Get Outside this Winter: Here’s How (and Why!)


Here’s your sign that getting outside this winter is achievable. Our family lives in a small space, a duplex in the Bay View neighborhood. For us, that means that having a lot of indoor toys isn’t really an option. We also don’t have a space for a designated playroom or a basement to run around in. The only place we can go to get our energy out is outside. In Wisconsin Winters, it can be tricky, but not impossible. Once I resolve to make getting outside a priority, it’s actually not so bad.

My goal in the winter is just to get out. I don’t have a timeline and I’m not forcing anyone to stay outside in the cold to be miserable. Usually we’re all ready to come in for warm drinks and snuggles between fifteen minutes and two hours. Committing to getting outside in Wisconsin winters doesn’t mean you’re going to be out all day. Give yourself permission to make an attempt, and come back in whenever needed.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing” or something of the sort. This is very true, but I’m intimately acquainted with the fact that “good” clothing is not cheap, and can be the biggest hinderance to families spending time outside in the winter. No, we don’t have winter gear with brand names. If we do, those items were thrifted or handed down from friends or family. Mostly, we have a smattering of warm-ish gear that keeps us warm enough to get outside for about an hour at a time.When it’s a mild winter, things are often muddy so we bundle up anyway, knowing we’re coming home with a pile of mud on our snow pants, coats, gloves and boots. This is expected, so I don’t try to stop it. Mild winters can be fun because you can still spend time near the water, but it’s a new experience compared to summer! 

Wisconsin winters with lots and lots of snow are fun for obvious reasons. There are more options: sledding, skiing, snow shoeing and building snow people. But hikes and walks are equally as fun in the snow – it makes everything more magical and fun! 

Super duper cold winters are the hardest for reasons like frostbite and weather advisories. But there are still things to do! Commit to exploring a pond or frozen creek for 15 minutes before heading back to the warm car. Walk quickly around the block to get chilly enough to make some cocoa that much more enjoyable. It’s the getting out that matters most. 

You’ll find us in all kinds of places outside in the winter, even at the playground.

In our house, we like to talk about getting outside as “moving our bodies,” “getting fresh air,” or “nature adventures.” We use it as a motivator to find new and fun things, to get in touch with the world around us. It also helps that the other people who brave Wisconsin Winters are often incredibly friendly, and happy to see another smiling face. 

If you’ve been too nervous to brave Wisconsin winters or didn’t know where to start. If you don’t think you have the right gear or enough will power, here’s your sign to just give it a try. See how it goes for 15 minutes at a time. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up loving it! And if you’re one of the “crazy ones” who is out there with their kids, say hello next time you see us! 


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