Coats, Mittens and Hats – Oh My, We’re Late!

Coats Mittens and Hats Oh My We're Late | thisgratefulmama.com

Winter took its sweet time showing up in MN this year. We enjoyed an extended fall, with temperatures hovering at or above freezing through much of December. If you’ve been to MN in the winter, you know it is not unusual for it to snow at the end of October – rain in December is almost unheard of. Then we took a trip to Florida over Christmas, and came back to actual winter.

Suddenly it matters if the kids have their coats zipped, and hats and gloves on before we go out the door. And since we’ve now entered the reality of subzero temperatures and wind chills, the car often needs to be warmed up for a bit before we drive.

You guys, I wasn’t ready for ‘real’ winter even though I had all of December to prepare for it. And it’s REAL. Yesterday it was colder in MN than it was in Antarctica. At 8 am, it was -13 degrees and felt like -30 with wind-chill. Brr!

With winter’s sudden arrival, I realized just how much I had forgotten. I have been seriously, SERIOUSLY, underestimating the amount of time and preparation it takes to get my pregnant self, two children, and all our STUFF out the door.

We have been late on more than one occasion. And when we get there…we’re a little discombobulated.

The only one to blame is me, and the fact that my brain has not adjusted to needing more time to get us ready and out the door. It no longer takes 5 minutes. It takes at least 10, and that assumes we know where all hats, gloves, and coats ARE, and that the two year old does not take them OFF after I put them on her.

Does anyone else have this problem?

I’ve RE-learned some important lessons about going out in winter weather with little kids now that winter has arrived.

How To Get Out The Door On Time With Small Children During Winter | thisgratefulmama.com

How To Get Out The Door On Time With Small Kids In Winter

  1. It is required to get my head out of the sand and check the weather the night before or first thing in the morning. This lesson was learned very quickly after being surprised with subzero temperatures while out and about with children who were not properly equipped with hats and gloves. Yes my friends, I’m THAT mom with the frozen, crying kids – mom of the year over here.
  2. Double the normal amount of time it usually takes you to get out the door. And if you have more than one child, add a minimum of 5 minutes per child. Trust me. It’s better to be early and calmly bundled up than to be underdressed and stressed when you get there.
  3. Pack the car first with all the stuff and start it BEFORE you try to dress your children in winter gear. This will prevent them from stripping off their hats and gloves while you’re outside.
  4. While you are packing the car, make your children use the bathroom to prevent potty panic and having to undress a child before even getting out the door. Always check diapers BEFORE you bundle them up. Changing a diaper afterwards is no small task…talk about being late!
  5. It is absolutely necessary to have a backup set of hats and mittens for each child by the door (preferably where only you can reach them so they don’t disappear). There is no guarantee you will be able to find what they need when trying to get out the door. Our kids like to play with them, or I find them soaking wet from snow play the day before (because I regularly forget to put them in the dryer).
  6. Yelling does not help things go faster. In fact, it makes things take MUCH longer. Speak softly. Crying children with wet faces in subzero temperatures does not work well. For anyone.And I know better – remember, I already learned what my impatience teaches my kids as I rush them out the door?
  7. Dressing warm is more important than fashion. I’m not a terribly fashionable girl as it is. When it is this cold, all effort at style goes out the window. I’ll take warm over cute any day.
  8. Oh yeah, don’t forget your own hat and gloves. Getting 2 kids out of car seats and into any building takes longer than you want to. Your ears and fingers will thank you.
  9. Accept it. Complaining and pining away for summer does not help either. We CHOSE to live in a state where the air HURTS your face in a matter of seconds, causing tears and boogers to freeze (yes that really does happen). It isn’t a choice to hibernate and stay inside – we could be in here until spring! That isn’t much of a life at all. So, layer, bundle, plan ahead, and go live life well.
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Oh Yes We Did. And Here’s Why.

