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It is a cold February day. A delicate layer of frost edges the corner of each window and mounds of snow smooth over bushes and trees. Birds are huddled under eaves, fluffing their feathers, reminding you that winter is well and truly here. Meanwhile, the kids are hunched behind computer screens, or tapping their feet to the tunes emanating from their hand held device. And you are thinking, I’ve just got to figure out some way to get the kids outside!

With the average child spending more than 7 and ½ hours per day in front of some kind of glowing screen (TV, DVD, Computer, Games etc.), encouraging outdoor play, even during those coldest of winter days, becomes more critical than ever. Richard Louv came up with the thought provoking phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder,” to describe the effects on our children if they don’t go outside. Louv cites spiraling levels of obesity, increased incidence of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), feelings of stress and a general sense of feeling disconnected from the natural world as the unintended consequences of a childhood spent indoors.

From TV, computer games, Wiis and Xboxs, our society has created many enticing reasons for kids not to go outside. Children are easier to monitor when they stay indoors. They are ‘safer” inside. And, in the age of multi-tasking we can “look after them” while we are busy doing something else and we have the satisfaction of knowing that they are being entertained.

And yet, if we have the fortitude and gumption to get our kids off the couch and into the magic of a winter’s day, we not only provide exercise and fresh air, we help to forge a real and lasting connection between our children and the outdoors. If we give our children some winter experiences in nearby fields, forests and green spaces, we’ll help them to recognize, as John Muir once said, that if we “tug at a single thing in nature, we’ll find it connected to the rest of the world.”

So redeem this very winter day. Grab your hat, mitts, warm boots and winter jacket and don’t forget the kids! Experience the exhilaration of winter while the air is crisp, sharp and clear. The spring thaw will come far too soon! Here are our 5 things we like to do outside in winter:

  • Snowshoeing – this is a great low-impact (unless you tip over) activity that everyone should try at least once. Your oversized feet will feel awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll appreciate their ingenious construction.
  • Cedar Tea – this is an easy and tasty way to warm up. Collect about 5-6 sprigs of cedar leaves, plop them in some boiling water and let it steep until the water becomes a golden colour (5-8 minutes). You can add honey or maple syrup to sweeten it up.
  • Cross Country Skiing – this peaceful stretch of the legs not only helps you get some winter exercise, but also lets you relate to nature. The only noise you will generate is some heavy breathing and the shushing of your skis across the snow which gives you opportunity to meet woodland neighbours.
  • Winter Bird Checklist – prepare a checklist of bird species and get those binoculars out. You can find out which birds are typical for your region by visiting Project FeederWatch at and click on “Explore”.
  • Plan Your Gardens – we just had a meeting about our garden plans for 2020! Yes, the dead of winter is a great time to plan and you can utilize the snow to mark out your plans. Be sure to use paper and pencil as well because your onsite markings will disappear!

Tell us what you like to do outside in winter…maybe there is a unique idea we can share in our February newsletter. Send your ideas to