“My socks/pants/sleeves are wet!”
Ah, the melodious call of the Western Australian Summer-Born Child when the temperature drops below 25 degrees and the cloudy sky has the audacity to release a sprinkling of water.
All three of my kids were born in the dry, baking heat that our Summers are famous for, and it seems like that is where their body temperature wants to remain. Although they’re outdoor kids, and love nothing better than getting dirty building cubby houses from fallen branches, discovering “treasures” on bushwalks and beaching it up in the summer months, come Autumn they want to settle in for a good six month stint of hibernating.
There’s a wonderful Norwegian saying – “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!” which translates to “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!”, and I wholeheartedly agree.
As Western Australians we don’t seem to have enough of the right kind of clothing to handle the cold weather. Admittedly, when 10 months of the year is sunny, and the temperature ranges from “comfortable” to “industrial furnace”, buying wet/cold weather gear for the kids might not be a top priority.
To be honest, our Autumn and Winter months are pretty mild (if you ignore the occasional car-destroying hailstorm and flash flood) and it’s often nicer weather to get out and about in than in the Summer. And for kids who’ve grown up with mostly sunny days, the wind and rain are awesomely exciting! Feeling the rain on your face, the wind ruffling your hair and the puddles, oh the puddles!
Winter always seems to catch me unawares – the kids start the season with too-short pants and too-tight jumpers, but our recent Christmas trip to Ireland taught us a great lesson in sourcing wet and cold weather clothes. I also learned a new phrase – “Cotton Kills”. It sounds dramatic, but when cotton gets wet, it traps water inside its fibres, which is why it takes so long to dry out. Great for a hot summer day at the beach when you want to eke out that last bit of coolness on the long trek back to the car, but getting wet and staying wet, even in above-freezing temperatures can rapidly cool your body as a result. When the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, hypothermia can set in and you could be faced with a medical emergency.
I’m pretty excited about how useful our Christmas winter gear will be as things cool down in the lead up to our Winter. If you also have kids who baulk at the cold and need a little encouragement when the temperature drops, you might like our list of Top 10 (+ 1) Items of Cold Weather Gear – to keep you outside all year long!
Top 10 (+ 1) Items of Cold Weather Gear
- Thermals – Socks, Tops and Pants – My favourite item of clothing (from many!) has to be the humble thermal sock. If your feet are warm, it’s so much easier to tolerate the cold. I found the kids were happy to stay outside much longer when their feet were kept toasty. Thermal pants and tops might be a little overkill, but as they’re quite stretchy, you could get a good couple of years out of them, and you’ll be able to get more wear out of summer-weight pants worn over the top.
- Gilets – otherwise known as a zippy vest; I’m a big fan of these for kids! They keep little bellies and backs warm, without the restriction (or extra heat) from full-sleeved jackets and coats. With a long-sleeved tshirt underneath, these are a great way of cutting the cold without overheating.
- Lined Pants – not so easy to find in WA, but lined jeans or pants are so great for keeping little legs warm. Tough denim, corduroy or cotton outers with a cosy jersey lining, these pants are winners. We bought ours online but some local children’s clothing chains stock these too.
- Wet Weather Pants – the raincoat seems like an obvious get, but waterproof pants can prove invaluable in keeping kids outdoors and having fun long after the “Mum I’m wet!” cries usually begin.
- Fleece Zip-Up Tops – perfect for layering under raincoats, or heavier jackets for colder days, or worn on their own, they’re a great light-weight addition that doesn’t restrict kids movements when they’re out climbing trees!
- Beanies – just as warm feet keep your body warm, warm heads are important too, especially when you consider just how big small children’s heads are in comparison to the rest of their bodies. Also great for little ones who haven’t yet got a full head of hair.
- Ear Cover Headbands – a great alternative to beanies, fleece ear-covering headbands keep little ears toasty warm without overheating. Some kids in particular are really bothered by cold ears, and an earache can pretty quickly put an end to an outdoor adventure.
- Lightweight Raincoat – easy to keep in the car (usually screwed up in the boot!) they’re great for keeping dry from frequent showers without getting overheated.
- Hot Pocket Warmers – OK, we’re talking really drastically cold, now! When the mittens and gloves just won’t cut it, a couple of these stowed in your pockets are great for thawing little fingers.
- Gumboots! We know this one is a no-brainer, but teamed with waterproof pants, you’re set for a great day of jumping in muddy puddles!
+ 1. Thermos full of hot Milo or Tomato Soup! Although not strictly cold weather gear, there’s nothing like a hot Milo or steamy tomato soup at the end of a great cold weather nature play session, for big kids and little ones! Warming your hands on the cup, while warming your belly with hot tasty goodness, you just can’t beat a Thermos full of your favourite Winter warmer.