People often ask me how I’m coping with the Finnish winter – so far, so good. Frozen days? So novel. Long hours of darkness? So restful. Piles of snow? So magical. Dressing a child? Kill me. Seriously.
When the mercury hit zero degrees celcius two months ago I panicked and wondered what on earth to dress Miko in. But with a few tips and pointers along the way I felt quite confident sending him off today, with the forecast sitting at a high of -12°c and a ‘feels like’ of -19°.
As many of you will know, the secret is: layers. And what I have found even more useful is: all-in-ones. For weeks we’ve been struggling with too many bits and pieces, which leads to Miko flopping around like a non-compliant jellyfish and arguments and grumbling from both of us. I also suspect it might be where he learnt his new favourite word (starts with f ).
Until this morning, a typical outfit for Miko consisted of: undies, singlet, socks, thermal leggings, thermal top, fleece leggings, fleece top, then outer overall pants and jacket + hat and gloves and boots. And if it rains? Rubber overalls and jacket and rubber gloves over that. Because even waterproof gear can’t protect from a child kneeling in puddles and scooping water up with their hands.
Things like socks and thermal underwear come in different wool / polypropylene ratios for when the weather is 0 to -10°c and -10° and below. Gloves come with woollen inners or some people wear a thin woollen glove beneath a padded mitten.
After some advice from a teacher I bought Miko an all-in-one wool suit for when it gets below -5° and an all-in-one snow suit. So today he has on: undies, socks, thermal leggings and top, wool suit, snow suit, balaclava and gloves.
The balaclava might seem over the top, but when you’re out in these cold temps and the wind is blowing it doesn’t take long before you find the weak spots in your outfit. All-in-one suits eliminate chill factor down your butt crack and around your kidneys.
Today when I dropped Miko at the park (because they start the day outside every day until it’s below -15°c) the teacher commented that his boots were not the best. I’ve been sending him in fleece-lined gumboots thinking this was the final frontier in winter footwear. She showed me that most kids are wearing warmer, gore-tex boots that are lighter.
What about when it’s cold and wet? I asked (because I ask the stupid questions so you don’t have to). It doesn’t get that cold and wet, she replied. Once it’s below zero, all water freezes and the snow is dry. Of course! Science.
So I’m off today to buy some better boots and then I think we’re set. Although it’s going to get warmer again tomorrow so unfortunately we’ll be back in a wet world of slush.
I’m obviously still fumbling my way through this winter get-up thing so any tips or comments are welcome. Thankfully I find shop staff incredibly helpful, especially when I say it’s my first winter here.
My biggest tips to you for dressing a child in winter are: allow at least 15 minutes and always ask if they need to pee first. Any time spent on dressing can be made up on a day like today by delivering them to school via sled.