There is a saying, usually attributed to the Swedes, which goes, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only people badly dressed for the weather." Because kids often don't complain about the cold until their lips are blue, it's important to make sure that they're properly outfitted before you all head out. Some things to keep in mind:
Mittens. To keep snow from getting to little fingers, buy mittens with a long cuff that comes up at least three or four inches past the wrist. Take along an extra pair if you'll be out longer than an hour; the first pair will likely get wet while your child is making snowballs or snow angels.
Boots. Winter-warrior moms say that waterproof boots are the most important clothing item for children heading outside. Before buying, check to make sure there is a good layer of insulation inside, not just a plastic shell.
Hats. Look for wool or acrylic knit hats with a tight, thick weave. They repel water better than loose weaves. Hats should also be long enough to be pulled completely over the ears.
Instant warmth. Take along a pocketful of hard candies or a thermos of hot chocolate. When kids are cold or tired, this little boost will get them home if they're running out of energy.
Break time. You don't have to get all your outdoor exercise at once on very cold days. Instead, go out for 5 or 10 minutes then go back inside for a hot chocolate break. When warm, head back out a couple more times until you've totaled a 30- to 60-minute workout.
Originally published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, March 2004.