5 Excuses to Skip Winter Outdoor Play (And Why You Should Get Outside Anyway!)

Child Pulled on Sled in Winter Outdoor Play Time
It may be tempting to stay indoors this winter… Here are good reasons why you should resist!

Here we are halfway through winter, and depending on where you live, there may be several more weeks of cold, maybe even snowy, weather. If your house is anything like mine, everyone has been ‘patiently’ awaiting nicer weather and temps so they can go out for some winter outdoor play. They are running back and forth across the house, up and down the stairs, and you KNOW they need to go outside and “get some wiggles out”. Right?

But… you’re not feeling it. And you might even have excuses which sound good enough to skip the effort. But hear me out on why you should still get them outside to play, even in the winter.

Here are some common excuses why we avoid getting our children outside, and good reasons to do it anyway.

#1. It’s COLD outside!

No matter where you live in the United States, it gets cold in the winter. But if you are in good health and no one has a cold or the flu, you can bundle up and still enjoy being outside.

But it’s only “X degrees” here!! Here is a handy temperature guide for outdoor winter play:

It is safest to play outside when it is above 30 degrees F. Be sure to layer clothing, drink water often, and take breaks. Also watch everyone for signs of becoming chilled, especially checking babies’ hands and feet. To keep everyone toasty for longer, try these Essential Pieces of Clothing that Will Keep Your Kids Warm During Winter Play.

When it is 20-30 degrees F, you can still safely play outside. Along with previously stated tips, be cautious because it is easier to become chilled. You should layer clothing under everyone’s coats.

Now if is below 20 degrees F, then you do want to stay inside as it actually IS too cold, and outdoor playtime is not recommended. Otherwise- grab your coats and mittens and get outside!

#2. It takes forever to get everyone ready.

I don’t know about your kids, but when we decide to play outside in the winter, it used to be a struggle to find hats, scarves, and warm matching mittens. We would spend a crazy amount of time finding all five kids the appropriate size headgear and mittens, only to discover someone had to go potty after getting all bundled up.

So now we hang all the coats on hooks and keep everything else in a big basket by the door. When they come back in from playing- that’s where everything returns too. Do we still sometimes lose a mitten? Yes, but at least we are starting ahead of the game.

The trick is to decide to organize this little area of your life, so when the opportunity to go outside arrives, you can make it happen easily and with fewer delays.

#3. We could just play inside… again.

You’ve seen the scientific studies and probably read articles about why kids NEED to spend time outside in nature. If not- go read Nature Time vs. Screen Time and watch this short video on Nature’s Benefits For Our Children.

So, despite the comforts of your home and the stimulating activities available to your kids, they truly need the fresh air, sunshine, and exercise that only come from being outside. And in the wintertime, your kids have access to magical materials like snow, ice, slush, and pinecones to add into their imaginative play.

Especially when days are shorter, the added boost to their mood and confidence by playing outside can reduce feelings of depression and anxiousness as well.

Bottom line: winter outdoor play makes kids happy!

#4. But it’s almost dark out.

What if by the time you get home from work or school it’s nearly dark out? If the temperature is still above 20 degrees F, grab your coats and a flashlight, and head outside anyway!

You don’t have to go far to notice how different your yard or neighborhood looks at night in the winter. Different shadows, snow-covered shapes you can try to guess after a fresh snow. If it’s crisp and clear out, don’t forget to look up at the night sky. You certainly can’t stargaze when the sun is up, and the kids will enjoy looking for shooting stars (or passing aircraft).

Some of our favorite outdoor times in the winter have been spent going for short walks with our flashlight lighting the way, or huddled together talking in hushed voices and cozy closeness.

#5. I don’t have any new ideas to make it fun.

Now that we have overcome any previous objections, we come to our final challenge:
What do we do when we get outside with our kids this winter? Boy, have you come to the right place!

Preparation is key in getting outside at a moment’s notice. And when your goal is keeping your kids engaged with nature, use this Checklist for Getting Outside with Kids.

Do you prefer more in-depth pre-planned ideas? How about hands-on activities that build life skills, connect your kids with nature in their own backyards, and give them a STEM advantage at any age? Take a look at our Nature Matters Academy and try out a lesson this winter. It will build your kids’ confidence and give them even more enjoyable nature experiences.

Now that you have shot down all your excuses to stay inside with your kids all winter, dust off your snow boots, grab your kids, and get outside for some fun winter outdoor play! Above all, your kids will be in a better mood, and you may get your own wiggles out too.

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