That doesn't mean we won't ever go outside during the cold months. I like to get Kiley outside as much as possible even in the winter because I am a firm believer in the axiom that fresh air is good for you. It's not just the freshness of the air outside that is beneficial, it is also the freshness of the surroundings, the change of scenery. Spending too much time trapped in the house has a bad effect on children. I can see it in Kiley after a string of rainy days. Being confined to the kitchen and family room areas of my house gets to her after a while, and she starts going stir crazy. All the toys in the world can't change that. To relieve this I'll often allow her to spend some time in the living room, which she sees as a real treat. She loves it in the living room even though there are no toys, TV or anything special to do in there. It's just the change of scenery, something different; that makes the living room desirable to her, that and the lure of the forbidden.
When she gets really antsy I let her go upstairs which is like another whole world to her. If the living room is a treat to her, the upstairs is nirvana. There is like a whole new universe up there for her to explore – four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a big hallway. I let her climb the steps herself to reach this wonderland which is an adventure in itself. She loves to climb. We get on the king-sized bed and roughhouse. I sometimes even fill the tub with warm water and let her play in it like a pool. She brings some floaty –toys in with her. She loves the tub.
Despite the many joys that can be found inside, none of it can compare to the outside. Kiley loves to be outside. Outside is where freedom lives, even though I am with her the whole time. In the warm weather she goes out in the backyard every day and I let her run barefoot in the grass. We have a baby pool for her and a baby swing. My husband and I made a "secret garden" for her, tucked away in an isolated corner of the yard. She has to go through a gated arbor to enter it, covered with flowering vines, and there is a little bench where she can sit surrounded by flowers and little garden sculptures. She loves it in there, even though the butterflies scare her sometimes, and she likes to have the arbor gate closed behind her once she has entered. I suspect the older she gets the more appealing the "secret garden" will be; that is until she gets so old that the magic dims.
|The "Secret Garden" when it was first planted. Before it became overgrown and wild!|
I plan to take her outside as much as possible in the winter as well, because she likes it so much. There won't be as much to do in the cold, but the fresh air and change of scenery will do her good. When it snows she'll have a blast. You have to keep a close eye on little ones when they are outside in the winter, even more so than in the summer. In the summer a little sunscreen is all they need for protection against the elements, but the cold is much more dangerous than the sun and much harder to gauge. I'll have to keep a close eye on the weather reports this winter with a special interest in the wind and the chill factor. Fifteen or twenty minutes outside in the cold is about as much as toddlers can bear. You have to be sure to keep their fingers and ears covered and keep a close eye on their faces. When their cheeks turn red it is time to go in.
Once the holidays are over and we get into the deep winter of January and February the opportunities for outside forays become limited. You don't want to take a toddler outside when it is twelve degrees. It looks to be a long winter coming up but an eventful one. Kiley will turn one year old this winter, in January, and by the time the flowers start sprouting again she'll probably start talking. I predict one of the first words she learns will be "outside" – right after "Mommy", "Daddy" and, of course, "Nan".