nature school project- raising kids who love winter
This week at Goose Eye Wilderness Camp, Martin sees that his friend Sam is feeling tired of winter and missing her home in Arizona. He hesitaties to tell her that there are still several weeks of winter left, but luckily Helmut, the apprentice from Germany, knows exactly how to show Sam the way to appreciate the gifts of Winter.
We are joined by Nicoletta of Wilder Child, who is sharing tips on how to raise children who love winter.
As difficult as it is for me to admit it, I have not always had the best relationship with winter. For most of my adult life, I’ve lived in the Midwest half heartedly participating in the season. It’s sad when I think about those times now – six months out of every year is a long time to be essentially checked out of nature.
Becoming a mother sent me tumbling down the rabbit hole into a whole new world. My life suddenly became about working through issues so they wouldn’t manifest in my childrens’ lives (no pressure!). And maybe it seems like a first world problem, but for me that disconnect was a symptom of a much bigger issue.
When you encourage your children to fall in love with winter, you teach them about happiness, perception and the power they have to create their own world.
So are you ready? Here are five tips for raising cold season warriors:
1) Fake it Till You Make It
Before I could help my kids, I had to repair my relationship with winter. There’s a lot of research to suggest that the “fake it till you make it” strategy works. Instead of being delusional, I prefer to think of it as harnessing the power of my imagination. This might not be for everyone one, but it definitely helped me rewire. In fact, I didn’t even notice the cross over moment when I actually started blissing out on the season.
Pro-tip: I recommend starting this whole journey out with a vision board. Here is a wonderful resource on creating vision boards and the transformative role they can play.
2) Create a Cool Culture
Be THAT family. You know the one I’m talking about. They are on an epic adventure together and a lot of it seemingly takes place in the snow. Growing up we never had gear or participated in winter sports. Some of that was because of our economic status at the time, but another part of it was just mindset. Looking back I could have just thrown on three pairs of pants from The Salvation Army and headed outside for a microadventure under the frozen stars. Have FUN, create your own traditions. It’s all possible.
Pro-tip: Winter training starts in the spring. The easiest way to get the kids out in the winter is to establish the habit in the warmer months.
3) Hang out with Winter Lovers
When it comes to getting out in nature (and winter in particular), there’s definitely some truth to the quote by Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It gets pretty cozy by our wood burning stove in Michigan, and if we aren’t actively hanging around other families who are motivated, it definitely affects our odds of getting out there. Plus if my daughters see other kids enjoying themselves in the cold, it’s going to have an impact.
Pro-tip: I have had a lot of luck with Meetup.com in terms of finding wild-minded families. Also, check out Hike it Baby to join or organize a hike in your area!
4) Dress for Success
The key is to create positive associations with the cold, but that’s almost impossible if the kids are in pain or uncomfortable. During my daughter’s first winter, I made the strategic error of buying gloves that didn’t go up high enough or cinch at the wrist. Within minutes the snow got in, her hands were freezing and she was done. Here is an intro to layering (aka creating human burritos).
Pro-tip: For the extra littles, get yourself all ready and dressed first, then put all their clothes on. Trust me on this one. Still having trouble getting them out? Here are some tips on getting them outside when they don’t want to go!
5) Create the Context
Winter is not arbitrary, it plays a crucial role in the overall health of the ecosystem. The more familiarity children with concepts like hibernation, migration and eating seasonally, the more aligned they’ll be with the season. It’s emotional too. As we observe nature together, it gives us the chance to point out to our daughter the need for rest and renewal within our own lives.
Pro-tip: You can help children create context by doing listening activities.
More than anything, I want my kids to understand that so much of life is a reflection of their internal state. All I can do is give them the inspiration and hope that they choose connection and joy.
About the Author
Nicolette is a mother and homesteader and writes the blog Wilder Child
Martin & Sylvia Nature School
As the summer comes to an end, Momma, Martin and Sylvia reflect on all the things they loved about the summer season: hikes, walks along the beach, blueberry picking, climbing trees and collecting bird feathers. Then Momma suggests that they keep the summer outdoor fun alive all year long: “Every Thursday, lets have Nature School!” And so Martin joins the Goose-eye Wilderness School, and Sylvia and her friend Sophia create a Nature home-school. From wild craft cooking to outdoor games to building projects to tree identification, Nature School will be a year of unfolding learning and fun.