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Good Old Fashioned Fun in the Snow

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Good Old Fashioned Fun in the Snow

The recent snow caused us to be cut-off for 4 days which was super-exciting for all of us. With all three roads into our village blocked by huge drifts we were limited to a radius of around 200m from our house. Initially, the prospect of entertaining our children within such a small area and ensuring we all didn’t get cabin fever felt insurmountable, but, we were proved wrong.

In fact, what happened was a snippet of times gone by. A time when motorised transport didn’t exist. When days were spent playing in and around the vicinity of the family home. When games and entertainment were what you made from what was around you.

Just getting out of the door proved tricky enough!

Just getting out of the door proved tricky enough!

There were some caveats, of course; we had a fridge full of food (thankfully we’d gone shopping the day the snow begun to fall), we had electricity, we had films to watch when it got too cold to be outside, and we had internet connection. So, we weren’t that cut-off at all.

Physically getting around, however, was a different story. The first obstacle we had to overcome, once the winds had died down enough to consider going outside, was the sheer depth of snow. The drifts were up to our waist in places, which was tricky enough for us adults, but for the children that meant a snow depth of chest height – the poor things were literally getting stuck in the snow!

After we dug ourselves out of our house – literally – we had to make the best use we could of our sledge to pull our son (4) and carrying our daughter (1) in a fireman’s lift proved the only way to move her without exhausting ourselves in the process. Wading through thick, deep snow while carrying a wee one on your hip is an energy-sapping affair!

The extent of our ‘world’ for 4 days, apart from keeping snug indoors, consisted of the 200m walk/wade to the end of our village where progress was blocked due to huge snowdrifts, our back garden and the field opposite our house.

So, how did we have such an awesome time during The Snowfall of 2018? Here’s my list of the Essentials for Fun in the Snow with wee children:

Activities

The main activities we enjoyed as a whole family in the field were:

  • Sledging – going in pairs or singly, we found a great run and kept rotating the sliders.
  • Snowboarding – parents are allowed to have fun too!
  • Sliding – being kitted out in winter suits and waterproofs, we were all as slidy as slidy things, so after finding a nice steep drop, we all had a good go at sliding.
  • Snowmen and igloos are also good fun, but with children as young as ours, they can easily get too cold to enjoy playing with the ‘end product’ as it can take a long time to build.

Clothing

'Zoot suits' are an essential part of adventures outdoors

'Zoot suits' are an essential part of adventures outdoors

Essential to keeping everyone happy was thermal base layers, thick winter suits a.k.a. ‘zoot suits’ and double socks inside those welly boots. With the right clothes on and the ‘morale boosters’ mentioned above, we were able to play in the snow for over an hour each day.

Staying out in the Snow

Walking back up to the top of the field every time after sledging down was a mission, given the depth of snow. Not only that, but the biting wind was sweeping across the top too. This meant fruit and chocolate bites were needed to keep everyone’s spirits up and prolong our play in the fields. When it can take well over half an hour to get everything together and everyone kitted up and out the door you need to get as much time out of your trip as possible to have made it worth the effort of getting outside in the first place! This means morale boosters are vital part of your outdoor, winter play kit.

The Result

Two weary children with rosy cheeks filled with clean, fresh air and fun, exhilarating experiences coursing through their minds with them ready to eat their dinner and flop into bed – Parenting Win!

Good Old fashioned Fun?

Too right! I thought being cut-off for 4 days with the children would drive me stir crazy. Instead it opened my eyes to see that fun time with the children doesn’t need to have bells and whistles. It doesn’t need an hour’s drive to get there. It can all happen right by your house and all it needs is some motivation (not always easy when it’s cold outside and you’re tired from just being a parent, but worth making the effort if you can), some imagination and a big sense of FUN - if you make it fun, they will most likely have fun and that is what it’s all about.

Ryan is this blog's Family Adventure Editor. Ask him questions or suggest future article topics in the comments below.

Parents are allowed to have their fun too!

Parents are allowed to have their fun too!

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EXPLORING AT CHILD’S SPEED

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EXPLORING AT CHILD’S SPEED

Messing about with water in the woods - a perfect combination.

Messing about with water in the woods - a perfect combination.

As a parent of two little children with BIG minds, it can be difficult to remember that adventures and explorations need to happen at the speed of our children and that while you may have conscious, or subconscious aims in mind, they do not.

Too often I have found myself becoming frustrated when we have set out on a mini-adventure to see a certain thing (e.g. a waterfall) or reach a certain point (e.g. a lookout point) only to have it cut short for various reasons and we never reach said waterfall/viewpoint etc.

Why do I get frustrated? Firstly, I’m only human. As adults, more often than not when we set off on an adventure, however big or small, we have a destination in mind. This may be traversing a country from tip to toe, or may just be walking up to a certain spot that you want to share with your children.

However, small children can quickly become cold, tired or, if you let them, bored. They may even start arguing between themselves, resulting in a whole lot of unnecessary upset and parental stress! Yes, exploring with wee ones is all about expecting the unexpected.

This is why I have begun to try really hard to shift my adult-minded approach to mini-adventures to think of them as periods of time, rather than reaching a certain point or getting from A to B.

Finding nooks and crannies to hide and explore are really what it's all about.

Finding nooks and crannies to hide and explore are really what it's all about.

When we head out for a woodland adventure, I’ll get the children packed up in their ‘zoot suits’ and welly boots, have some ‘snack’ in my bag (fruit to start with, then mini-chocolatey stuff to come later to keep up spirits as they tire) and usually set off with my objective in mind e.g. ‘we’re going to see the waterfall’. Note, I say my objective. As far as they’re concerned, we’re just going to play and explore in the woods.

Every part of the woods, or an outdoor exploration is as exciting as the next, if you help them with imagination and games and stories etc. So, it matter little to them whether you’re trying to get to that waterfall, or reach a certain point, they just want to explore and play in their surroundings and this WILL take a long time. Walking at adult speed is not possible unless you want to a) impose an ‘adult-led’ adventure or b) want children who’ll quickly dislike the idea of having outdoor adventures if it means they’re getting dragged and schlepped about at adult speed.

As long as you, the adult, is allowing the adventure to happen at their pace and are willing to turn back as soon as they’re cold/ tired/hungry (this can happen in the blink of an eye – no, seriously!) and to undertake portage of said children, then you’ve had a great adventure.

Young children are interested in time in the outdoors, less-so about reaching certain points. That’s how we adults approach these things and, quite probably, is how we miss out on a lot of the details around us in the outdoors.

To enjoy your adventures with young children, slow down, let go of your sense of objective and travel at child’s speed. Wander with them, daunder* with them and wonder with them. Trust me, you’ll all feel much happier.

Scots: To stroll, to saunter, to walk aimlessly, idly, or uncertainly, to wander.

Ryan is this blog's Family Adventure Editor. Ask him questions or suggest future article topics in the comments below.

This fairy door which prompted a lot of imagination play, but would have been missed if we were going at adult speed.

This fairy door which prompted a lot of imagination play, but would have been missed if we were going at adult speed.

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