Feature Friday | Jessica | The Great Outdoors of Utah

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Feature Friday | Jessica | The Great Outdoors of Utah

Winter in Utah can be a daunting time with young kids. Kids need exercise and sunshine, but with the gray skies, inversion and cold temperatures, sometimes it is just so hard to get outdoors and enjoy what's in our own backyard.  Skiing is something I definitely look forward to teaching my children, but with the fact that I still have somewhat young kids (five and almost three) we may wait a few more years before embarking on skiing. Plus, we want to get out often, and with the expense of skiing, it's nice to have a few more (free!) options to utilize in the winter months.

My family loves the mountains year round, and winter is no exception. When the valley has little to no snow we head twenty minutes up the canyon to find plenty of fresh powder and often times blue skies. 

Here are four of my favorite tips for taking your kiddos into the outdoors in the winter:

1. Invest in great clothes. Nice snow clothes are not inexpensive, so I try to make them last as long as possible. However, I don't buy name brand snow clothes, my kids don't need a North Face jacket that they will only fit in for two years.

I always buy coats two sizes too large in hopes that I'll get two winters out of them (both kids are wearing the same coats they did last year!). I always try to buy real down filled coats for the kids. The poly stuff is just not nearly as warm. Luckily, for the last two years Costco has sold real down coats for kids for only $25 (which is unheard of). They are the best coats they've ever owned. Brand is Snozu. I've seen them for little more than retail on eBay. 

  • Hats and gloves can last more than one year, as long as they don't get lost. Always make sure you've got them when you leave. Obvious, I know, but sometimes when you've got crying kids a lost glove isn't a big deal. Always keep track of their gear. Our rule is not letting them take them off while we are out, unless we stop and stow into a pack. We got our kids' mittens at Costco and love them. Warm and easy to get on and off. 
  • Snowpants I always buy big. Once they have their boots on it doesn't matter if there is extra fabric at the bottom, again, try to make them last more than a year. And hand-me-downs are so easy. My youngest has never had new snow pants, they've all been hand-me-downs from her older brother. 
  • Boots, I said above I don't buy name brand but for boots I do. I have found Sorel boots on eBay for 60% off what the stores sell them for. I buy gender neutral so my youngest can grow into her brother's outgrown boots. "Cheap" boots from Target or Walmart aren't that much cheaper than name brand Sorels if your willing to buy on eBay. 

2. Lots of snacks. We always get hungry when we are out and about and a handful of trail mix does wonders to everyone's attitude. Plus, an M&M bribe sometimes is the only thing that helps get a cranky kid to walk. Also water. Sometimes when it's cold you can't imagine you'll be thirsty, but we are always thirsty. Bring water for sure. 

3. Make it fun. We don't hike far with the kids. We mix it up with sledding, throwing snow and ice into the river, and letting them choose the path. It's all about exploring and being outside more than a set route. 

4. Leave before everyone melts down. Oftentimes we are having so much fun the kids don't want to leave. If we push past lunch time when everyone is hungry and cranky we leave with sobbing kids saying "I don't ever want to do that again" instead of happy kids that can't wait to go back. 

Anything I missed? What do you do to keep kids happy in the outdoors (especially in the winter)?

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