Originally published: November 2021
Winter weather is a reality in Alberta, so braving the elements is an essential life skill for teens. It can be tough to venture out in the face of cold, wind, snow, and ice—but it’s important! Getting outside helps young people move more and sit less, and supports their mental health.
If your teen needs a little nudge to get active outdoors this winter, these life hacks can help.
As temperatures drop, talk with your teen about dressing for the weather. Encourage them to wear layers, so they can add or remove clothing to keep comfortable.
Of course, many teens know how to dress for cold weather—they simply choose style over comfort. If asking your teen to layer up feels like a losing battle, listen to their concerns and try to offer flexibility and choice. Try these tips:
- Negotiate a temperature range for when winter gear like jackets, toques, mitts, and boots is required. Be open to a different range for lighter gear like hoodies and shoes.
- Stay focused on keeping their head, hands, and feet warm and dry. Try not to stress too much about unzipped jackets or light sweaters.
- As much as possible, let your teen choose their gear, or even make it themselves. Try second-hand stores and online tutorials for tips on how to upcycle used clothing into cold weather items like sweaters, mitts, toques, socks, and insoles for boots.
Explore the great outdoors
Give your teen time, space, and opportunity to be outside. Resist the temptation to direct their activities. Let them spend time outside in ways that make sense to them.
You might be surprised at how curious and playful your teen can be—they may go for a winter walk, build a snow sculpture, or follow animal tracks. They may take photos, socialize with friends, or play pond hockey. It’s not the activity or destination that matters—the real win is quality time outside.
Shift the status quo
As a family, challenge the notion that outdoor activities are only possible in nice weather. Be intentional about getting out there, and take pride in adapting for all kinds of conditions. These ideas can help:
- Let your teen take the lead in planning outdoor activities. Be open to activities that suit their interests, even if they’re different than your own.
- Focus on having fun and being social. Many teens are more willing to head out when friends are involved. Encourage them to take part in after-school clubs and sports that involve time outside, and be sure to follow public health guidance.
- Start a new family tradition—go ice fishing, tobogganing, or winter stargazing! Use the My Active Family Bucket List for inspiration, and borrow equipment if you need it. Some recreation facilities, libraries, and community groups have lending programs for gear like snowshoes and skates. Friends and neighbours can also help.
- Keep doing routine daily activities outside, even when it’s cold and wet. Walk the dog together, bike to school or work, or go to the park! Instead of dwelling on the challenges the weather brings, focus on how good it feels to get moving outside.
- Help your teen build practical skills for the winter weather, like shoveling the driveway or clearing snow off the car. Show them how to build a winter shelter or campfire. Teach them how to make warm drinks and snacks.
This winter, think about the cold weather life hacks you’d like to try. Use these and other ideas to brave the cold and get active together! You’ll be glad you did.
Get tips to keep your family safe this winter at MyHealth.Alberta.ca: