People who know me understand that I hate winter. The snow is not my natural habitat, especially since I’m a native Floridian. Some Floridians think snow is this magical, mythological, and wonderful creation. I believe these are the ones who haven’t had to live in it. Now I’m no expert, but I lived in Philadelphia for four years and one of those happened to be the snowiest on record – 78.7 inches! The city shut down for two days, and one of the storms included thunder-snow. So I feel like I know more than the typical Floridian about winter weather. And I try to avoid the freezing cold north in the wintertime.
Except we have a group of friends who meet up yearly – one year in Florida and the next some place resembling the latest Game of Thrones season. Winter isn’t just coming, it has arrived and we definitely don’t have the gear to keep us warm. It doesn’t make sense to me to buy an entire winter wardrobe for each kid for this one week of freezing temperatures. So I don’t.
Months before we leave on our trip, I look at their current wardrobes and notice what items are missing and necessary. We generally have long pants, shirts, sweatshirts/sweaters, a coat, and a hat. If we are lucky. That usually leaves me searching for the rest of the gear needed for copious amounts of snow. Since I began my hunt early, I have plenty of time to procure these items, and I have three places I generally look:
1. Hand-Me Downs
I dig out the bag of clothes previously belonging to my nephew and check out whether it has anything in a larger size that may work. Layers help keep kids warm outside and allow them to strip down to a more manageable amount of clothes when cuddled up in your lap by the fire.
2. Consignment and Thrift Stores
I generally have more money banked in consignment stores than I can ever spend, so if I see a coat or hat that I know my kid will like I purchase it then. Especially since a warmer coat helps even in Florida for the five days of winter we get here. I love thrift store shopping even more, because we have amazing deals on kid’s winter clothes where we live. People buy all this gear, go skiing for a week, and then donate it. So it’s only gently used and usually less than $10.
This one is my favorite because it’s totally free! Do a general ask of your Facebook friends or online group of mamas to see if anyone has what you’re looking for. We ask our Northern friends to find snow pants, boots, coats, and gloves for us, and they always come through. My boys don’t mind rocking the pink and purple gear because it keeps them warm and lets them play in the snow. For eternity (do kids not feel the cold?)
Getting my kids to actually wear the approximately 57 layers it takes to keep them warm is an entirely different story for another day. Because they just can’t comprehend a -12 degree wind chill until they are in it and screaming from the pain despite being dressed like the younger brother from “A Christmas Story.” And I wave to them from my comfortable, cushy seat near the fire because my husband is (happily?) out in the snow with them.