I know I’ve said this quite a few times on the blog and I’m sorry if it’s becoming repetitive and annoying, but I just moved to Alaska. I love it here, so I tend to talk about it a lot. We live in North Pole, Alaska, which is about the center of the state.
We love where we live because it gets warmer in the summer than other places in Alaska, but in the winter it also gets way colder. For example, in January our average HIGH temperature is -1°F! Brrrr. The policy at the elementary schools in the area is to send kids out to recess until it gets colder than -20 degrees! So, there are many times my kids have played outside at school when it was -19 degrees. They aren’t even bothered slightly by the cold weather, it’s still recess to them and I’ve stopped being surprised by how cold their recess is. The thing that surprises me is when they come home and it was too cold for recess.
So, it’s cold here, but we still get outside. In a way, it’s important for us to get out because cabin fever is real and sometimes thirty minutes outside is just the thing to getting us out of a slump. It’s safe to say that we’ve learned a thing or two about staying warm and I want to share a few of those with you. I know our climate is probably a lot colder than yours, but these are tips you can use for whatever winter weather you are experiencing.
1. Layer up!
Layers are important in the cold, but watch the amount of layers. You want your kids to be warm, but not sweating because sweating can make them colder. If you have a good quality coat you won’t need as many layers. I always start with a layer of thermal underwear because they are moisture wicking and great with heat retention. I believe there are places to splurge on winter gear and place to save. Thermal underwear is a good place to save some money. We’ve done expensive thermals and cheap thermals all with great results. You can also find thermal tops with turtle necks, which are nice, but not necessary if your other gear keeps your neck warm.
Add a long sleeve shirt on top of the thermal layer and if it’s extra cold a fleece sweatshirt on top of that and you’re good to go. My boys wear jeans over the thermals because they have waterproof snow pants (more on that below).
There is so much I could say about socks, which is weird, but true. Socks are so important to keeping your kids’ sweet little piggies warm and dry. Here are the important things to remember about socks. 1. When it is cold, cotton socks are your enemy. 2. Wool socks are the way to go, but they are hard to find for kids. 3. Layering is a great idea, but not for socks. If you wear more than one pair your feet might actually get colder.
You can usually find kid’s wool socks at stores that sell outdoor gear or you can find them online. I know they are expensive, but they are so much better at keeping feet dry and dry feet are warm feet. Believe me. Wool socks last awhile, so stock up when they go on clearance at the end of the winter season and save them for the next season.
I can’t even begin to stress how important good boots are. We have tried a few different brands with no luck. My boys would come home from school every single day with wet boots. I started sticking them upside down on sticks by the fireplace each night just so they were dry by the time they needed them again for school the next day. It was a pain! Three weeks ago we switched to Bogs insulated boots and they have been heaven sent. The first day my boys wore them they were so excited to tell me how warm their feet were at recess.
There are so many things I like about the boots. Of course, the fact that they are 100% waterproof and keep my kids’ feet dry and warm is the number one reason. The boots that my kids have on are all comfort rated from temperatures to -30°F! That’s important for us here because our temperatures often dip down to -30 in the winter!
I also love that they are sleek and not chunky and clunky like some snow boots. They come in so many adorable and fun prints so you can easily find boots that fit your kids’ personalities.
My kids are wearing:
Here are some of my other favorite prints:
Find more at Bogs Footwear.
4. Waterproof snow pants
We get bib overalls just because they don’t fall down, but you can choose a snowsuit, bibs or snow pants. Just make sure they are waterproof. I have been happy with cheap snow pants and expensive snow pants and even hand-me-down snow pants, so this may be somewhere you choose to save a little money. Because my kids wear layers, have a great coat and boots they have never complained about their legs being cold. If they aren’t waterproof, on the other hand, whatever your kids are wearing underneath will get wet quickly after they start playing outside. Another reason I like overall snow pants is you are usually safe to buy them in a larger size because you can tighten them up. You can save some money, by getting a few years use out of the snow pants.
If you can find waterproof snow pants with reinforced knees and bottom, snatch them up. They will last a lot longer.
Here is something to remember about coats. Puffy does not necessarily mean that it’s warm. You want to find a coat that is insulated. That will cut down on the bulk of the coat and keep you a lot warmer. We love these Alpine Action Winter Jackets from Columbia. They are waterproof and have a thermal reflective lining which helps them breath and stay warm.
6. Mittens or gloves
There are so many options for gloves and they might be the most frustrating winter item you will own because chances are your kids will lose them at some point. (Mitten clips will help keep them clipped to their coat to make them harder to lose.) Your child may want gloves, but just keep in mind that mittens are actually warmer because the fingers stay close together. Whichever style you go for make sure they are waterproof. Just like snow pants and boots, you want them to stay dry because wet gloves means frozen fingers. My kids all own these Gordini mittens and we have been so happy with them.
I just discovered balaclavas this year and I love them. If you don’t know what they are, that is okay, I didn’t know and the first time I asked about them at the store I asked for baklava. Baklava is a Greek dessert and balaclavas cover the face, head and neck. They are so nice and convenient because you are getting three products out of one. If you can’t find a balaclava then you could go with a beanie and a neck warmer. Just don’t forget something to cover the head!
During winter the outdoors are enjoyed the most when you are properly dressed AND it is also a lot safer. Have fun outside, but don’t forget to bundle your littles and yourself!