A New Park and a Winter Picnic

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Brr, it has been chilly the last few days. It’s taking me much longer than usual to get Tom and myself dressed in the mornings – we’re both wandering around wearing enough layers to be cosy in the arctic!

We’ve been trying not to let the cold scare us off going out. Mostly pretty successfully. We’ve walked to and from nursery every day that Tom goes, he and Mr Techno have started their weekly nature club, and Tom and I spent a great weekend wandering around the Marshes and Springfield Park.

Wednesday is my day off, and Mr Techno had to work, meaning family day has had to be postponed until Sunday. Irritatingly, the parcels that were supposed to be delivered earlier in the week hadn’t turned up, so we had to make a trip to the sorting office, a half hour walk away. As Tom has taken to napping late into the afternoons, it had to be a morning trip, which wasn’t going to leave us much time to get there and back before Tom wanted lunch.

I was determined not to give up our outdoor playtime, so had a good look on Google maps and spotted a little park close to the sorting office; one we had never been to before. And so a plan was hatched – we’d pick up the parcels, have a play in the park, then have a winter’s picnic before heading home for Tom’s nap.

The park turned out to be pretty small, with not much open space. But that didn’t matter at all as it had a huge play area. My one complaint about our local park is that even the toddler equipment doesn’t have easy to climb steps, so Tom needs help using it. No such issues here – there were perfect Tom-sized structures.

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After a good play, we settled down on a bench to enjoy a sandwich and grape lunch.

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By this point we were both pretty cold, despite our layers and the winter sun. So it was time to walk home for cuddles and naps.

I’m glad we made the effort to fit in some outdoor play and discovered a new park into the bargain!



Life Unexpected

Dressing a Baby in Winter

As an anxious new mum, I can remember spending a lot of time worrying about whether Tom was dressed right – too hot? too cold? too hampered by his layers? A well-meaning colleague had handed down one of those gro egg room thermometer thingys, and it seemed always to be telling me that the room was the wrong temperature. Fortunately, it broke after about a month, which was very helpful in lowering my stress levels!

As this is now my second winter with Tom, I hope I’ve learnt a few things about how to dress him appropriately for the weather. In the hope that it might be helpful to other new mums, I thought I’d put a post together comparing what Tom wore as at this time of year as a three month old with what he is wearing now as an active, outdoor fifteen month old.

Indoors

We had the heating on a lot more this time last year – 6 hours a day compared with 3 hours now. Tom was only able to scoot slowly around on his back though, where as now he never stays still for a moment.

Tom then – long sleeved vest, long-sleeved t-shirt or cardigan, trousers, and a pair of socks, with sock-ons to keep them on. If I was feeling especially lazy, he might have worn a sleepsuit instead of the t-shirt and trousers. Because the heating was on so much, he only needed a jumper indoors on the very coldest days.

Tom now –  it’s pretty cold in our flat during the day. Tom wears a short-sleeved vest, short-sleeved t-shirt, jumper, trousers and socks. The other day when it snowed, he also wore a pair of tights under the trousers and socks. Sometimes I will add an extra pair of socks, jumper or his dressing gown if he looks chilly.

Outdoors

Last year, Tom spent most of his time outdoors snuggled in the buggy or close to me in our wrap sling. We were rarely out for longer than half-an-hour at a time. Tom had just been diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, so we were spending most of our time going to doctor’s appointments and the hospital, trying to get a date for him to have an operation.

This year, we are out for at least an hour each day, often more. Tom either rides in the buggy, on my back in the carrier, or walks/runs by himself.

Tom then – in addition to his indoor clothes, he would wear a jumper and an all-in-one snow-suit, which had built in mittens and covered his feet. Depending on how cold it was, I either added a hat or just put up the hood of the snow suit.  We got him a cosy footmuff for Christmas, but before then he was under a blanket in the buggy, or sharing my body warmth in the sling. We tended not to go out when it was wet, but if we did I’d have the raincover on the buggy.

Tom now – over his indoor layers, I add a thickly lined waterproof jacket. He also wears a hat and his rain footies. If it is especially cold I add mittens (which he takes off and tries to lose), and an extra pair of socks. Sometimes a scarf. We still have the footmuff on the buggy. I struggle to get him into the carrier on my back when I’m wearing a thick coat, so we have been using that less since it got colder. If it rains, I put his hood up and add a pair of waterproof trousers. We still use the raincover if he’s in the buggy. He will soon start wearing shoes if it is especially cold out.

Sleep

This was the toughest one in the early days. I’d put Tom down warm from his bath, with the heating still on. But whatever he wore had to be warm enough to last him the cold hours of the night, especially as he was still waking several times (every 45 bastard minutes. I’m still traumatised now) Now days, Tom sleeps through and the house isn’t as warm when I put him down, so there is less debate over what to put him in.

Tom then – long-sleeved vest under a long-sleeved sleepsuit. We had some thicker, fleecy ones for especially cold nights. Initially he was swaddled, with one or two of those light weight cellular blankets. The zip on the swaddle broke mid-way through November, so we moved him into a 2.5 tog sleeveless sleeping bag instead (this probably contributed to the night-waking – we should really have kept him swaddled for at least another month). There is a really helpful chart here that I used to use to gauge if he was dressed right.

