The Clark family lives in the Great White North and can be found in down jackets and wool hats most of the year. As a family, they carve out big chunks of time for self-propelled adventures. They dress for winter whether it is on cycling adventures in Patagonia, or when paddling across the high arctic. Find out why Outside Online called the Clarks “The Most Adventurous Family in the US”. We asked Dan about his sure-fire techniques to keeping his kids warm and smiling all winter long during any adventure. Here are his tips for every age:
How many of us dream of a carefree winter vacation away from winter and our children? A week of relaxation at the beach is one solution to the cabin fever that sets in during the dark months of winter, but there are other options closer to home. Why not bundle up the whole family and be active this winter skiing, skating or snowshoeing?
Here are a few simple tips garnered from a decade of family adventures in the white stuff.
Age 0: Timing is Everything
If changing a diaper or breastfeeding outside on a frosty day isn’t your idea of fun, make sure you start your adventure clean, fed and sleepy. Nap time can be a great time for a winter walk or snowshoe. Babies are most comfortable snuggled next to a parent, so leave behind the stroller and opt for a baby sling of some kind. Toss the baby in a snuggly, and zip up a Farnsworth Jacket or something similar. Pick an insulated jacket with a relaxed fit that will comfortably wrap around baby and parent.
Age 1: Snuggled in Comfort
Toddlers can be a bit hard to fit inside a jacket, so a stroller on skis may be your ticket to winter exploration. Be aware that kids get cold fast, so build them a plush cocoon inside your favorite stroller or sled. A sleeping bag like the Little Red 15 will allow you an extra hour of cross country skiing in the cold, especially if you put a few hot water bottles in the bottom.
Ages 2-3: Patience Pays Off
Once your toddler is off on his/her own adventures, be prepared to play games within sight of the lodge. We enjoyed a few seasons learning balance on skis and socializing in the staging area in front of the lodge. Young kids don’t have much endurance, so make short forays outside and then warm up inside with a snack and hot drink before heading back out. Know that the time you put in at this age will make a huge difference teaching gross motor skills and instilling a love of winter in the years to come.
Ages 4-5: Mini-Athletes
Once kids start moving on skis, skates and snowshoes, there is no limit to the fun you can have as a family. Your imagination may be the only limitation! Keep in mind that kids still need a little help at this age. We continued to use our stroller as an option for a tired kid, either inside or towing behind. This allowed us to go further afield and explore places beyond the range of kids travelling entirely under their own power. Kids that are working hard often get too warm in traditional snowsuits, so mid-weight insulated jackets like the Ice House Hoodie are a good compromise for many active winter sports.
Ages 6+: Try to Keep Up
Kids that are six and older suddenly become capable athletes. Once our kids reached this age, they started seeking out the jumps and consistently pushing our comfort level. They have had a few spectacular crashes, but a soft cushion of white is a forgiving medium and they usually come up snow-covered and smiling.
Call to Winter Adventure:
It is never too early to get kids outside in winter. These curious little beings are up for almost any adventure, especially if it means spending some quality time with their parents. They will be happier for the time outside in the white stuff, and so will you!