Most of us love the idea of getting out as a family to enjoy fun in the snow. Snow fun with kids seems pretty easy. It is! As long as you follow these snow fun tips to avoid simple problems and keep snow fun a happy family experience.
Today, we’re working with Merrell Kids to help you get out and have some snow fun!
Snow Fun starts with Finding Snow
Every single person in our big little family was born in Southern California. People thought we were crazy as we started a whole new chapter in our lives by uprooting the entire family and transplanting it to the great Northern state of Idaho. We were told by many locals and former locals that the weather here can be extreme – to say the least. The mountain passes get covered with snow, they said.
As we arrived in the middle of July, it was hard to take them seriously with our days regularly sunny and in the mid to high 80's. I knew I wanted the boys to live in a place with amazing white winters and surely, this would be it. I mean, I had seen pictures. Our search for snow wound up being a bit more involved with strange weather making plausible play areas not as usable.
There are Many Types of Snow
When considering snow fun, please remember a few things. Taking your family out to play in the snow can be improved if you learn the many types of snow. I mean, just about everyone knows to not play with or eat the yellow snow!
Beyond that, though, did you know that snow can go bad? It may not have a written expiration date but when snow is warmed and cooled repeatedly in the midday sun, it will get icy or frosty on the surface from the repeated thawing and freezing. This snow can hurt to play with or just fall down on, as it's rougher and can feel like a slick form of sandpaper. It doesn't stick together well and makes for poor snowmen. That's no fun for the kids.
High altitude snow that falls in extremely cold temperatures might sound like a better option, but that depends on what you want to do it the snow. Last year we spent Christmas at the North Pole. Well, in North Pole Alaska which is near Fairbanks. This place was super SUPER cold. My breath froze on my beard, it was that cold.
There was tons of snow, but I learned that the snow had fallen while it was so cold that it was more of a crystalized water powder that didn't stick together. Like water dust. The kids were totally bummed that they couldn't even make a snowball. On the other hand, the dog sledding was fun.
The perfect kind of snow is snow that falls a little closer to the freezing temperature and at a minimum of at least six inches. This snow is usually great to make snowballs, snow men/snow women, and even go sledding and skiing. This snow is a lot like the perfect cookie. Cooked somewhere between dough and well before crunchy. Nice and gooey. These conditions make snow fun for everyone.
Dress well, Fare well
This one you'd think would be a no brainer. But it's not. Especially to the snow fun novice. The reasons for this are many. Some people may live in regions with snow but until they had kids, spent little time playing in it. Parents may think that equipping children to play in the snow entails pants and a good thick jacket. To be honest, I did this on more than one occasion when we happened upon snow on one of our many many road trips and I hadn't packed for the encounter.
The thing is, though, kids like to play in snow until they're tired OR it gets so cold it hurts. That's the way it is with our boys – and I want to extend their fun.
Layers and Layers for Snow Fun
A great start is skin deep. It starts with the first layer of clothes. I personally like to begin with a basic cotton t-shirt. Chelsea prefers thermals. After that, if the weather is fair and not too wet, a sweatshirt or tight fitting wool shirt. And then, just like a duck's feathers, a waterproof and windproof warm jacket. On the east coast they call this a “coat.”
Put your Pants on, one Leg at a time
So only a few people out there might need to be reminded that shorts are not be the best idea. If you're a tough guy like I was ten years ago on top of a mountain, snowboarding in camouflage cargo shorts while asking Chelsea to marry me: THIS REMINDER IS FOR YOU. I know you're super macho. However, it should go without saying, wearing pants in the snow is a far better choice.
If you plan on spending extended periods of time in the snow, like a day of snowboarding/skiing or dog sledding, then you most likely will want to upgrade to snow pants. For our first Idaho outing, we were just spending a few hours sledding. Our jeans sufficed.
Suited and BOOTED
One of the earliest issues people encounter during a day of snow fun is where they make the most contact with snow. Your feet are – as long as you aren't slipping head over heels – in constant contact with snow. If the snow is just deep enough, it will get on top of your feet as well. When I was a kid, I learned that not only did snow love to stick to my laces, but it loved to melt into my shoe in that spot as well. Then, the cold takes hold and my wet little feet would get so cold I'd have to call it a day.
Chelsea has been hiking with boots from Merrell since she was a teenager. We actually got to meet with Merrell reps at a conference almost a year ago, and our relationship has gotten closer. Now, we ensure that the boys have the very best hiking boots, shoes and sandals so they too can get the most out of life on the trails.
This year, the boys got their very own pair of Merrell Snow Crush Waterproof Boots. For all the time we spent sledding, they loved the way these boots kept their feet warm and dry. They're actually rated to keep little feet warm down to -25 Fahrenheit degrees as they have the M Select® WARM 200G insulation.
What's better, the Merrell Snow Crush Waterproof Boots have an easy toggle closure which makes sealing the boot easy for little ones. One of our kids even forgot to bring socks (dang kids) and he was totally fine playing for hours with this secure warmth on his feet – no snow got through!
Bring a Camera
When your kids are little, snow is basically the same as magic. The looks on their faces say it all. There is joy to be found in just about every inch of it. So make sure to bring a camera to record some of these moments forever. God knows what happens when they turn into teenagers. Bleh.
Give them a Helping Hand
Snow fun is family fun. Being there to help them out takes away a lot of the frustration. I hadn't realized that Ahren (5) and even Olin (8) and Elich (7) hadn't ever used a saucer before. Showing them how to sit on it and hold on hadn't occurred to me until we got out there. They had so much more fun with dad giving them the starting push.
A ten foot hill of snow might as well be a ten mile drop of doom. At least to Ikah (3). Oh, he definitely protested his ascent and even more…the descent. But I didn't let him quit on himself or the experience as a whole. Of course, it helped having Chelsea at the bottom to give him a reassuring hug after he survived the near death drop equivalent to one flight of stairs.
That poor little trooper.
Join in on the SNOW FUN
Life is so much better with mom's arms wrapped around you. Get out there and jump on the sled with them. It's a great way to relive those childhood thrills. It even helps build their confidence and allows them to climb higher and higher. Also, you can show them just how snow balls need to be packed to make the most accurate and durable projectile possible.
Show them who's Boss! Or Not
Ok, so the $5 sled from the local save mart may not have been built to “Dad Specs.” That's most likely why it sent me careening into a bush. That is how I got a chance to teach the boys how to pick a better sled next time. That said, Dad is still the best. At least I got to show them how to use my Merrell snow boots as brakes.
It's Okay to Crash and Burn
An almost guaranteed lesson for kids to learn while out sledding is that, well, you're going to crash at some point. Snow fun also means you learn some. Like how to dust yourself off, get back up, pull your sled up the hill, and slide again. It's also a way to learn to laugh at yourself in front of your friends.
When it comes to snow fun, it's really about spending good quality time with family and friends. All made possible with a few simple preparations. So, as we get deeper and deeper into winter, start thinking about all the fun you might have heading into the snow.
Do you like to have snow fun with friends and family?