Play outside · winter

My Love/Hate Relationship with Playing in the Snow


I am happiest in the summer, when the sun is warming my skin.  When I’m barefoot and wearing a sundress.  When I’m able to get in my car, open the windows and sunroof, and drive somewhere without cumbersome winter coats, and boots, and mittens, and hats, and scarves.  When I’m not cold.

I am a creature of the sun.  Despite having grown up in Massachusetts, I spent almost ten years of my adult life living in Los Angeles, where I could happily prance around coatless all year long if I really wanted to.  Don’t get me wrong – I wore “fall boots” and cozy clothes during the colder months for fashion and to feel seasonally appropriate, but never out of necessity.  But despite the weather perfection in Southern California, we decided that the East Coast was the right place for us to raise our family.

So here we are in December, 8 years later, and it’s snowing.  The sparkling, powdery stuff that used to delight me as a kid is not so delightful these days.  In fact, I now hate the snow.  HATE.  There are a bunch of reasons why, like the fact that I can’t stand winter coats, warming up my car for ten minutes before going anywhere, inconvenience, or being cold.  But the girls’ eyes absolutely light up at the first snow, and I know I’m in for it…

Playing outside in the snow.

I know it sounds harmless.  But let me educate you if you have never played outside in the snow with very small kids.  It’s freezing.  It’s wet.  It takes 45 frustrating minutes to get everyone into all their layers of snow gear, some of which is always too small or too big.  It’s slippery.  And there’s this when it’s all over:

Snow -

A wet, messy pile of more stuff to do.  More things to add to all the other things when you really just want to snuggle under a blanket on the couch with a cup of tea and a movie.

There is this frown when your 5-year-old realizes that her boots are full of packed in, cold snow, but she hadn’t noticed outside because she had been  having too much fun playing “Elsa and Anna’s Ice Palace” with her sister.

So why do I do it?  Why don’t I bribe them to stay inside with promises of hot chocolate with marshmallows, tablet time, and movies?  Well, my childhood memories of playing in the snow are happy.  Maybe even magical.  For a kid, there is almost nothing better than the carefree feeling of running through a yard covered with a fresh blanket of clean, white, glittery, delicious snow.  It means snow angels, snowmen, snowball fights, and imaginative play.  Something I hadn’t realized was that to Lane and Lauren, it means something even more special.

See, last year at Mother’s Day, Lane made me a present at school.  It was a frame she had decorated with sequins and gems.  Inside it was a picture she colored and a list that her pre-school teacher helped her complete.  There were all kinds of things about me – like things she thinks I’m good at (going to the gym was what she said – she must have made it during the one week I went to the gym last year), things I always say to her (“I love you” – so glad it wasn’t “Hurry up!”), and then there was one that really got me.  It said “My favorite memory with my Mom.”  And next to it, she wrote, “When I was really little and it snowed really high and my mom made snow angels with me.”

In that moment, I knew that sucking it up every year and facing the brutality of snowsuits and icy puddles in the kitchen was going to be my reality each winter until the girls didn’t want to do it anymore.  Because to them, playing in the snow with me is part of the fabric that’s becoming their childhood.  So, as much as I will continue to dread so many things about winter – one thing will warm my heart: knowing I’m making my kids happy.

Now… how many more days ’til summer?


Activities · Lane · Lauren · Play outside · Summer

Best. Summer. EVER.

Summer Activities for kids.
Summer is finally in full swing, and we could not be happier or more ready!  As my fellow New Englanders know, it was a very LONG winter.  But it’s officially week #2 of summer vaycay for us (lots of snow days held us up!), and we are all about making the most of every sunny second!  Fortunately, we’ve found tons of ways to soak up summer without breaking the bank – the best things in life are free (or at least cheap!), after all!

Ice cream truck.
Decisions, decisions…
Here are four of our favorites:

  1. PLAYGROUNDS.  It’s an old standby, but Lane and Lauren have yet to meet a playground that they didn’t love.  We’ve explored and discovered several awesome playgrounds nearby that are fenced in (super important to me, as I typically take the girls by myself, and it can get tricky trying to keep track of both of them as they run in different directions), and provide shady areas for those super hot days.   Playgrounds are amazing for exercise, imagination, and socializing, but what I love most is the element of unstructured play that is missing from so many childhood activities these days.  So much of what kids do is organized, and it’s refreshing to let them just be kids and play on their own terms.  I’ve watched the girls’ confidence build as they master new tricks on the playground equipment and I always get a kick out of watching their interactions with the kids they meet.  And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I actually really love the swings myself.Summer activities - Playground.
  2. THE LIBRARY.  Do yourself a solid and check out your local Children’s Room!  During the summer, the girls and I make it a point to go once a week to grab some fresh reads (currently on our nightstands: Your Purr-fect Birthday and Today I Will Fly) and take advantage of all our city’s library has to offer.  We’ve signed up for the Summer Reading Program, which incentivizes kids to read with rewards and activities, and even discovered that our library offers discount or even free passes to many local museums, zoos, and other attractions.  This month’s library activity calendar includes tons of creative, fun activities that kids love: everything from crafts and game nights to movies and story time in your PJ’s.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much our library has to offer, and it keeps the girls motivated to read and learn through play all summer!
  3. SPLASH PADS.  A splash pad is the perfect way to cool off without the stress of the deep end, the undertow, and/or creepy sea creatures.  Don’t get me wrong: I adore the beach – when I’m alone and can take a nap or read a book.  However, I ventured with two small children to the beach by myself last summer and it was the single least relaxing event I have ever taken part in.  The packing and prep, the parking, the trekking across the sand with all the stuff… it’s exhausting.  Enter: the Splash Pad.  Luckily, we’ve got a few great ones nearby, and a couple of our faves are the Splash Pad Playspace at the Capron Park Zoo (this place has the added bonus of a great playground, too!) and the Splash Pad at Freetown State Forest.  Extra points go to Freetown State Forest for its fully fenced-in, life-guarded, non-sandy and regularly cleaned grounds.  It’s even got a shady picnic area, so bring the PB&J’s!  Find out more about the splash pad in Freetown, as well as other splash pads in Massachusetts by clicking here.
  4. BERRY PICKING.  If you’re looking for a cheap, fun outdoor activity, google nearby farms/farm stands.  Late June and early July are prime for perfect strawberries – we went a couple of weeks ago and spent an amazing couple of hours picking the most beautiful strawberries for a cool $4.70.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a warm, sweet, sun-ripened strawberry right off the vine.  Blueberry season arrives later in the summer, around mid-August.  Our family loves traditions, and berry picking has become something the girls look forward to each summer.  Not only do we have a blast together, but we go home with yummy fresh fruit and support local farmers. Summer activities for kids - strawberry picking.Summer activities for kids - strawberry picking.

What are your favorite ways to savor summer?  We’d love to read your suggestions and comments – we are always looking for new ideas!  Happy Summer!