Saturday, January 22, 2011

Playing with Kids Outside in the Winter

For our first few years of family life, we lived in Texas. For the last two years of that time, we were in the greater Houston area. My wife once described what it is like to live in Houston very eloquently: it's like living in someone's mouth. It's hot, humid, and just plain nasty. Now the area has a lot to offer--we loved our neighborhood, we loved the food, and we loved the museums. But in the summer, we spent most of our time inside, hiding from the oppressive heat. There was an array of exciting swimming complexes in our area, but there were many days that it was just too damn hot to swim. We'd go to the beach at 6:30 in the morning and leave by the time it was too damn hot, at about 9:30.

We moved to Michigan a couple years ago, and while we're not in love with our neighborhood, nor the food, and we haven't seen a museum for ages, we do love the weather. We love mild summers, brisk, colorful falls, and cold, snowy winters (spring is kind of lame, but we survive). Everyone told us that we would get sick of the snow, that we would stay inside all winter, that we would detest it in general.

Instead, we really dig the winter. We try to get out often. There are sledding hills, snowball fights, and rivers and lakes to actually walk on. Yes, I hate bundling the kids up because it takes so long and holds the potential for fussing. And my kids don't enjoy sitting inside with windows open to the falling snow, reading a book and listening to music nearly as much as I do. But we make a point to get outside at least every other day, even if it's just to play in the yard.

We seem to be in the minority in the area. I suppose that it's true that familiarity breeds contempt, and maybe after several years we could be shut-ins, too.

We came up with an idea a couple weeks ago, to go to the zoo in Detroit. We figured that there was a chance that it would be awesome. And it totally was. We had the place to ourselves and while many animals weren't present, those who were there were exceedingly active.

I think that outside time, either structured, like a trip to the zoo, or unstructured, like playing in the yard while I scoop the sidewalk, is very important for kids. It is extra effort to bundle up when you'd rather be cozy, or set your alarm for before sunrise to go to the beach, but I think it's worth it.

I will leave you with a couple pictures from our zoo trip. Most of them, of course, taken by my wife, whose picture a day blog you can find by clicking here:

1 comment:

Alyvia said...

That last picture was pretty badass.