Crickey, it’s so cold! Okay, but let’s go out and get some (fresh) air

autumn-family

It’s cold. Proper cold. 

Now we are deep into November we can definitely say that the lovely warm days of summer are just a distant memory: the time of the year has come when cold and rain dominate. 

And to think that, just three months ago, we were on the beach, or anyway relaxing somewhere away from the city and our daily routine. Going out with our children was a joy, spending our days playing in the park, with the sun setting late in the day…ah, the nostalgia!

Oh well, it is what it is. Even this season we are in has its plus points though: being inside in the warm, the pleasure of eating yummy savoury and sweet dishes even if they are, sadly, a little bit too high in calories (hot chocolates, polenta, cakes and biscuits to ‘dunk’ into a lovely hot tea, and so on).

Of course, we are often tempted to shut ourselves indoors, especially if the weather is not the best: low temperatures and the rain immediately dampen our resolve to go out. And if we grownups get lazy, and get intimidated by the cold and rain (especially because ‘what if I get sick?’), imagine how willing we might be to go out with our kids…

Well, nothing could be more wrong. 

Especially when our children are very young, we easily worry and become hyper-protective: a little windy weather, or a drop in temperature, and we convince ourselves that they have to remain indoors, in the warm.

The idea itself is not necessarily wrong: children, especially if small, need to keep warm (and to be wrapped up warm when they go out), as they have not yet fully developed the ability to regulate their body temperature. Hat, scarf, gloves are absolutely essential to protect our children from earaches and chest infections…and nobody can deny it 🙂

The problem is however that often we go over the top in order to protect our little ones from seasonal illnesses, and we completely stop them from going outside. This is not the right solution. 

Even paediatricians say so: it is not the cold that causes children to get sick, quite the opposite. So says Dr. Susanna Esposito, director of Paediatrics of the Fondazione Policlinico di Milano and President of the Italian Society of Paediatric Virology  (SITIP): “In reality, if they are wrapped up warm and going outdoors in the central hours of the day, children have a lower chance of being exposed to viruses than if they were staying indoors for long periods in places with poor air circulation. In fact, close contact with other children, or more specifically, with people who are unwell, is one of the primary ways in which infectious diseases can spread.” 

If we think about it for a moment, what actually increases bacteria and virus proliferation is remaining for long periods inside closed spaces, especially if public. The post office, school, tram, metro or bus are all crowded places with little air circulating around: the ‘diseased’ air of these spaces is certainly not good for our health. It is for this reason that it is advisable to open up windows in public spaces in winter months to let the air circulate, in order to keep it fresh and avoid the spread of viruses and bacteria.  

For our children the same is true: paradoxically it is much more frequent and likely that they will get sick while they are at school, by being in close contact with their school friends for many hours in the same classroom. This just confirms that, rather than the cold and the low temperature, it is viruses and bacteria that cause them to get ill. 

autumn-child

Therefore, why automatically say no to our children if they ask us to go and play in the park even when it’s cold? It makes no sense, at the end of the day. Quite the contrary! When playing outdoors, our children: 

– can breathe in much cleaner (even if a lot colder at times) air than that they breathe in closed spaces

– have fun and avoid spending all their afternoons on the sofa in front of the telly or tablet 

-strengthen their immune system against viruses and bacteria 

Naturally, there are some things we need to take care of:

Wrapping up our little ones properly with gloves, scarf and woolly hat is the best way to protect them from colds and throat infections, as well as earaches and chest and lung infections.  Paediatricians recommend that you should take them out for a walk or to play during the central hours of the day, the warmest ones.

By following these suggestions, the idea of practising a sport outdoors also becomes less unthinkable: football, athletics, rugby. They can do anything, as long as they have the right clothing!

Sports aside, taking your kids out for a walk even during the cold season is still an excellent idea! A simple walk can become a fun way to pass the time for us and for our children too. 

Walking around our local roads or the park, you will find a beautiful carpet of red and yellow leaves, perfect to create fantastic decorations. Have you ever thought about that? This season’s colours are stunning and, with just a little imagination, even some simple leaves or sprigs can become useful items to create gorgeous pictures. 

You can collect a load of leaves and then use them to create a beautiful wreath, for example! All you need to do is cut out a round cardboard shape roughly the size of your child’s head and staple all the leaves onto it. If you are feeling more artistic, you can use the leaves to create butterfly wings: glue them onto a sheet of paper and then draw the body of the butterfly and that’s it – all done! 

Just a few simple ideas to say that, even if it is cold, it makes no sense to lock ourselves indoors and keep children away from the cold temperature. All you need to do is wrap up warm, and there will be no need to be afraid of the cold anymore!

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