Every year around this time our family starts gearing up for what is (somewhat ominously) know as “the rainy season” here in Seattle. It’s a two part process, first we arm ourselves with the right gear, second with the right attitude.
Today I’m teaming up with our friends at Polarn O. Pyret to give you a detailed look at our techniques for making sure a little (or a lot of) rain doesn’t stop us from getting out of the house and enjoying nature.
I’m going to be sharing all of my tried-and-true methods and tips, such as:
- my layering and outerwear “must-haves” for sending the kids outside for hours on end during outdoor preschool or just in the back yard to play.
- tips on how to get kids quickly suited up in the morning without frustration or whining.
- my absolute favorite rain wear product ever for getting the kids outside and playing in under a minute (and then back inside and clean in under a minute once they’re done).
Also, Polarn O. Pyret is graciously offering 20% off all full priced items from Wednesday, October 23rd until midnight (PST) on Wednesday October, 30th. Just use the code “MODERNPOP” at checkout.
Ready for lots of good stuff? Here we go…
First up, the layering guide. This is something I’ve talked about before here but I think it bears repeating each year. Properly layering your littles for the cold and rain is the key to keeping them happy for hours upon hours when outside.
The secret is to use lots of thin layers that are both warm and water resistant so that the kids stay dry the whole time and have the option to shed or add layers if they get too hot or cold.
Here’s a snazzy little stop motion video I did to illustrate exactly what you need. Go ahead and take 55 seconds to watch it – it’s fun, you’ll like it, I promise.
Normally I’m not a big proponent of spending money on kid clothes because I encourage my kids to be active and messy and a lot of their clothes take a beating as a result. But dressing them for outside is where I make an exception.
I see these pieces as an investment in getting the kids outside all year round. I’m willing to spend my money on that because I know how great it is for them (and for me when I send them out to the backyard and I can finally get the dishes and laundry done!).
Tip: go for high quality and gender neutral stuff when purchasing your layers (we love Polarn O. Pyret stuff for these two reasons). It will pay off in the long run when you can re-use it year after year with successive kids! If you’re a long time reader, you’ll notice that S is using all of C’s gear from last year.
For a more detailed look at the layers we prefer, see this post I wrote last year about suiting the kids up for their outdoor preschool.
Once you have your layers, the next key to success is setting up a system for quickly and easily getting them on the kids before heading out the door. The last thing you want to do is spend an hour every morning recreating that scene from A Christmas Story where mom struggles to turn little brother into the marshmallow man.
Here are our tips for pain-free mornings:
- Lay out the warm under-layers (we prefer the merino wool function pants and tops) the night before with their regular clothes. When it’s a preschool day my 3 and 5 year old know to immediately get up, put on their “long underwear”, then their regular pants and shirt, and head down to breakfast.
- Get suited up “fireman style”. Place the rain boots inside the bottom cuffs of the rain pants and slip the handy elastic straps under the bottom. Roll the top of the pants down past the boots and place them below a hook with the coats. In the morning all the kids will have to do is step into the boots and pull up the suspenders. My kids LOVE that they’re getting ready just like fireman do and we sometimes play firedrill to see who can do it fastest.
- Directly above the waiting boots and rain pants, have a few designated hooks with jackets layered accordingly. This means we have the waterproof shells on the bottom and the fleece jackets on top so that the kids can get to them in the order they need them.
- Keep a box or bag of hats and gloves in the car. Some days you’ll need them and some days you won’t, depending on the weather. If you keep them in the car then you’ll always have them. (These fleece-lined hats with built-in ear protection are our favorites.)
- Use the “alligator hand” trick to quickly put on mittens. Mittens were recommended over gloves by the teachers at our outdoor preschool because having the fingers together keeps them warmer. We love these super warm lined mittens that go way up the kids’ arms to keep rain and snow out (they go over the fleece jacket and under the shell jacket and the velcro cuffs on the shell keeps everything waterproof and in place). To get them on quickly and easily, we’ve taught the kids to make an “alligator hand” (fingers pressed together and thumb down like an alligator getting ready to chomp) when we put them on. The motion gets the thumb into he tricky thumb hole just about every time.
Last but not least, I have to tell you guys about our absolute favorite “be playing outside in 2 minutes flat” piece of gear. As I said above, layering is perfect when the kids are going to be outside for hours because it allows them to adjust as they get hotter and colder – so that’s how we suit up for outdoor preschool, long hikes, etc.
At home, though, these fleece lined shell overalls are worth their weight in gold! They basically act like little mechanic overalls and will allow your kids to get out and play in absolutely any weather. If it’s rainy but not too cold, just slip it on over regular clothes with rain boots. If it’s snowy and freezing, add the fleece lining and you’ve got yourself a snowsuit.
We also use ours all the time when it’s not actually raining, but was raining earlier and everything outside is damp, wet, or soaked. When the slide and swings on our backyard play set have standing water I can still send the kids out to play on them in these suits (saves us from so many days having them stuck inside!) And when they’re done, it takes no time at all to unzip and step out of the suit and they’re clean and good to go.
This one article of clothing has totally shaped our family’s attitude towards getting outside. With the “rain suits”, as my kids refer to them, and boots waiting by the back door I can still send my kids out to play in the back yard daily. It’s a routine and they really don’t think twice about it.
Same thing with going to outdoor venues on the weekends. Last week we hit up a local amusement park/pumpkin patch a few hours after it rained and enjoyed much shorter lines and a lot less people because many families stayed home due to the soggy weather.
So that’s all the wisdom I have to share – I really hope you guys found some of the tips useful and that it will help you to keep the kiddos outside all year round!
Polarn O. Pyret is offering 20% off all full priced items from Wednesday, October 23rd until midnight (PST) on Wednesday October, 30th. Just use the code “MODERNPOP” at checkout.
Note: when you grab yourself some new gear, keep in mind that the swedes grow ‘em big over there – so these pieces tend to run big.
*Polarn O. Pyret sponsored this post and provided me with complimentary products to review. All opinions are 100% my own.
P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?