Winter is always a bit more challenging for parents to navigate for a number of different reasons. For one thing, school is out of session for a fairly extended holiday break, during which kids aren't able to see their friends as often and are spending more time at home. This is particularly challenging for working parents, who may need to find childcare for younger kids outside of the actual holidays themselves. Children are also less able to play outside in some areas, simply due to cold temperatures and inclement weather. There are also the various winter viruses to worry about, as the flu tends to spread more often during the fall and winter than it does during the warm seasons.
But this year, of course, we are dealing with a very different type of virus and a lot of kids are staying home -- regardless of whether or not schools are on a holiday break. This makes winter all the more challenging for those of us trying to keep our children safe and healthy. That's why we're delving into a few tips and strategies that you can use to ensure that your children have the best possible winter and that you won't have to worry about taking anyone to the hospital.
1. Allow Outdoor Play -- But Be Careful
We never want our kids to get hurt while playing outdoors. But right now, in particular, is the worst possible time for your child to visit the doctor's office or hospital with a broken ankle. Hospitals in most states are very crowded with people who may be infected with the coronavirus. Therefore, people without the virus or virus symptoms are being instructed to stay away from these areas as much as possible. The last thing you want is your children to catch the virus because you had to visit an overloaded hospital due to an injury incurred while they were playing outside.
It's fun to play outside during the winter, especially after it's snowed. But the wintertime causes natural hazards that just aren't present during the rest of the year. Snow can conceal dips in the ground and ice can collect easily, forming slippery patches that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Keep in mind that if you or your child are hurt after slipping and falling on ice on a property owned by someone else, in states like Texas you typically will only have two years to file a personal injury claim if high medical costs result. Therefore, you should always watch your children when they're playing outside and encourage them to stay close to your house. They may not even realize that they're wandering into the road due to snow coverage. Even when roads are closed due to traffic, it is not safe for them to play in the street. Young children should be watched by their parents when they go outside and play. Your supervision is key in preventing wintertime injuries.
2. Bundle Up Tight
There are a lot of issues that you should consider when having your children play outside during the winter. But one of the most important is taking the time to make sure that they are bundled up and are as warm as possible. Children sometimes have a harder time controlling their body temperatures than adults do -- and they are particularly prone to losing heat through their heads if they don't wear hats and earmuffs. Kids can also be at risk of experiencing frostbite on their extremities, like their fingers or toes or noses and ears.
At the same time, if children are bundled up with too many layers, they can risk becoming overheated. It's important for them to go outside and get some exercise. Adults that have over seven hours of physical exercise per week increase their life expectancies, after all, and children also benefit from that physical activity. Typically, kids should have at least one more layer of insulation than adults wear, as it's harder for them to control their body temperatures than it is for adults. If you need two layers, for example, your children will need three. Going beyond that could cause them to overheat. But don't forget hats, earmuffs, scarves, and gloves!
3. Protect Their Skin
We don't necessarily realize how much damage the cold can do to our children's skin. We think more of the issues that come with sun damage. But the fact is that kids can experience sun damage even if they're not playing in hot and sunny conditions. This is why your first step should involve applying sunscreen to their exposed skin on cold days. Some kids actually feel the effects of the sun even more when it's reflecting off of the snow. You should furthermore make sure that they have chapstick and use it. In fact, you may even want to use petroleum jelly or Aquafor around your child's mouth.
You should also have a routine ready for when they come inside from the cold. Kids should immediately get into the tub after coming in from a long time playing in the cold. Otherwise, baths are generally advised during the winter because it's easier for people to absorb moisture into their skin during long baths. These baths should include simple cleansers rather than bubble baths. Afterward, children should use a moisturizer on their skin to keep it soothed and soft.
4. Focus on Hydration
As is the case with sun damage, we often dismiss the degree to which people can get dehydrated during the winter. But the reality is that you can become dehydrated rather easily during the winter and children are even more susceptible to this issue. Clothing layers can make children become even more likely to become dehydrated. The last thing you want is to have to take your child to the hospital due to dehydration during the winter. Not only could this risk viral exposure, but it will also leave you with medical expenses. For 62% of all bankruptcies, medical expenses are the main issue. Avoid those issues by taking preventative steps before any wintertime play.
Make sure that your children have water when they're playing outside, just as they should during the summer. When they come indoors, offer herbal teas rather than hot chocolate, as this will hydrate them more, as well as water-laden fruits like apples and pears. Don't forget: soup contains a lot of water and they'll love it after spending time out in the cold.
It's incredibly important for parents to keep in mind the risks that come with having their children play outside during the winter. Don't underestimate how seriously you need to take this issue. With the right precautions, however, you and your children can have a wonderful winter!