Cooler, wet temperatures and shorter days tend to keep families indoors during this time of year. It’s a lot of work to bundle the kids up to go hiking in the rain and cold. And less hours of sunlight makes it harder to find time with busy schedules to intentionally get out and play. But you don’t have to let these obstacles stop you from getting out with your kids … they need the fresh air and big open spaces just as much as they do any other time of year.
Some of my kids’ best hikes happened when it was raining or snowing. They seem more relaxed; they also whine less too. The elements guide their adventures, test their balance and agility, and spark their curiosity about how things work in nature. Where time stands still and the wetness and cold seeping into their skin gets ignored for more time splashing and tossing snowballs.
With the rainy and cooler season here, I asked if they liked hiking better when it’s hot or cold. And hands down, they preferred hiking in the rain and cold for the same reasons I’m sure many kiddos (and those young at heart!) would agree.
1. “We love splashing in puddles!”
Water play is definitely a winner when it comes to outdoor fun. Whether it’s the waters gathered in dips in the pavement or a huge puddle creating an obstacle on the trail, kids are drawn by a magnetic force that ushers them to wade into the heart of the puddle and jump. And jump some more … until they are completely drenched with total disregard for how wet they get. For kids, the bigger the splash, the better.
(A tip for those wet shoes? Ball up newspaper and shove them into wet shoes and let sit overnight. Then prepare to be amazed at how dry they are the next day. If they’re not completely dry, put more balled-up newspaper in again.)
2. “We like seeing the animals that come out when it rains or in the winter.”
Kids are naturally curious about the world around them, which makes rainy days an even more unique time to learn about nature. It’s a good opportunity to watch for worms and snails, which come out when the ground is saturated, and learn about their makeup and how they contribute to the ecosystem. In winter, it’s fun to catch glimpses of winter birds, especially against a landscape that resembles a snow globe. Begin a discussion about how winter birds – and other animals – survive the cold. Then make homemade bird feeders to leave in the woods to aid in their survival during the cold months.
3. “All the red trees are my favorite trees.”
In areas that see major changes in the four seasons, fall is a great time for hiking to watch the colors transition from green to blazing reds, oranges and yellows … and then a few weeks later, return to see them disappear altogether. Kids love to collect leaves or hear the rustling of fallen, dry leaves underfoot. And it’s always a lot of fun to toss leaves in the air and watch the wind twirl them all around. We also like to play a game where we find the largest leaf and compare it against the size of our face for giggles.
4. “It’s fun hiking on snow and sledding in the woods.”
It’s not a secret – kids love snow and everything related to it, like sledding, eating snow, snowball fights, catching flakes on their tongue and making snow angels. Snow play is endless and even when their tiny fingers and toes can’t feel anymore, kids still insist they’re not cold. Hiking in snow also teaches kids about better footing and balance when walking over slick spots or sliding downhill. We also bring sleds on our hikes and stop halfway in the woods on a hill and sled for a little bit. The baby isn’t left out of the fun either; he gets pulled along in his sled during snowy hikes too.
5. “We like feeling cold and wearing layers.”
Hiking on a hot day when you’re sweaty from the heat and humidity and carrying a heavy pack isn’t very fun. But when the weather cools down, it’s easy to wear layers and shed them when your body temperature rises. According to my kids, dressing in layers also feels like you’re snuggling yourself. I never thought of it that way, but yeah – it does! Of course, mom or dad have to deal with the piles of socks, gloves, hats, scarves and coats inside the front door from all the shedding. But the fun that was had and the memories made are so worth it.
Do your kids like hiking in the rain and cold? Leave a comment below and let us know what cool things your kids like about hiking at this time of year.