This is Canada. It's going to get cold in the winter, and chances are, there is going to be snow - sometimes a lot of it. As much as hibernating between January 1st and April 15th sounds enticing, you'll miss out on a lot of fun if that's the route you take. Get outside! Do the things you do any other time of the year! As long as you are dressed appropriately, the snow season has as much to offer as the warmer months, and possibly even more!
While it's unlikely you'll be hanging out on the beach mid-February, you can still hit the water! If you're feeling adventurous, why not try one of the many Polar Bear dips? Maybe you'll even earn yourself a cool nickname like Freddie Popsicle Pants. The street cred of such a moniker is not to be underrated. Hit Google for a list of swims in your area, and pride yourself on the size of your (now shriveled) bravado.
We know that getting outside and spending time in the community is important for our health and sense of community spirit. But think about how often you talk to people in your neighbourhood in February. Chances are, you're running from your front door to the car, with nary a nod to your frozen neighbour. There are people on my street who I only see evidence of in June, July, and August. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Humans need to see, talk, and have fun with one another during the summer AND winter. Enter Family Snow Day, eh?
Family Snow Day is a great opportunity to get outside and have fun in the winter - all while helping others. The Canadian Cancer Society is hosting several Family Snow Day, eh! events in the GTA, and at the same time, fundraising for the Snowball Fund - a fund dedicated to helping families affected by cancer.
I was only a small girl when my grandmother had cancer, but I remember hearing the news and how it caught in my father's throat when he told us. Even without knowing the details, I could realize back then that cancer was a terrible thing. She recovered - she was lucky - but cancer is something we all think about and worry about to this day. Family Snow Day, eh gives families the opportunity to try something new this winter (Snowshoe! Snowboard! Ski!) while providing much needed funds to help families who may not be as fortunate as mine.
Also, I hear there will be snacks. Panago Pizza, Panera Bread, and Second Cup will all be on hand. There will also be supervised stations for kids to make s'mores, maple taffy on ice, and more!
If your dog won't come when you call, and avoids eye contact for more than a day or two, you know why: you haven't taken her outside in two weeks, have you? Come on! Nightly walks are not just a mild weather pursuit. There's something about the sweet crunch of snow underfoot in the incubating silence of a winter's night that makes an after-dark winter walk special in a way no July stroll can ever hope to be. It's cold, it's quiet, it's peaceful. Besides, didn't our grandmothers tell us that cold air was good for the lungs? Or was it that it would put hair on our chests? No matter, either way.
Load the layers on (you and the dog!) and hit the sidewalk. The winter at night is a special place and you shouldn't forget what your neighbourhood looks like after dark just because it's dark by 5pm. The kids will love the magic of going outside for a pre-bedtime stroll and they'll sleep better to boot! Pull little ones in a sled, and bring on the rosy cheeks!
Wing it. Don't have a plan. Throw it at the wall and see what sticks.
Behold the Mighty "Ice Chopping" Machine:
This is what happens when you don snow pants and hit the backyard with no plans. In the summer, this tactic may lead to tree climbing or hide and seek, but when the leaves are off the trees and everything is bare, poke around the garage and yard and see what you can find. The machine above came about when my 10 year-old and his friend re-purposed a bike destined for the metal scrap yard. Yes- those are scissors stuck in the snow off to the left.
Snow should be considered an added feature to outside play - not a hindrance. A little imagination and some simple tools (string, scissors, branches, etc.) can lead to a lifetime of memories recalling the special fun winter play brought. Be sure to clean up any clutter afterwards. You'll have so much fun outside you won't even remember what "June" is.
There's no reason to end the outdoor fun when you come home from the toboggan hill. Your BBQ still works in the winter and you can use it for heat! You can also check your local bylaws, because many urban centres now allow closed fires in backyards, like in a chiminea. Simmer hot chocolate in a pot on the BBQ and start a small fire for backyard winter s'mores.
For the extra adventurous, host a full-on BBQ party! String some outdoor lights and wind them around trees in the yard. Huddle around on lawn chairs or pick up some hay bales from a farm supply house or nursery. Serve small nibbles to ensure they're eaten hot off the grill because a traditional plate of food will go cold. Try kabobs and corn on the cob. Anything you can eat with mittens goes! Form a circle and huddle up for some amazing winter memories.
Sure, the neighbours may think you're crazy, eating and entertaining outside in the middle of February, but they never bring their trash cans in until four days past pick up, so don't be too concerned with their seal of approval.
And as a bonus, snowy winter BBQ parties means no lawn care is needed and you can finally put the lawnmower away!