I Thought of Taking the Night Off

From the computer that is.

This career development program I wrote about last time has taken up a lot of my evenings.

It’s strange sitting in front of the computer for long stretches again. I haven’t done that in… Years!

But then I figured I owed the blog an article. (As if you were all DYING to read something from me!)

Cooped Up

What with all the computer-sitting-at, and the staying-at-home, and the onset of darker, gloomier weather, I decided that the boys and I needed to be able to go outside whenever.

And I really mean WHENEVER.

In German, there’s a saying that a girlfriend reminded me of today.

Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur falsche Kleidung.

That roughly translates to: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.”

When it poured rain on Monday, I realized that the boys had either destroyed or outgrown all their rain pants. So I hopped on to zappos.com and ordered them each a pair of these Columbia kids’ rain pants.

They’re not fancy, they’re not cute, but they do the trick!

Their rain jackets are a hand-me-down (the yellow one on the Bear) and from Target (on the Bug). They’ve been soaked through a couple of times, so I need to re-waterproof them. I usually do this with the same kind of spray I use for shoes and boots, though I’m sure there’s a better product I should be using.

(I find that having them wear lovingly hand knit sweaters under their rain jackets improves the waterproofness. It’s true. Wool is a wonder fiber.)

Their boots are snow boots (on the Bug–didn’t hold up to serious puddle jumping) and an Amazon purchase of Thomas the Tank Engine rain boots for the Bear.

Like I said, nothing fancy. But we all had the gear we needed to spend an hour outside today. (I was decked out in my mom’s old LLBean rain pants, Costco rain boots I picked up the last time I was there, and my Helly Hansen rain jacket I’ve had for years–also needs to be re-waterproofed…)

Next Up…

I’ll need to make sure we have all the necessary gear for really cold weather outdooring!

Not that it really gets that cold here in Virginia, but on the days it does snow, we want to be ready!

Gotta be ready for more exploring in the rain!
4_great_reasons_to_take_kids_outside

4 Great Reasons to Take Your Kids Outside

Summertime, and the living is easy. With the good, warm weather, it’s also easy to remember to take your kids outside. But when the cold north wind starts to blow, we forget how important it is to get outdoors. Here are 4 great reasons to keep taking your kids outside, come rain or shine.

1. Get the kids some vitamin D

Exposure to direct sunlight is the best way for the body to produce this happy-making vitamin. However, if your kids have very pale skin, you’ve got to balance the benefits and the dangers of exposure to direct sunlight.

The Vitamin D council recommends short periods (15 minutes) of exposure in the mid-morning during high summer for pastier kids, and longer periods for kids with darker skin. After that, cover up with clothing, stay in the shade, and/or apply sunscreen.

In winter time, when it’s harder for everyone to absorb vitamin D, it’s even more important that kids spend time outdoors (as well as taking a vitamin D supplement). Why do you think people in Iceland stick their bundled up babies outside to nap? So their little faces can absorb some all-important rays.

2. Burn off energy with some exercise

Having an 18-month-old can feel like sharing a house with the Energizer bunny. They just keep going, and going, and going…

If you ever find yourself stuck in a spiral of hyperactive kids bouncing off the walls preventing you from getting things done, then it’s time to throw them outside.

For younger kids, just being outside and taking it all in will help expend excess energy, even if they don’t do much running around. My little guy loves to lie in the big basket swing in our local playground, but he’s always heavy-lidded and ready to sleep at night, even after spending all afternoon lying back gazing at the sky.

3. Watch them discover EVERYTHING

It takes about 15 minutes to walk from my town’s train station to our house. The other day, it took us an hour and a half.

That’s because the Bug was saying, “Down? Down? Down?” as we got off the train from Munich, and when we approached a safe walking area, I complied.

He stopped at every. Single. Puddle. Every single twig, leaf, or slug. It was pouring rain, but we were both well-equipped with rain coats and pants, and crocs. Since I was in no particular hurry to get anywhere, I just let him be.

Gently encouraging him to move forward from time to time, we spent the next 1.5 hours throwing pebbles down drains, splashing in puddles, poking at snails and slugs, and generally absorbing all there was to discover.

It was amazing to see him wonder at it all, and though I was desperate for a cup of tea by the time we got home, I wouldn’t have hurried him for the world.

4. Take a little time for yourself

As your kids get older and are better able to play on their own, you’ll find that outdoor time becomes you time. Yes, you have to be observant and constantly aware of where your kids are, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them around the playground.

We are lucky to have playgrounds every few feet here in Germany, and many of them are fenced in, and very toddler-friendly. We have found one where no matter where I sit, I can see the Bug. He’s now big enough to run from game to game on his own, and I can sit and knit, while keeping watch out of the corner of my eye.

Being outside with other people takes the pressure off me. While at home I am constantly in demand for entertainment, the great outdoors provides enough to keep him engaged.

It’s also a nice opportunity to meet other parents. I have found this to be especially true when coming to a new place. When kids play together, parents get talking. It’s been a wonderful way to make new friends.

Get the right gear and get going

Germans say that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. While a hailstorm is definitely best avoided, rainy, snowy and gloomy days need not be spent indoors.

For your kids’ sake, and for your sanity, get the right outdoor gear you need, and try and get outside every single day. You’ll all feel better for it.