I grew up in the Frozen North (otherwise known as the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, home of “lake effect snow”) and summer is my favorite season; I like open windows and city pools and dislike wearing socks. Autumn, admittedly beautiful, has always felt bittersweet as I knew it would be followed by many months of cold, gray days.
Are you feeling gloomy and cooped up just at the thought of the cold weather to come? Here are some tips for making the most of the season with your littles.
(1) Remember — fresh air is good for babies (and helps them to sleep!). In other parts of the world (including chilly Norway), it’s common practice to have little ones sleep outdoors for naps, well bundled up of course. Try to get outside everyday. The sunshine (such as it is) will do you good, as will exercise and fresh air. Put babies in a sling or warmly dressed in a stroller and just hit the road!
(2) See what your local community has to offer for indoor exercise. When my two were little, we attended Gym and Swim at our YMCA. Starting at age six months, kids enjoyed “mommy and me” classes — tumbling and games for the gym portion, and splashing in the warm pool for the swim section. Swimming also wears kids out! And it’s a good way to get out of the house and meet other parents. Look for gyms, yoga studios, and community centers for ideas.
(3) Enjoy a museum or zoo membership. When I was a kid, my dad said he liked to go to the zoo in the winter because “the penguins were out.” Now that I’m a parent, I suspect that he liked that the zoo was often free in the winter — but it is definitely fun to try summertime excursions when things are cheaper and much less crowded. Get a membership to your favorite place so you can just pop in once a week or so, and stay for an hour or two.
(4) Make a mom date for a Target run. The hallowed dream of a solo Target shopping trip may still be down the road for you, but stocking up on diapers and English muffins and socks and cheap cute things is more fun with a friend. If your kids haven’t melted down completely, you can try and grab a quick lunch together, too.
(5) Turn off the screens and turn on the radio (or podcast). It’s easy to get sucked in to screens, especially when the weather is crummy outside — but, it’s also all too easy to feel pretty crummy yourself after too much screen time! Listening to old-fashioned radio can keep you company and provide another adult voice in the house — classical music is soothing and good for growing brains, and dance music is great when it’s time to clean! I also like my Justin Timberlake and Beastie Boys stations on Pandora, while my husband prefers Amazon Music. 8tracks is another great (free!) site with curated playlists.
(6) Visit a local — or not so local — library. Almost every library has a children’s section full of baby board books and toys, and all babies love to watch older children at play. Of course, Story Time starts for the very young as well. Use your library card to take out children’s CDs to listen to in the car — some of our favorites were Snacktime! by Barenaked Ladies and Ella Jenkins sweet old-fashioned sing-alongs.
Just think! It's not a million degrees outside any more, and it's not time for boots and hats and mittens yet -- make the most of the season and find something to enjoy every day.