With the groundhog seeing his shadow and predicting six more weeks of winter, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to put a hold on the winter-bashing and share a beautiful post, written and photographed by the amazing Angie Mahlke, all about embracing your inner child this winter and having a perfect snow day with your kids. We know winter can be a tough time for parents – with temperatures plummeting outside, kids cooped up in the house and germs everywhere – but today we want to remind you how special and amazing winter can be through a child’s eyes. If this post doesn’t motivate you to get out all your winter gear and brave the elements for some good old fashioned fun, I don’t know what will! Enjoy!
As a Minnesota native, all I know is brutally long, cold winters. Winter can start in November and run through April, sometimes even May. Winter is a child’s dream come true: a playground full of white, fluffy stuff to sled down or sculpt into snowmen and forts. A blank canvas of possibility. I spent many hours as a kid outside in the winter, bundled up in layers so thick it was an exercise in strength and agility just to walk. As a kid, those things never bothered me or slowed down my curiosity for new adventures.
But somewhere along the way, the years have muddied my view on this season. As a parent, winter can feel like an imprisonment. We spend long months inside, the walls of our house our jail cell. The kids run wild inside, their voices echoing and booming, my nerves rattled. They itch to go outside. They don’t see a frozen land, miles upon miles of white nothingness. Instead they see nature’s playground, countless activities awaiting them.
When I discard my tainted adult perspective and adopt their mindset, I’m taken back to my childhood days. When we get outside, despite the cold and damp and thousands of minutes of preparation to get us there, I remember what an amazing experience winter can be. We plop onto a fresh white plot of ground, flailing our arms and legs to create heavenly wings, and then balance precariously onto one side to get up without ruining our work of art—snow angels.
We scoop up heavy wet snow, the best kind for sculpting, and begin the process of creating a snowman. Scoop and smear, scoop and smear, until we form a lumpy ball for the body. Repeat the process for the head. Then we rummage around for items to be turned into body parts, maybe even run inside for winter accessories to dress the snowman. We name him. Ted. Fred. Olaf. Or simply Snowman. You must name him.
Days pass, weeks even, and we will check on him through a window, gauging whether he’s melting or surviving. In a particularly cold spell, the snowman might last a whole month. Eventually, we’ll go back out and collect the scarf and hat that sit where Ted or Fred or Olaf once was.
When I tap into my childhood spirit and forget the way the cold freezes my boogers on impact or the way the wind takes my very breath away, we will grab the sleds and find the nearest hill. We will take turns WHEEEEing our way down the hill, over and over again, our breathing becoming heavy from the exercise of climbing back up the hill each time.
Or we will cross the street to the big snow mountain made by the snowplows, a dumping ground turned snow fortress. We’ll climb to the top and slide down. Again and again. We’ll take cover behind it as a brother launches a snowball at us. Duck and hide. We’ll perch atop it, throwing snowballs onto the sleds below, an impromptu game born.
When I forget about the search for matching mittens, the struggle to cram feet into boots, the protests as the scarves get tied tightly around their faces…when I focus less on the process of getting us outside and more on the experience of being out in nature, then magic is made. It’s all in a change of perspective, and it’s always worth it.
So bundle up and get yourself and the kids outside. Enjoy the magic of winter through the eyes of a child. Trust me, you won’t regret it and neither will they. And, just remember, there’s always hot cocoa and marshmallows afterwards.
What was your favorite winter activity as a child?
I’m Angie: wife, stay-at-home-mom of three wild hyenas, an introvert with a creative itch that needs to be scratched. My creative outlets comes in the form of photography, writing, scrapbooking, crafting with my kids and sewing. We call Minnesota our home and are always on the lookout for kid-friendly things to do as a family for all seasons.