Getting a 2-year-old ready to go flitz around in the snow is not for the weak of heart. It’s more like a production, one on a scale Cecil B. DeMille would be proud of. I call it Snowy Time Fun, and now that I’ve had a few instances of it with my daughter—with mixed results I might add—I can better break down the necessary steps involved. So follow me and discover the six crucial stages of snowy fun readiness that would make the launch of a Saturn V rocket sound easy!
Stage One: Determining Readiness
The first rule of getting your child outside in the snow is making sure she actually wants to go outside in the snow. Do not underestimate the importance of this step! Everything hinges on this determination. You don’t want to go through the following five stages without adequately ascertaining your youngster’s willingness to put up with everything that goes with Snowy Time Fun. Trust me. Starting this process only to pull back halfway through is a prescription for parental hair loss. And I like my hair. I’m sure you do too.
So if little Jimmy is screaming to go outside, make sure he really does. Try subjecting him to the outside cold by opening the door and see what he does. Or find his snow pants and gauge his reaction to possibly putting them on. Or just ask if he’s sure. Multiple times. Either way, you get the idea. Be confident he’s on board before taking the plunge. You have been warned.
Stage Two: Getting Snow Clothes on Your Child
Great, little Susie is ready to go play in the snow. Stage One is complete. Your next step revolves around clothing, because Snowy Time Fun requires lots and lots of clothing. Stuff like snow pants, thick socks, mittens, snow boots, and hats. It’s a lot, and it’s probably scattered all over the place too. Rule Number One: gather all the kid’s clothing upfront, before dressing her up in any of it. (It’s also not a bad idea to get your own handy too, as you’ll see when we get to Stage Three.) You don’t want to be scrambling for a second boot when your kid’s already mostly dressed. Now once you have the clothing on hand, it’s time to dress the little bugger.
This is the tough part.
If your child is like mine, she’ll likely resist you every step of the way. The result is a ferociously angry child flailing around in a fit of festive fabric like a rabid rag doll. During this Open Doorway to Hell it’s important to remember to:
- Not let your child hurt herself and…
- Not let your brain go completely insane.
I’ve never tried meditation, but I imagine it would help here. You’ve got to stuff those frayed nerve endings deep down inside of your body and not let your newly feral child get under your skin while you strap her into her snowsuit and get those boots and mittens on without her tossing them across the room and running away. Just power through the best you can. Take it one step at a time and YOU WILL MAKE IT OUT ALIVE. You have my word.
Stage Three: Getting Snow Clothes on Yourself
Now that your child is ready to go outside, you need to follow suit! Seems easy enough until you realize that she has what I like to refer to as Negative Patience. You see, she’s all up in her snow gear. It’s hot in there and uncomfortable. She can’t hold things in those gloves, it’s hard to walk, and that hat is beginning to itch. All the while you’re struggling to get yourself geared up, which takes time even for the best of us. This results in whining, screaming and stomping. In other words, rampant unbridled chaos. Not pretty! So hurry up.
Now sure, you can get yourself dressed up a bit in advance of Stage Two, but you can’t do too much. The more snow clothing you have on, the harder it is to dress up your child. It simply gets in the way and leads to more frustration. If you can strike a nice balance, that’s great. But if you’re like me, just plow through Stage Three as fast as you can, beg your child to be patient, reward her if she is, and dive head first into Stage Four.
Stage Four: Here We Go into the Wild White Yonder
Congratulations. You’ve made it to the fun part! Now results can vary wildly here in Stage Four, depending on a multitude of factors—things like whether:
- Other children are around for entertainment
- It’s snowing or there’s freezing rain falling from the sky
- There’s a lot or a little snow on the ground
- Ice rears its ugly head
- The snow is the good stuff that packs together. You know, for things like snowmen and snowballs
Those may be fairly obvious but a sixth factor that I was unprepared for is your child’s prior experience with snow. Last winter saw the least amount of snowfall in my lifetime. My daughter, who was one at the time, never got to find out what the white stuff was really all about. A year later, and less than a week ago, snow finally fell from the sky. She was excited about going outside at first, but once out there, she became timid. It was hard for her to walk in the snow, even on a shoveled surface. She would gingerly take one step at a time, saying words of caution in her tiny 2-year-old voice like, “Be careful!” She wouldn’t walk in the deep snow either. I made the mistake of plopping her down into it, which resulted in a high-pitched note of sound the CIA might want to consider using on Al Qaeda suspects. She had a small plastic shovel too, but her mittens made it so difficult for her to hold it, the playtime tool soon became more of a liability and source of frustration than anything.
Overall I’d say it took a good thirty minutes before she was starting to feel merely comfortable in the snow. But after an hour she still wasn’t ready to flop in a snow bank, make a snow angel, or walk in the deep stuff. Her comfort level will rise as the winter goes on, I’m sure, but for now she’s a timid thing. At least that offered me some much needed respite after the fury of Stages Two and Three.
Stage Five: Re-Entry
Not much to say here, except to do the re-entry as fast as possible. Get those snow pants, gloves, hats, and boots off. Chop chop! Don’t dilly dally here, folks. Odds are your child will be tired and possibly grumpy about going back inside. Like with the prep stages, just power through it. Good luck.
Stage Six: Aftermath
So where are we at now? Is little Jimmy or Susie tired and ready for a nap? Or is a temper tantrum taking center stage on the kitchen floor? Either way, do your best as a parent to handle the situation appropriately. And then, when you get a chance, whether it be for five minutes or two hours, do what you need to relax. You’ve earned it.
Going out in the snow can be great fun, but it can also be massively stress inducing. Just remember that no matter what happens, fun is vital, not only for your child, but for yourself as well. So just power through the bad parts and soak up the good parts. No one said parenting a child in the wintertime was easy, but you don’t need to make it harder either. So treat yourself, as you did your child. You’ll be glad you did.
*Much credit to my friend Erica for the offhanded remark that resulted in this title!