February 22, 2013

How to Weatherize Your Kids for the Winter

When leaving for a summer outing, it takes roughly 11 seconds to get your kids out the door. They are dressed. They have brushed their teeth (mostly). They slide on some flip flops. They are ready for the daily adventure that lies ahead, so much so that you only need to say “Let’s go” once and you can do it without an exclamation point.

Leaving for a winter outing, on the other hand, takes exactly 2 hours, 30 minutes and 45 exclamation points.

I call this The Winter Effect.

The Winter Effect happens when your wife decides it’s time to start weatherproofing your children. Much like you insulate your house for the cold days of winter, your wife insulates your kids in 14 layers of clothes that keep them so warm you could cook bacon on them. (NOTE TO SELF: NEED TO TRY THIS.) The Winter Effect required-apparel for each kid includes:

Snow boots
Thermal underwear
Hooded sweatshirt over sweater
Coat over hooded sweatshirt over sweater
Earmuffs on top of hat
Hood from coat over earmuffs on top of hat
Two pairs of wool socks
Ski Mask

Understanding the Winter Effect is difficult for us dads, as we wear shorts year round. In order to explain it, I’ve decided to use terms and references guys are more likely to understand. The Winter Effect usually starts sometime around the World Series and lasts until Opening Day. The ballpark price of clothing needed to insulate your kids is roughly the same price as buying an actual ballpark. And if you make the poor executive decision not to follow your wife’s wishes to weatherize your kids, your wife will weatherize herself each and every night before bed, leaving you to celebrate Pantsless Thursdays all by yourself.

The Winter Effect causes every kid in your house to move slower than a 7th inning pitching change. They’ll act shocked (SHOCKED!) when you ask them to put on their own coats. Also, they’ll look at you as if instead of saying “put on your coat” you said “sit and do nothing.” So you become tasked with putting each layer on each kid, which they make difficult by doing things like “running away from you” and “complaining.”

Middle Daughter: Dad, why did you put my hat on Mia!?!
Me: Your hat? You both have the same hat. They are identical.
Middle Daughter: No they aren’t.
Me: What makes them different?
Middle Daughter: The difference is THIS ONE IS MINE!

It’s conversations like this, mixed with the number of clothing items you need to apply to each kid, that make it impossible to actually leave your house and to make it to any event on time. Let me give you an example:
Subject A, who has no kids, is heading to a rock concert that starts at 8 PM. Subject A wakes up from a nap at 7:15 and is showered, dressed and out scraping the wintry ice off his windshield by 7:20.

Subject B, who has kids, is heading to the grocery store to buy more Dora Band-Aids. Subject B has been changing diapers, cleaning up Play Doh and tending to a sprained knee from a rather aggressive game of Ring Around the Rosy since approximately 6 AM. Subject B plans to get out the door (with the kids) at 4 PM, so he starts weatherizing his kids at 3 PM. He finally steps foot outside at precisely 5:45 PM. (It’s also worth noting that 10 minutes later he realizes he forgot the diaper bag.)
Why do I bring this up? Mainly to let you know that you are not alone, my friend. I spend most of my non-sleeping, non-working hours putting some layer of clothes on someone in my house—be it me, one of my kids or Sylvia the Cabbage Patch Doll. It is not easy and it challenges one of the most sacred virtues of fatherhood: Punctuality. But I do it every morning, and not just because of not-so-idle threats by my wife. I do it because I love my kids. I do it because I care about their well-being and I want them to be warm and cozy even in the bitter cold. And, most important, I do it because if I didn’t, I’d be serenaded each car ride by a chorus of “Dad, we forgot my scarf! I can’t live without it! I need it! I need it! I need it!” Then tears. Then loud tears. Then meltdown.

So embrace The Winter Effect and weatherize your kids every morning. If you practice long and hard enough, you may be able to do it in 2 hours and 25 minutes, leaving you a whole 5 minutes to daydream about summer. And the beach club episodes of Saved by the Bell. (Thank goodness Zach figured out how to throw two parties in the clubhouse at once!)

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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Annie said...

Very funny post...and boy, can I relate. My kids spend their formative years in Norway. We used the same two hours to put on winter wear...the only difference being, there WAS only 2 hours of daylight. I would get everyone dressed only to have the sun go down...or one of the kids tell me they had to go to the bathroom and the whole process would start over again.

Larry said...

Nice post. Very relatable.
I so agree how it used to be so much easier to leave the house. If you ask me, my 2 boys winter coats/accessories are interchangable yet if I give one son the other's stuff, it as if I committed a crime.
Baseball analogy is very timely.