Deep minuses had had me worried and it wasn’t long after arriving in Uppsala before we were to experience our first -20C (-4F). Thankfully I we were prepared, with the greatest help coming from Hugo’s teacher who emailed us about all the gear we need, before we moved.
Over the past month I’ve not had one complaint of being cold from the kids and we’ve been out enough. At school they are outside a fair few hours a day.
The principles of dressing kids appropriately for the cold weather that I’ve learnt so far:
1, Dress for 20C/ 68F
On a normal school day the kids dress for 20C/ 68F because the classrooms are well heated.
They don’t have uniforms, so they get to choose what they wear.
Hugo wears a vest top, a long-sleaved t-shirt and a jumper on top; pants, denims and regular socks on the bottom.
Angelina gives a variation to Hugo’s layers by switching denims to a skirt and tights or a dress and tights once in a while.
They both have casual shoes for indoors, which they change into at school (or they can walk around in their socks).
For non-school days, when it’s a cold day- under 2-3C- and we are heading outdoors the kids will wear woollen long johns and long-sleeved woollen tshirts, thick woollen socks (,but socks never too thick to make their boots or shoes tight…then I’m defeating the purpose).
(I banish cotton from our winter wardrobes. Perfect for the summer, but it can cause hyperthermia in the winter because it holds sweat close to the body.)
Then depending on how active we’ll be all the time we are out and how cold it is I will add:
- Tracksuit or fleece trousers (very often I use plain PJ bottoms)
- A fleece body warmer for active and no colder than -10C days; a long-sleeved fleece jumper or a thick woollen jumper for colder days or when we are likely to be standing around any more than 10-15 minutes (even around a campfire.)
2, Then add an outershell
What cold-proofs the kids is really their outerwear:
Angelina and Max have Helly Hansen snowboots. I picked these up at TK Maxx at a reasonable price. These are a good fit, with rubber bottom part to ensure waterproofness, but aren’t breathable. They have a nice warm lining. These boots work well as long as the kids aren’t in a warm environment with them for their feet to sweat into.
Hugo got a pair of snowboots from Decathlon (Quechua Arpenaz 100). These boots don’t have any rubber bottom part, but are fabric. They are certainly more breathable. They are supposed to be waterproof, but in my experience they are more water resistant than waterproof. They cope with slushy roads, but not with puddle jumping. On the otherhand, they are super easy to put on, take off and secure with a wide Velcro strap. They are a good height on the calf too and coped well with sledging, no snow getting in.
Image courtesy of Decathlon
- Ski trousers
All kids have Decathlon ski trousers- Wed’ze Firstheat ski trousers.
Angelina’s have done very well.
Image courtesy of Decathlon
Hugo has tested his to the full and his knees are in tattlers. The trousers really need some special reinforced material at the knees. However, they have been warm enough and waterproof enough for wet iceskating, playing in muddy playgrounds and the forest.
Max got an all-in one ski suite- this makes getting him ready so much easier and I’m reassured he is snug without clothes riding up. He has been out with just PJs underneath.
- A lofty waterproof jacket
What makes a good jacket? It’s relatively light, durable, waterproof, yet very importantly (in these cold condition with kids still getting sweaty from running around) breathable.
We seem to have been very lucky with our choices- Angelina wears a Polarn o pryet, which I adore (and so does she- we reviewed the jacket last year) and Hugo has a … which I bought from TK Max 3 or 4 years ago and is serving the second child. I like that they both are a bit brighter and it’s easier to distinguish my kids in these jackets.
- Ski gloves
We tried the first week with just simple thinner knitted gloves and I was advised to buy them “proper gloves”.
Again Decathlon came to the rescue with reasonably priced ski gloves. (I’m not under any commission from them I promise!) These gloves aren’t waterproof, but they stay relatively warm even if wet.
The gloves have little loops on them, so I’ve looped these under the velcro wrist fastening on the kids’ jackets. This means the kids can be pull the gloves on and off, but stay attached to the coat and the kids are less likely to loose them.
- Good hats
Not a thin knitted one, but a fleece lined one.
Angelina is my worst one for wearing a hat. She’ll just pull up her coat hood most of the time. That seems ok to about -10C, but anything colder and her forehead started to hurt from the cold.
- Scarf is preferred
Angelina’s Polarn o pyret jacket actually is a good enough fit to overcome the need for a scarf. It’s well engineered.
Hugo has been using a fleecy Buff. It’s a trendy pirate design that he sometimes, if cold, pulls over his mouth and nose too. It’s worked really well for him.
Max’s all-in-one, again, zips up high enough and tight enough to negate a scarf.
These are the basics and I almost think this is the easy part. The next points are essential:
3, Everyone sings from the same hymn sheet
What makes this system of layer work is that all the adults in the children’s lives reinforce the message of putting on all the layers: teachers, after school club teachers, parents, everyone!
At home, in the UK, it was all too common to see children in the school playground without even coats on when the teachers were wrapped to the hilt. The excuse often being that they cannot force the children to get dressed, or have the time to check each of them. Somehow the Swedes make it work with similar class sizes.
On my second day, when picking up the kids from school I heard one of the teachers pull a child for not having his jumper on under his jacket. She sent him back inside to put it on before he was allowed to carry on with his game.
4, Kids are given the facilities
Another factor, I think, that is important is that the school has adequate hangers, hooks and cubby holes for the kids. The kids have a bench to change on and all their gear fits on their hook and their little bit of the shoe rack. I’m not saying it’s tidy, but it’s not an utter chaotic jumble either.
Did you find yourself nodding at any of these?
Have you got any other tips?
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