Oh Yes We Did. And Here's Why. | Thisgratefulmama.com

What is a girl to do when it is 60 degrees on a Sunday in November?

Well, living in MN, you take full advantage of the day. It was gorgeous!  With the garage already clean and yard work finished, what else could we do?

We decided to get the most benefit out of the weather. We took the whole family outside and put up our Christmas lights during the first week of November.

Sigh. 

Yes. We are those people. The people I used to sigh at and say…why do we have to start with the Christmas SO early? Can’t we just enjoy Thanksgiving?

However, it seems I have had a change of heart. Here’s why:

  1. Last year our Christmas-light-hanging was both a comical and actual disaster: In fact, we embarrassed ourselves and cracked up some of our neighbors. Our failings caused one of them to take pity on us and come to help us. Not only were we ill-equipped (our ladder was too short, our poles were too short), but we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing. Hanging lights was a cinch at our old house with its low roof-line and gutters – where the clips easily attached and our short ladder was perfect. We were completely unprepared for the project at our new house. High peaks and no gutters is a whole new ball game. So, after being the neighborhood Tweedledee and Tweedledum last year, we decided to be both equipped and proactive this year.
  2. We acquired the right equipment: This year we bought this fancy pole that releases the hooks with a trigger. To say it made the job easier is an understatement. It worked SO much better. We also were able to borrow an extension ladder twice the size of our ladder from a generous neighbor. This time we were well equipped before we began. BUT, let me be clear…we still had some hiccups and I’m sure we still looked VERY funny while doing it because we still weren’t totally sure what we’re doing. Lots of trial and error, but less than last year. SO, I guess that means we’re getting better. Next year…we’ll be just like the professionals, right? Isn’t the third time a charm? Haha.
  3. The weather was fantastic: It was gorgeous out. 60 degree sunny days don’t really happen in MN. It was unseasonably warm and still is! A GIFT. It felt great to be outside and accomplish something. Last year it was chilly and because we were unprepared, it took forever. And ever. Freezing people who don’t know what they are doing – who break their lights so they no longer work after ALL that effort…well, our attitudes got a little cold last year. And, in MN, it could easily be 60 degrees today and be snowing and 20 degrees tomorrow and not warm up again until spring. NEVER, EVER waste a nice day in November in MN!
  4. We have small children: It takes two adults to hang lights, especially with someone on a very tall ladder. This means our children must be outside with us. We are simply lacking the desire to freeze (and hear our children complain that they are freezing) while we hang Christmas lights. For us, earlier is practical in SO many ways.
  5. We were in good company: Not only were we outside putting up our lights early, but our neighbor across the street was as well. You know – the kind soul who took pity on us last year and who knows exactly what he is doing. Thankfully, he only had to stop by once to hold the ladder. And, as we walked around our block today, we saw there are 6 other homes with lights up. As long as we’re not the very first…I’m ok with it.

So, we may be those people, jumping the gun on Christmas decorations, but let me tell you. It was WORTH IT. We got to be outside on a beautiful day. Because no one was freezing, it made a not-very-fun task manageable. And dare I say, enjoyable? Probably not. My husband was the one up high in the wind on the ladder…it may not have been very fun for him. Did I mention he’s pretty amazing?

So, when you drive by those houses with lights already up, remember this – they did it early and won’t be out there freezing with the rest of you who decide to wait until closer to December.

And perhaps they’re like me and still value Thanksgiving and weren’t even planning to turn the lights on until afterwards. But then, their 2 and 5 year old children pleaded to turn the lights on. Who could resist? They proceeded to display such sweet child-like joy and delight at those little white lights that it just seems silly to refuse to turn them on. Their smiles and faces almost made my heart pop. Seriously, I do think lights are pretty, but to these children, they’re A-MAZ-ING! And, their delight gave us the perfect chance to talk about how Christmas lights remind the world that Jesus is the true light of the world.

Plus, I like the way the lights show off the Grateful sign on our porch.

When do your lights go up?