White trees, snow sparkling in the low winter sun: Pure magic. Gather the family and get out there!
Kids love a challenge, so pick a goal and head for the hills. Remember that the whole distance can seem daunting to children, so it helps to break the route into smaller chunks. Turn the outing into a game or add different tasks and activities:
- How many different animal tracks can you identify?
- How many different kinds of trees do you see?
- Create small challenges along the way: who’s first to the next trail marker or the next hilltop, can you ski without poles across the meadow? Your imagination is the only limit!
These little challenges help build basic skills, technique and balance, all in a fun, natural and intuitive way. Find out what triggers your kids, and keep expanding the repertoire.
Make sure they are having fun, and remember to consider their skill level: One trip that’s too long or too hard can kill a lot of motivation. Let them take part in the trip planning as well.
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Respect the cold
Winter offers endless fun in the snow, but do respect the cold and be aware of the wind-chill effect: Wind will make the actual temperature feel colder, and also increases the risk of frostbite. Small children and babies get chilled faster than adults, and when the mercury drops below -10 C (15 F) it is too cold to bring infants in sleds/chariots.
“In cold weather, shorter trips are much better than one long outing with painfully cold fingers and toes,” says Tor Halvor Bjoernstad-Tuveng, a family doctor and a father of three young children in Tynset, known to be one of the coldest spots in Norway.
“Minus 10 is the absolute lowest temperature for infants,” Bjoernstad-Tuveng says, adding that dressing for the conditions is key to staying comfortable – regardless of age.
“You have to dress the kids right. Layer with thin, soft merino wool, and a wind proof outer layer. For infants in sleds, make sure to put them in a well-insulated bag that is appropriately rated for the temperature. Be particularly careful to cover their hands, neck and head,” he says.
“Don’t take any chances. Check in with the children often to see if they are happy and warm enough,” Bjoernstad-Tuveng says.
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Know your limits
Even adults should be careful in the cold. But Bjoernstad-Tuveng, who is also an avid skier and gladly braves the elements for a magic experience, points out that while cold fingertips are uncomfortable it’s not dangerous.
“Frost pain from cold fingers and toes is simply a sign that your nervous system is working. Sensitivity in fingertips and toes comes back after a warm shower and doesn’t cause permanent damage. A beautiful ski outing through winter wonderland is definitely worth the discomfort,” he says.
That said, deep frostbite can cause permanent damage and should be avoided.
“If you really frostbite your fingers and toes, they are more vulnerable to frostbite and damage in the future,” Bjoernstad-Tuveng says.
This week the temperature in Tynset dropped below -30 C (-25 F). Check the wind chill factor HERE for temperatures in Celcius and HERE for temperatures in Fahrenheit
Sources: Norwegian Meteorological Institute, National Weather Service NOAA