Winter is my most and least favorite season. I love snow, coats, cute beanies, roaring fires, and Christmas lights. But winter is unbearable for one major reason – getting kids dressed, bundled up, and out the door every day. I hate remembering hats/gloves/scarves/coats on top of every other item we need for a full day of school and activities, and forcing squirming kids into these restrictive items adds so much extra time to my day, precious minutes that could otherwise be spent sleeping or watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon. Once everyone is properly bundled, it’s time to load kids into the van, and the struggle starts all over again. Coats have to be removed, gloves get lost under seats, and where did Hayden’s hat go? After seven years, I will admit I’ve gotten less strict about wrapping my kids up too tight and I’ve learned some tricks to make things run more smoothly, but I’m always glad to ditch the socks and shoes for sandals!
Here are my top tips for making the winter bundling blues a little easier:
- Dress in layers
- Kids need to be able to play freely even in the colder months, so keep clothing as unrestrictive as possible. My kids wear lots of jeans, play pants, and athletic pants, as well as long-sleeved shirts or light sweaters. Then, depending on the weather, I may add a hoodie or sweatshirt. After that, we layer on the cold-weather gear as needed.
- Keep in mind ease of removal. For younger kids, heavy outer layers are hard to take off, so keep them in easy-to-remove zip hoodies and sweaters, or single-layer long sleeved shirts.
- Remember also that it is just as uncomfortable to be overly warm as it is to be cold. Follow your kids lead – if they only want to wear one layer under their coats, that’s fine! They know how they feel, so trust them to let you know if they are too hot or too cold.
- Practice car seat safety
- Dressing in layers makes car seat safety a snap. When your child is in the car seat, the straps should be tight to the body. Bulky or puffy coats prohibit tightening the straps, so it is not safe for kids to wear coats while strapped into the car seat. Instead, have your kids take off their coats while in the car and wear them backwards (like a blanket) after they are buckled securely and appropriately.
- You can also invest in specific products to keep kids warm and buckled safely. This website offers a list of products you can buy for car seat warmth, such as ponchos and seat covers, while also offering product reviews and safety ratings: http://thecarseatlady.com/cold-weather-tips/
- Don’t underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned car blanket! We keep a few small, warm blankets in the car, and now that my kids are all old enough, they each get a blanket to wear after they are buckled in properly. Works like a charm 😉
- Make sure other caregivers are following your rules
- Grandparents, aunts/uncles, and babysitters can all be wonderful caregivers for our children. But they may question why we do things the way we do, especially when they worry our precious babies are too cold or that we are being overly protective. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground! State your opinions clearly and firmly, and hold to those boundaries. Don’t allow different perspectives to compromise your child’s safety or comfort. It is better for a child to be chilly for a moment or two than to be unsafe in a car seat.
- Loosen up
- Above all else, remember that this is one season in a life filled with many of them. The winds will warm, ice will thaw, and spring will come again. So when you feel discouraged, or like you just can’t stand to locate one more errant mitten, just close your eyes and remind yourself of all the other parents struggling right along with you. We are all just doing our best until we can we can make like Olaf and enjoy summer.
Written by Emily Koeltzow