There’s something magical about waking up on a crisp winter’s morn to discover a perfect carpet of thick white snow. And it’s even more magical watching the wonder of the very first snowfall through your child’s eyes.
For many, the fascination and wonder that snowfall evokes never fades. Perhaps it’s the purity of its whiteness or the perfection of each tiny flake, as unique and individual as the humans who walk the earth. But imagine the wonder of watching snow fall for the very first time, silently and majestically, as tiny flakes grow ever thicker until you can barely see through its sheer whiteness.
There’s a lot to be said for observing snow whilst holed up within the cosy confines of your home, of course, but there are also times when it’s incumbent upon you to venture out into the wintry wonderland. Indeed, your children will demand it!
Living in London, heavy downfalls of snow used to be rare. In recent years, however, we’ve had significant snowfall – and in sufficiently hefty doses to warrant an official Snow Day: schools closing due to hazards of icy playgrounds or heating breakdowns, and journeys into work deemed impossible with London’s transport grinding to a near halt. The result? Excited hordes wrapping up warm before heading outside to build a snowman, throw snowballs, make a snow angel or head to the nearest slopes to master the art of toboganning!
But here’s the thing. Snow is brilliant fun, but it comes with its challenges, and over the years with I’ve picked up a few handy tips playing with my daughter, Grace, and then my son, Joe. We’ve built snowmen of all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of sartorial elegance. Joe once insisted on dressing his snowman in his Paul Smith striped scarf, while Grace was most pleased with her parade of dainty mini snowmen who wore nothing but a berry smile.
Snowmen are all well and good, but sometimes a bit of snow goes best with something that can slip and slide across it. Our best buys for snowy fun have included an inflatable board for toboganning, and some nifty Arctic Force ‘weaponry’, for want of a better word, which Joe loved. To the uninitiated, Arctic Force is a bit like Nerf for snowy climes, but instead of foam bullets, you utilise snowballs! My favourite piece of kit is the Wham-O Arctic Force Snow Trac Ball, which scoops up the snow then moulds them into snowballs – hugely more preferable than using your hands which soon become frozen even when wearing gloves. Predictably, Joe’s favourite is the Snowball Blaster so we became a team where I made the snowballs and he fired them.
So here are our ten tips to make the most of your snowy escapades…
1. Wrap up with a warm coat but light layers underneath – toddlers can feel uncomfortable with bulky jumpers, so thin thermal layers are better as they won’t constrict movement. We love the stylish jackets by ski specialists Perfect Moment which are suitably cool for the cold (they are shown in our picture, above!).
2. Choose a hat that covers ears, deerstalker-style, or earmuffs.
3. Opt for waterproof gloves with fingers, rather than mittens to give greater dexterity for building snowmen or tossing snowballs, woollen gloves will get very soggy in the snow, and coldness often leads to grumpiness, so go for water-resistant materials.
4. For footwear, it goes without saying that waterproof is best, with good crunchy grip on the soles. Wellington boots aren’t ideal as they don’t offer warmth, but you can solve the problem by adding thermal insoles and thick socks. Again, choose a style, like Aigle, Hunter or Joules that offer good grip on the soles.
5. Waterproof salopettes are great, too, provided they’re not too stiff, as trousers tend to get wet when you fall over or are subjected to a torrent of snowballs!
6. Don’t forget to use sunscreen – even though it might be winter, the snow can produce a significant glare that can cause sunburn on warm days. So apply sunscreen to the face before heading outdoors.
8. Remind children that the usual playground rules apply, so take turns, no sticks for fighting with other children, and remember that snow turns into ice, so no pushing, shoving or running, or it could end in a nasty fall. Snowball fights can be fun, too, but make sure your child does so safely, and never throws snowballs at anyone’s face.
9. Keep play sessions short to avoid getting too cold.
10. Stock up on delicious hot chocolate to warm the cockles when you get indoors.