Tom now – short-sleeved vest under a pair of long sleeved pyjamas or a sleepsuit. Some of his pyjamas have feet, which I tend to use on colder nights. He uses a 2.5 tog sleeping bag, with no sleeves. He also sleeps with a blanket, but as a comforter rather than a cover. It usually ends up underneath him. I sometimes add a pair of socks and his dressing gown when he gets up for breakfast.

No pics sadly – not my first thought when I’m putting Tom to bed!

Top Tips

Babies have cold extremities. If you are trying to judge if they are warm enough, check their back and chest, not their hands or feet.

Look out for signs of overheating – flushed face, sweatiness, irritability – or coldness – blue lips, shivering, fretful crying.

Babies actually need colder rooms than you would think. A healthy temperature for a nursery is 16-20 degrees Celsius.

The best rule of thumb is to dress your baby in roughly what you are wearing, plus one light layer. So if I am heading out in a t-shirt, jumper, jeans and a coat, Tom will be wearing about the same, but with an additional vest and hat. The footmuff on the buggy makes up for the relative difference in activity between us if he is riding rather than walking along.

For advice on dressing young toddlers for even colder climates, there is a great post here from a mum who grew up in Scandinavia.

For advice on keeping yourself warm on long walks or hikes, see this post from the Helpful Hiker.

Hope you all stay warm this winter – and have plenty of outdoor play!

A Wintry Day in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow

After all the dire predictions that this winter would be the coldest winter in half-a-century (and other similarly doom-laden statements), the incredible mildness of the autumn months had lured me into a bit of a false sense of security. So it was a bit of a shock to look out of the window on Saturday morning and discover it was actually snowing. Quite heavily. And it is still only November.

I quickly grabbed Tom, and woke up Mr Techno, excitedly pointing out at the falling whiteness. Unfortunately the snow fall was relatively short, and none of it settled, but Tom was fascinated to see it.

Though the snow was brief, the cold was not, and we experienced our first properly cold day of this winter so far. After a morning of reading stories under blankets, we’d had enough of being indoors. Luckily the day had become one of those lovely clear days you get sometimes when it’s cold. I felt like a bit of a change from our usual haunts, so we headed into Walthamstow to visit Lloyd Park.

I love Lloyd Park. It’s a bit of a way from us, so we don’t get there that often, but it’s a really pretty park and, best of all, is home to the William Morris Gallery.

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The Gallery is housed in the childhood home of William Morris, one of Walthamstow’s most famous former residents. Most people know of the Victorian designer for his pivotal role in the Arts and Crafts movement, or his signature nature-inspired wallpaper patterns, but Morris was also a fervent socialist and a campaigner against the harmful ‘restoration’ of old buildings. In fact, in 1877 he was one of the co-founders of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the organisation I now work for.

As you can imagine, I have been round the Gallery a few times. I haven’t taken Tom as yet – though the Gallery is very family friendly and has some great exhibits for kids, they are better suited to slightly older toddlers (I’d say three and up).

We gave it a miss on Saturday as well, preferring instead to explore the gardens and park. It is really well equipped – play areas, basketball and tennis courts, a skate park, bowling greens, and open spaces. There is also a Children’s Centre, and, most importantly for trips with kids, two cafes – one in the Gallery and a more, ahem, affordable (read dirt cheap) one by the play area.

Tom, however, was interested in one thing only. The park has a moat, which is home to several species of ducks, Canadian Geese, and moorhens. Tom was in love. There was no hope of dragging him away from his new feathered friends, so I resigned myself to missing out on the playground. It’s just a shame I hadn’t thought to bring any bread with us.

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Despite the cold, we had a lovely afternoon in the park and were thrilled to see so many families doing the same. Plus Tom actually wore his hat and mittens for once, so we’ve finally justified buying them!

Life Unexpected

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Baby, It’s Dark Outside

Bad weather doesn’t really bother us in this house – we actually quite enjoy playing in the rain. But the clock change a few weeks ago and the resulting dark evenings are putting a bit of a limit on our outdoor time.

It’s fine on the days we are home – we just make more of an effort to get out earlier in the day. But our walk home from nursery is now in the dark, so we have lost the lovely half hour of playtime in the park we used to have.

I don’t really know what to do about this. Work would frown on me leaving an hour earlier just so Tom can get some extra playtime. His nursery are great at getting them outside during the day but are, understandably, more wary of bad weather than we would be. Plus their play area is very much a playground, not a wild space. I want Tom to have some actual time in nature each day.

I have been letting him out of the buggy once we reach the floodlit area of the park, which helps, but it would be easy for a little person to get knocked down by cyclists who don’t spot him in the dark. I’ve been sticking pretty close as a result, so he can’t explore as freely as he used to.

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The only solution I can think of is getting a bike light and attaching it to him somehow. Anyone tried that? Does it work or do they just find a way to remove it? Any other tips for managing outdoor play now the days are shorter?