Saturday, 28 February 2015

Kids in wet weather

Or how to make a waterproof knight

I’m always surprised that we are practically the only ones in the playground on a wet day. So here’s my bit to encourage people to go outside in what is seen as bad weather.
It's just bad PR.

Wet days are fun days!

Admittedly, only if you are wearing the right gear! Irrespective of physical age.

Having a son I have soon learned that it is much like having a big dog, a husky for instance: they need a lot of walking. Min 1 hours outdoors per day I’ve found, better still 2-3 hours, or longer. Otherwise we are both climbing the walls. Cabinfever sets in early.

So here is what I learned from my upbringing in the far north. Not going out to play on a rainy day was not an option, as there were too many of them!

The real key to stay warm is layering cotton and wool under waterproofs. A rule of thumb for both kids and adults is 2 layers under the coats in weather down to 5-0 degree C, 3 layers in sub zero. Minimum 1 of these should be wool. It’s rare but silk is actually very warm. It sounds extravagant, but if you can get knitted silk go for it, as an adult it is an investment. I got a small silk hand-me-down body for Digger when he was 18 months. It worked wonders and didn’t itch him.


Kids Essentials:
  • Woolen long sleeved Tee
  • Woolen long johns or tights
  • Sweater
  • Rain coat
  • Wanders/water proof trousers
  • Wellies

The trousers go over the wellies and those little elastic bands on bottom the trousers go under the wellies. If you then put the coat over the trousers, then you have created a knight in waterproofs. I’ve seen Digger sit in a puddle up to his waist and remain dry inside.

For toddlers, the all-in-one waterproofs come in very handy.

Kids optional extras for weather of 5 to -5 degree C:
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Woolen socks
  • Trousers
  • Cotton long sleeves Tee
  • Thin coats
  • Gloves (although Digger hates them so I've stopped bothering)

This kind of outfit can be used for kids up to 10 year old. 
Although it may be difficult to persuade a girl/boy over 7 into this attire if no one else is wearing this but toddlers in the playground. That said, it is well worth having full body waterproofs for any age. 

Waterproofs should last kids longer than you yourself are prepared to stay outdoors. 

All this said, I still bring a dry spare set of clothing for my 3 year old. It only takes one leak from one place to reduce the fun considerably in cold weather.

Warning: it will take longer than usual to unpack your kid to get to the loo in time.  Be prepared for some some temporary set backs if you are potty training.

Now all this prep is worthless if you, the adult, is getting cold. So here’s my tips that should have you snuggly warm while standing in an icy puddle in the torrential rain for a good hour or 2.

I focus on keeping my feet warm, and have recently become the owner of the awesome Sorel boots – the four wheel drive of boots. My long rain coat is also a life saver. With this on I feel like a mummy knight.

Adult essential:
  • WARM FEET in good water proof boots
  • Long waterproof coat with pockets
  • Scarf
  • Layering of cotton and woolen layers

Adult optional:
  • Hat
  • Gloves

What to do?
As for what to do in all this wet wet… Gosh… anything!

Cycling/scooting through puddles, jumping in puddles, digging in the mud with sticks. Nature changes so much from wet to dry. It is great sensory stuff.

All toys that are great in sand are also great in water. 
Think bath tub...

Diggers, diggers, diggers.
Scoops, rakes, buckets.

And sticks!

The great outdoors are fantastic (nearly) No-free zones. It's ok to ram a stick in to the ground, and to shout as loud as you can, to jump in puddles, splashing everywhere, and generally to get really really messy.

Expect your kid to get proper muddy. But then again, everything but the kid can go in the washing machine.

The last key is food
Good big bowl of porridge in the morning, and a lovely cup of hot chocolate when back it inside. Enjoyed with red cheeks and a generous dollop of whipped cream.

These are heavenly memories for me.

