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A 9-Step Guide on How to Dress for Winter

My kids don’t know how to dress for winter.

Since 2003 we have spent a grand total of 1 winter in Minnesota. The rest of our winters have been spent in the hottest inhabited country on the planet. When the “cold” temperatures register at 80 degrees Fahrenheit there is no need for snow pants, boots, scarves, mittens, hats, long underwear, face masks, wool socks…

Now we are here for our second winter, and while in Minnesota this month, the temperature is sometimes 140 degrees colder than our summer temperature. Can I just say it? That’s cold.

djiboutian in winter clothes

My kids are experts at what to do with sandy beach towels, swimsuits, and bottles of sun block. They know what to wear to the beach, what to bring to change into for the drive home, and how to get from the ocean water to the car with a minimal amount of sand dragged into the vehicle. They know that nothing tastes as good as a glass of ice cold water upon arrival after a day at the beach.

But they have no idea what to do with snow-covered boots or half-frozen mittens. They don’t know how many layers are required for twenty-degree weather compared to negative zero weather or that thirty degrees is a pretty warm Minnesota day in December. They don’t know about hot chocolate and melty marshmallows.

They didn’t know how to stuff hats and mittens down the sleeves of their coats so as not to lose a pair on a daily basis, or where to put their coats while eating at a restaurant.

The first time my kids got dressed in the winter all three came out on to the porch, frustrated, bootless and coatless. Their heads were already covered with hats and their hands were covered with mittens. They held coats in their arms and kicked at the boots at their feet.

“How are we supposed to put our coats and boots on?” my son asked.

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. They looked so cute and Djiboutian in that moment. Mittened hands pulling at sleeves and shoe laces. I didn’t take a picture but I laughed.

“Mittens are last,” I said. “Boots come on and off at the door and you leap over the puddles of melting snow or leave a pair of slippers nearby to slide into.” I showed them how to shake off snow and where to hang wet clothes. And then we waddled outside and the kids started coughing at the burn in their lungs and nostrils from the cold air.

It didn’t take long though, for them to start licking snow, catching flakes on their tongues, and throwing snowballs at each other (though I did need to show them how to pack a good snowball).

Here are some winter-dressing tips, as suggested by three Djiboutian kids.

  • How to Dress for Winter 1 of 10
    winter clothes2

    Click-through for all the tips my family had to learn the hard way!

  • Always dress in warm layers … the more, the better! 2 of 10
    layers

    Cuddleduds, long underwear, triple-layered socks, three shirts and then a sweater and coat, scarves, hoods, hats, masks, gloves and mittens… pile it on, starting with the inner layer first.

  • First comes the snow pants! 3 of 10
    snow pants

    Snow angels cannot be made without snow pants, at least not by my warm-blooded Djiboutian kids. Snow pants are a must if you intend to play outside for any length of time and with any amount of falling into snow piles. But they also must come on first, before boots and coats and mittens.

  • Next, put on a warm coat 4 of 10
    winter coat

    My son has been known to attempt pulling on his coat upside down, not sure where this comes from. Maybe from his father who wears sweaters inside out and backwards. But I would suggest putting the coat on right-side up, zipping it to the chin (without zipping the skin in, another skill our kids had to learn), and pulling the sleeves all the way down to the wrist so snow doesn't sneak inside.

  • Always wear a hat 5 of 10
    winter hats

    Hats can come on in almost any point of the dressing process, depending on how far over the face you pull them. Wearing a hat in this style could help save time by eliminating the next step ...

  • Keep your face covered 6 of 10
    face mask or scarf

    Without a face mask or scarf that snow and ice you see? It'll be hanging in snot-sicles from your nose. And the windchill in Minnesota gets bitterly, bitterly low. Even with a face mask or scarf sometimes it feels like ice is forming on our faces. Thinking about it another way, a brightly colored scarf can bring some pretty blue or yellow or green to the otherwise drab white and gray and black of winter colors.

  • Pull on a good pair of boots 7 of 10
    boots

    Native Minnesotans might be able to shovel bare-handed (for a while) but not many can tough it out without boots. So, after the snow pants and before the mittens, pull on a good pair of boots. Even if you have to steal your mom's or your husband's.

  • Mittens always come last 8 of 10
    winter mittens

    No matter what, mittens come on last. Otherwise everything else because that much more difficult. And now that you are properly layered and stuffed and bundled (a word we had to teach our kids, that it didn't refer to carrying a bundle of sticks on the back), head outside and enjoy the snow.

  • Warm up! 9 of 10
    heat

    Hot chocolate, a warm fire place, coffee, heated bed buddies … anything to warm up frosty toes and fingers is of first importance when play time is over.

  • Happy Snow-Balling! 10 of 10
    snowballs1

    Stay warm!

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