out of his hole. His shadow (on a sunny day) has meant six more weeks of winter, and no shadow (on a cloudy day) has meant spring is right around the corner only 38% of the time. Groundhog Day on February 2nd is just a silly holiday meant to break up your winter blues.

Regardless of the groundhog, there are good reasons for getting outside in winter weather.

There are Great Places to Go
Children have a high need for movement which parks and playgrounds take care of nicely. (See below for dressing appropriately in layers.) In case you need reminding, Chesapeake Family Magazine has an endless list of fabulous places, classes, and special events for you to go to with your little ones, both outside and indoors. From story times to yoga to music to stroller jogging, you can be among others that share this season of your life. The Anne Arundel County Public Library alone has a full calendar of monthly events which can be searched online by branch and age group. Or hang out among the children’s books and toys any time you like. Chesapeake Children’s Museum  is another great indoor hang out, perfectly suited for little ones and their accompanying grown-ups, with the option of a park and small playground right outside. A six-week session of Tinkergarten – guided nature play – starts at CCM January 30th!

Just Take a Walk
Try to set a daily time to bundle up and head out, even if your outing is a short expedition to the grocery store. Even a walk around the block  with a double stroller, or stroller and baby backpack will give everyone fresh air, fresh views, and improved moods. Extra benefits for you, the one actually walking, include a workout for your heart and lungs while lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, and hypertension, as well as boosting your immune system and building muscle mass. There are immediate benefits to your brain – clearer thinking, increased capacity for memory, and better ability to multi-task. Regular walking increases the volume of grey matter, an overall indication of brain health. Keep an eye out for other stroller walkers in the neighborhood to build your circle of parenting friends!

Dress in Layers
Outdoor adventurers live by the motto, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”

Use this wisdom to plan everyone’s outfits in three parts:

1. Base – a thin layer to wick away perspiration (include long johns and log socks for the legs)

2. Middle layer – a wool sweater, or fleece or cotton sweatshirt (with sweatpants) to trap body heat

3. Outer layer – puffiness for more insulation plus rain proofing just in case.

For keeping ears and heads warm, choose among headbands, earmuffs, ski caps, or hats with earflaps, depending on each person’s comfort. A hood on the sweatshirt or jacket adds an extra layer, too. Footwear should of course be comfortable, especially for you if you’re doing all or most of the walking, although toddlers seem to enjoy waddling around in their rubber boots! Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves and are essential for playing in the snow. They do get lost easily though, however a sock is a handy replacement.

Dance the Blues Away
For those days when the walk was too short, or the weather too severe for you to get out at all, turn your home into a workout room. Stairs are for climbing up and down. Dining room chairs make a great obstacle course for crawling under and around. (Removable) couch cushions serve as mini-mountains and trampolines. Then clear as much room as you need and turn on the tunes for an aerobic dance session.

Whatever the outcome on Groundhog Day, you and your little ones can weather your way through to winter’s end.

Dr. Debbie

Click here for more parenting advice by Debbie Wood.

What do you think? Email your comments or questions to Dr. Debbie at editor[at]chesapeakefamily.com.


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