Sickness and stress: All the challenges facing parents in winter

Science and Health

Some people eagerly wait for winter and rainy days, while some feel sad when it’s cold and there’s little sunlight. Yet remember that in Israel summer lasts for eight months. 

One thing is for sure; winter always requires more organization than warm days. It can be hard to go outside and parents face many challenges in regards to their children’s routines.

Parents, what problems does the winter weather cause you, and how can you make it a little easier for yourselves and the kids? Here are some examples.

The toughest challenge – viruses

Any parent will agree that winter illnesses bypass every other struggle that exists. If you’re lucky and a kid only has a runny nose and a cough that sometimes wakes you up at night, you’re still good. 

Many kids, especially those in large daycare settings, get sick left and right in the winter. These are viruses that have no specific treatment. Simply give your kids painkillers and medicine to reduce fever, according to a doctor’s instructions, keep kids hydrated and wait patiently for the virus to pass.

A child sits inside on a rainy day (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS)

What can we do? Not much. Just hope that parents whose children are sick won’t send them to daycare or take them to the playground, and you shouldn’t either.

It’s hard to leave the house

When it’s raining and there are stormy winds, nobody likes to go outside, but what do you do when you have to go to work and take the kids to kindergarten and/or school?  

Wrap them up well, take an umbrella and enclose the stroller in a rain cover. Get to your destination or even to the car and say thank you if no one is soaking wet. 

If you have kids who no longer use a stroller, they can insist on walking slowly in the rain with their boots on and their umbrella and enjoy the mess and the mud, even though you don’t really like it.

The solution is to wait for the rain to calm down, if you can, dress warmly and let the kids jump in the puddles after school or on the weekend.

Dressing becomes a struggle

If your baby is impatient every time you change the diaper and dress them, in the winter it’s more difficult and takes more time because there are extra layers, which requires so much energy and creative ways of doing it, even with young kids. Even those who can dress themselves sometimes are resistant to wearing a sweatshirt or coat.

Many parents trust their children that if they’re cold, they’ll get dressed. If this isn’t your approach, explain to the kids the importance of warm clothing in the winter, that they can catch a cold, etc. 

Even for small babies who resist getting dressed, you can explain in words what you’re doing, and try to keep them busy while you dress them as quickly as possible.

There’s less time to spend outside

Low temperatures or rainy days will often force you to stay at home, and some people really feel the change in the schedule. Some kids need time outside to release energy, while others are simply bored at home and need the stimulation of a park. 

The result of forced time at home can cause restlessness and chaos and you’ll be challenged to find ways to occupy the kids when you’re stuck inside.

It’s important to let children release their energy outside when the weather is good (illustrative) (credit: PEXELS)

The solution is to find a gymboree or a nearby playground when it’s not raining and let the kids release their energy there. Schedule a playdate where kids are hosted by friends and remember that you’ll need to host them sometime too. Find ways to activate their imagination with creative activities they’ll enjoy at home. 

Also, anyone who isn’t bothered by a little cold can walk with their kids to let them feel the winter, touch the mud and jump in the puddles. Their enjoyment is guaranteed!

The evening starts early

Similar to being forced to stay at home due to the weather, the early darkness also brings you home early. No one enjoys being outside in the dark, even if the weather isn’t that bad. Many parents find themselves home with the kids in the afternoon when bedtime is still far away, and you need to keep them occupied until it’s time for the bath/supper/bed routine.

Make an effort to find activities to do with the kids. Play games, have them help prepare dinner with age-appropriate tasks, let them choose and lay out clothes for the next day and they can organize their backpacks.

If it seems to you that winter is very tiring and makes everything difficult, it’s very possible that in a few months you’ll miss the cold and rainy days. It’s important to remember that not everything is easy even in the summer. 

Days of extreme heat prevent people from being outside, illnesses and viruses can also affect kids in the summer (albeit less) and the late sunset makes it difficult for some kids to say goodbye to the day and agree to put their heads down and go to sleep.

This article was written in partnership with the JAMA parenting app.