Few things in life are as inspiring as the anticipation of the first snowfall, especially for parents. You know who you are. You’ve watched your child’s eyes light up at the first snow of the season, and shared the same purity of spirit. Hot chocolate steaming in a mug, you gather by the window planning snowmen and skiing and sledding galore.

Then you remember there’s that new show on Netflix and you all return to the couch. Ehh. It’s cold out there.

If your kids are only playing outside in three seasons, they’re missing out on one quarter of life’s fun and a lot of more of nature’s beauty. We’ve gathered a few ideas to keep your kids warm, happy and begging for more outside time this winter.

Create a winter dressing checklist. There’s a lot to remember in winter dressing, especially when you’re anxious to get outside to go sledding. Since one missing mitten can ruin a good time, make a list (with pictures if you’re kid is still learning to read) of head to toe gear for both you and your little one to reference.

Let your child select their own super cool hat. If they hate it, they won’t wear it. If they love it, good luck removing it, which is exactly what you want when it comes to hats and winter.

Focus on fun, even if the activity is serious or expensive. The fastest way to end your ski or snowboarding vacations is to pressure your kid into loving them. The younger the kid, the more the experience should be purely associated with fun. This may mean that your four year old is more interested in eating the snow than sliding on it. Fine! Eventually, they’ll understand what it’s all about. Until then, give them time to adjust to bulky clothes, heavy boots and a new speed record. Trust us. They’ll out-ski you before you’re ready.

Don’t skimp on quality gear. Easier said than done when we’re all on a budget, but think of it this way: dress your kid as you dress yourself. You would never go on a ski tour with cotton knit mittens, yet that’s what gets pushed to kids whose hands will inevitably be buried in snow. Eschew cotton under-layers and invest in quick dry, insulating pieces. The good news is that since kids grow fast most thrift stores have a decent selection of children’s technical gear. Also, connect with other outdoor-oriented parents to organize a hand-me-down collective.

Doing laundry may be the secret to warm, outdoor play. Kids’ gear can get an undeserved bad rap for low performance. But the truth is that technical gear needs to be free from dirt and grime to perform at its peak. Since dirt, grime and kids go hand in hand, try to stay on top of cleaning your kids’ winter wear. Remember to always wash and re-waterproof any secondhand gear to assure the best performance for your wee ones.

Couldn’t be easier, right? OK, we hear all you parents laughing out there. We understand that it can be tough to get the kids outside, but we know from experience that once they’re there, they probably won’t want to come inside. That’s where our final tip comes in: bribe ‘em with hot cocoa. Works every time.

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