Getting kids outside in crappy weather

A popular Norwegian quote says that "there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."


The Norwegians are well known for their year-round love of the outdoors, unlike us North Americans who run inside at the tiniest drizzle. As a Canadian, I've been there - I know how hard it is to encourage some children to get outside on the best of days. Add snow, sleet and ice to the mix, and it can be extra tough.

We've had our share of yucky weather here in Ottawa, with a huge February melt and regular freezing rain. Although this may signal an early Spring (yay!) it's been tough for those who enjoy winter activities like skiing and snowshoeing. The ice has also made it hard to walk within the city and my daughter has taken a couple of big falls.

When I start getting depressed about weather, I always stop and try to observe my children. Here are a few things to consider when trying to encourage more outdoor play.

Kids don't care much about weather

Caveat: as long as they're dressed well! This early spring means you need to be prepared for anything. Plastic ponchos can keep kids warm and dry. Switching to rain boots instead of snow boots can result in cold toes, so I would suggest you buy some packs of disposable foot warmers. Pop those into your child's rain boot and they'll be good to splash in the puddles without risk of wet and cold feet!

I find it's often the adults that are running inside at the slightest threat of bad weather, and this kind of behaviour gets passed onto our kids. School is also tough, as administrators keep the kids indoors for recess for so many different types of weather (too cold, too hot, too rainy, too icy etc.) Try to encourage your child to play outdoors after school if this is the case!

Kids find joy in ANY weather!

While I'm cursing my way down the icy street, my 5 year-old is meandering slowly behind me. She is fascinated by the melting water under the ice; the air bubbles slowly rising to the surface. She has a great time poking holes in the snow with a stick she found. My daughter doesn't see the negative things that I tend to see: the dog poop, the yucky snow, the risk of falling on the ice.

We can learn a lot by observing our children and taking their lead. Slowing down helps me to hear the birds, observe the changes in the clouds and accept the weather as it is. Because let's face it - weather is ALWAYS changing and it's never in our control. We just need to make the best of it, and our children can point us in the right direction

Get out of the city

I love my city life, but as mentioned above, I find the changes in seasons can bring a lot of challenges. Lately it's been all of the melting and freezing (and freezing rain!) that's made my daily walks with the dog a lot harder.

Consider finding time to get away from the messy streets and head out to some green space. The snow may still be a bit icy, but I guarantee you won't get splashed by a passing car ;) Some fun ideas here in Ottawa include:

Mer Bleue

Hiking Trails

Parc Omega

Conservation Areas

If you're looking for an amazing program that will take kids outdoors (regardless of the weather!) check out Earth Path. My daughter has been doing forest school with them all winter, and she comes home exhuasted and soooo happy. They have March Break and Summer Camps as well as weekly programming!