Kids / Parenting

Send Your Kids Outside

Carpentras

We Americans like to complain. Since our country’s founding, we’ve complained about the British, a lack of paved roads, the government, robber barons, taxes, and unemployment-to name a few.

Recently, one of the most common complaints I hear (or see on Facebook) concerns the weather.

When did complaining about the weather become a national pastime? It was once enough to complain about politicians, but these days, particularly during winter and in the northern part of the country, we’ve replaced national pastimes of baseball and porch swinging with despairing that St. Paul doesn’t have the climate of San Diego. As soon as winter starts approaching people immediately start complaining about feeling cold and dreading the snow falling just in case it disrupts them. Some people even start preparing way ahead of time so they don’t feel miserable when it rolls around. They get extra blankets, upgrade their radiators, and install new heat pumps (a friend recently did this in her house, she needed a new one badly and just typed in “heat pump Greensboro” and started calling around because she was not going to waste any time!) Basically, when it comes to winter, so many of us approach it with a shudder and wide eyes.

As a snot-nosed kid seeking out the mischief in suburban Chicago, I could have cared less about the weather. Snowstorms meant snowball fights, snow forts, ice-skating and hockey-oh, hiding in hedgerows, and lobbing snowballs at passersby and cars. And inside the home, it meant keeping the heater burning by sourcing some fuel from a website similar to snowsfuel.com.

Winter was fun.

But for far too many American parents today, winter is not fun. And so their kids will never know the joys of sledding, snowshoeing, or slurping a hot chocolate after spending a little too long outdoors.

And why? As a country, we’ve bought into the idea that southern California has the ideal weather. Never mind that it’s a desert without enough water to support its population. Or that if the state’s weather were everywhere, we wouldn’t have enough food or water to survive.

Rational arguments aside, why do we worship mild weather? I mean, I have seen many people getting upset when they find signs of the temperature dropping on their personal weather station. I mean, sure, it may be easier to slip into sandals and slather on sunscreen before heading out to run Saturday errands when it is not so cold outside. But maybe easier doesn’t always result in the happiest of lives. (Does it though?)

Just ask the Danish who for several years have been considered the happiest people on the planet. Their neighbors-Sweden and Norway-also rank high on the happiness scale. If you think a Chicago winter is dreary, you might fear you’d be downright suicidal spending the winter in Scandinavia. But you’d be wrong. Many of the states and cities with the highest suicide rates aren’t spots that experience cold winters. Obviously, cold winters don’t determine happiness–or, they don’t have to.

So can we stop worshipping warm weather and stop complaining about winter weather? And parents in northern climes, can you send your kids outside to sled, skate and throw snowballs (but not at me, please)? Wrap them up in the thickest of clothing and let them play! If you want, you could most definitely get some heating oils for fireplaces (from suppliers such as FSI Oil and Propane), heat pumps, or heating systems installed in your home – but to deprive your child of the simplest joys of winter is just not right! You may still decide you don’t like winter weather. But you’ll be warm inside.

An additional benefit would be that your kids will wear themselves out and you can take advantage of some peace and quiet. And fix yourself a hot toddy.

Now it is up to you to decide on what you want!

PHOTO CREDIT: ALAN J SHANNON

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