KEEN Winter Parenting Hacks
From fluffy powder snow to sparkly, crackly ice, winter is a magical time. It’s called a winter wonderland for a reason, and there’s loads to do with kids outdoors when snow transforms the landscape.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have snow at home or you need to head for the mountains to find it, raising kids to become lifelong snow lovers requires a mix of common sense, patience, and sometimes a little extra ingenuity to keep the fun on track.
In our experience, knowing when to pivot is as important as having the right winter clothes and boots to keep kids warm. Here are our top tips for winter fun with kids.
Always Be Ready to Improvise!
Have you ever set your sights on a sledding destination or a snow play spot only to find out that the snow conditions aren’t what you hoped they would be or the parking is all filled up? It doesn’t matter how old you are; it’s a bummer when Plan A is foiled by Mother Nature or your fellow snow lovers.
That’s where improvisation can save the day. It’s all about the backup plan! Ideally, Plan B is as easy as continuing to the next snow play spot. But you might need to consider elevation if snow conditions are the issue, or brainstorm an alternative location based on places you like to visit in the summer that are less well-known as winter play spots.
Kids don’t need groomed trails or designated snow play sites to have fun. In fact, wild and untracked places can actually have more to offer. Think DIY adventure! Try a winter hike, head to your favorite summer park for sledding, or discover the solitude and adventure of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through the woods without a groomed trail.
Short and Sweet Equals Fun
It sounds obvious, but keeping it fun is pretty much the golden rule for outdoor adventure with kids, no matter the time of year. It’s not that skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or building snow forts isn’t going to be fun. It’s about keeping it fun. And in our experience, the best way to keep it fun is to end on a high note. A short-and-sweet experience beats a meltdown any day.
Short and sweet means something a little different to everyone and varies by age group. Regardless, the idea is not to cut off the fun cold turkey, but simply to shift the attention to the next fun thing. It can be as simple as moving from sledding and fort building to hot drinks and snacks before everyone is wet and cold. Or it can mean limiting post-ski lesson runs to just enough time for kids to share the cool new skills they’ve learned and then shifting gears to snow play or the old standby of food and drink.
Of course, you know your kids best. So stay tuned in to the smiles and energy levels with an eye on cueing up Act Two to top off the experience. End the day on a high note.
Sure, it’s parenting 101 — hungry kids are grumpy kids. But it’s not as simple as just always having snacks within reach, though that’s definitely good too. We’re talking about matching the breakfast plan with the activity plan. The more cold temps and exercise involved, the bigger the breakfast and the more snacks required.
If your destination includes a longer drive, it’s important to top up your little adventurers before they hit the snow. If you have ambitious plans for skiing a certain number of runs or reaching the warming hut, lots of little breaks (with snacks) are a game changer for keeping a good attitude and making your goal a reality.
In addition to helping with energy and attitude, snacks should just be part of the experience. They help you slow it down and appreciate the quiet winter landscape so you can focus on enjoying the moment.
Know When to Pivot
The best-laid plans can still go awry. The ultimate tool for successful winter adventures is recognizing when it’s time to pivot and to always be ready to shift gears. Maybe Mother Nature throws you a curveball and the forecast sunshine turns to sideways snow. Or a gear issue leaves you with sore feet or poorly operating equipment. Regardless, it’s time to pivot.
The solution could be as simple as letting go of reaching the warming hut and having hot drinks and snacks on the side of the trail instead before heading back to the car. Or maybe it means putting away the ski gear, moving to a lower elevation area, and pulling out the sleds. Occasionally, it just means laughing off how sometimes the weather just wins, and it’s time to go home while you’re still warm and dry!