Moving our bodies in cold weather poses parenting challenge

Marc Lalonde
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Kids need to move, subarctic chill or not

parenting

My son, bless his heart, is a human dynamo. He is excited, animated and loves to hit things, both with his fists and with his body. He loves to run, climb, jump and make explosion noises with his mouth as though he were a ninja with grenades for hands or something equally awesome-sounding.

Like many West Islanders last week, though, my little human dynamo stayed inside – a lot. Daytime temperatures hovering around -15C and snow flurries kept us from getting outside as much as we would have liked – and that didn't sit well with my son. It's age-appropriate, of course.

I remember when my nephew was about the same age (three and a half), my sister-in-law told me that he wasn't himself if he didn't have some avenue for challenging his body in some way – and my son is right there, right now. If he doesn't get outside or have some large indoor space to use his body in some way, then he is miserable – and he takes that opportunity to make the rest of the house miserable.

It has forced us to rethink how we spend our days, too. Even when the holidays were in full swing, we had to day-plan at least one activity per day that would somehow get him up and moving – without really knowing that's what we were doing. It wasn't that hard, but I would've liked to not have to keep it in mind at all.

Of course, that's what parenting is – the notion of replacing your own selfish needs and wants to replace them with your family's overall needs. Yes, I wanted to sit and watch the Kraft Fight Hunger Meineke Car Care Bowl live from El Paso, Tx (note: not a real bowl game), but my son needed to get his energy out and spent. So, off we trundled to the sledding hill, the outdoor skating rink (gloriously open after a stretch of bitter cold over the holidays) and just outdoors to walk the dog or build a snowman, day after day.

We threw snowballs into the lake and pretended we were fighting bad guys with pine cones. Yes – it was, again, glorious – and it was something we both needed.

This past Saturday was a perfect example. Even though I had zero interest in getting outside, it was a beautiful day and just cried out to be spent, at least partly, outside. So the boy and I simply went on a sightseeing tour down by the lakeshore area. We checked out the shoreline and marvelled at the melting snow on the lake's edge. We threw snowballs into the lake and pretended we were fighting bad guys with pine cones. Yes – it was, again, glorious – and it was something we both needed.

This is how I always process the situation; I begrudgingly get dressed, go outside and pretend to enjoy what['s going on, for my kids' benefit, naturally – but after a while, I tend to forget about pretending to enjoy myself and actually enjoy myself. Thus, the great feelings of bonding between parents and kids – and those are the memories that last a lifetime. My son probably won't remember too many details of his early years, but I suspect that in coming years, we'll both look back fondly on this time. I know I will.

Organizations: Kraft Fight Hunger Meineke Car Care Bowl, El Paso

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