Memories that I am hoping to create for my son too.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

digger's day in drawing

Recently, I've started drawing out Digger's days. I thought it may help him keep track of the day. Especially if we are doing something out of the ordinary. It helps if I draw such a new event into the routine of the rest of the day. The version featured here is a simplified, generic version. No play date, no party, and also no screen time, which we have been trying to cut down on. So we drawn no attention to it. (I made the mistake of drawing it on there early on...)

Usually, we sit down just after breakfast and map the day out. Digger loves it, and it has taught me that even though you might think he leads a quiet life - still at home with me or his childminder - then he leads a very busy life. He has a lot of tasks to get through. Every day.

I start where we always start: in our parental bed, 'cause that where it all starts. By Digger climbing in to jump on us 'wakey, wakey, morning time morning time!' And so the day commences...

We make our way down to the kitchen. Some more awake than others.

We still bottle feed him. A little man who is learning so much, who is so good at so many things, who is growing so very fast, and has had the start in life that he has, needs to be little and helpless too. He needs to know that that it is not only ok to regress, we all enjoy these quiet moments of catching up with the time when we weren't yet a family. It is moments of true undiluted intimacy. Of bliss.

So we hold his 3 year old self on our laps as a baby. At the moment he pretends to be a baby dinosaur (for the longest time he was a baby cat, and we were mummy/daddy cat). Then we make breakfast, and from there, we all mill into the bathroom where we play musical shower and tooth brushing. This is by far the best way of getting Digger out the PJ and on with the day. In fact it works like magic to draw the clothes. This used to be such a drag and could take hours. Now it's much more of a doddle.

Usually we are lucky that there is time for some 1:1 play. Usually it is with Duplo/Lego. And usually it is with Daddy. This helps top Digger up with daddy before he leaves for work. I can then take over for a little while, and if it is a day with child minder, this 1:1 makes hand over all the easier.

Next, we scoot/bike/walk/run to the park and the playground. Often we meet a friend. Again drawing his outdoor coat, scarf and shoes makes it a doddle to put it on. It was not so a week ago.

Sometime we have lunch in the park but mostly we return home to have lunch.

Digger loves spotting our front door on the drawing. A simple number on a door. He knows that when we set out, we will back again, and now he knows roughly when. He proudly sings our address aloud.

Once back home it is quiet time. We read together, or do something quiet in the same room. Now that Digger has dropped his daytime nap, I still need a bit of time to open a newspaper, or write an email, or just rest my ears (he is the original chatterbox!).

When it is over, it is time to play again. At the moment we play 'dinosaurs in the den' a lot. We build a den for human-sized dinos. Inside it we build structures out of anything for toy dinosaurs. Or we draw them on a black board inside. Or we read about them. The favourite at the moment is the pterodactyl. I'm the T Rex to his pterodactyl.

Dinner is usually prepared together. Digger loves chopping veg and stirring the pots. Daddy returns home, and we can all eat together.

Afterwards there is more time to play. At this time Digger usually favours soft balls or dancing. James Brown is very good to do in tights - if you didn't know, you can do a mean slide and spin in socks on wooden floors. At this hour we try to squeeze as much energy out of Digger as humanly possible.

Wind down time is running up to the bathroom where we may have a big bath, but will definitely cream up - I write his number of choice on his tummy which usually provides enough for his whole body. At the moment I am doing a lot of '10's. Then an adult brush his teeth. At the moment this is done by singing like some animal - also of his choice - to the melody of happy birthday, for some reason I fail to remember. You've guessed it: I do a lot of dinosaur roaring while toothbrushing.

Milk and stories follows next. Again, warm milk in a baby bottle. Followed by 2-3 books, then light out, 2-3 songs, and if he is still not out, a story from his life so far. A story which starts and ends in his room. And then Daddy's poem in his bed. Since he gave up his day time nap a few weeks ago however we barely make it through the first story. We tuck him in, kiss him and tell him we love him.

Good night.

And then it is grown up time.