Dressing for the weather

It seems that kids are often underdressed for the weather, choosing instead to dress in what is ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ (I have literally seen boys on my daughter’s bus wearing shorts in the winter).  As they get older, the struggle gets even more intense.

My daughter has been picking out her ‘outfit’ since she was about four (as long as what she has chosen is appropriate for school, as per her school’s dress code, I try to stay out of it), but decisions about outerwear have typically fallen to me.

However, this fall we’re trying something different.  She’s craving more autonomy and I think this is an area in which she can test out her independence (after all, the consequences are minimal and do not endanger her from a safety perspective) .  Having said that, she still needs to make an effort to dress appropriately for the weather, so this is a great opportunity to teach her some life skills, namely interpreting a weather forecast and applying critical thinking to her wardrobe selections.

So, how does one go about dressing for the weather?  She will be responsible for checking the weather forecast before deciding on the day’s outfit.  As an adult, I have read many a forecast, but it wasn’t until I talked to my daughter about what to look for, that I realized the number of factors to be taken into consideration.

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  • Temperature – she will need to look at what the temperature will be in the morning, as well as the afternoon (at this time of year, she can be heading out in temperatures barely above zero and coming home in temperatures in the mid or upper teens, so I talked to her about the practicality of layering her clothes to accommodate this variance)
  • Humidity (mostly relevant in the summer months) – typically, this is denoted as a “Feels like” temperature and can significantly impact the temperature
  • Wind speed and direction – it’s not enough to just look at the temperatures, she will also need to factor in the speed of the wind and what direction it is coming from (e.g. a wind from the North is colder than one from the South)
  • Probability of Precipitation (POP) – truthfully, this one is a bit of a crap shoot, as POP is determined for a fairly broad region and weather can vary significantly from one area to another (heck, it can be raining at my house but the sun can be shining five minutes away) – generally speaking, if it’s not raining (or rain is not immediately imminent) at the time she leaves for school, I leave it up to her to decide on footwear (many a time, I have convinced her to wear rubber boots due to rain in the forecast, but it never happened and she had to stomp around all day in her rubber boots)
  • Sunshine vs cloud cover – all things being equal, a mainly sunny day is going to be warmer than one that is overcast


I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a ‘Girl Scout’ by nature (i.e. “Be prepared” is my motto), so I would be inclined to throw some ‘extras’ into her backpack, just in case, but I am leaving this up to her (generally speaking, she would prefer to ‘wing it’).  She does not tend to feel the cold quite as much as I do, so it makes sense for her to start deciding what to wear for herself (truthfully, I have a tough enough time dressing myself!).

Although it is hard not to voice my opinion, I am doing my best to leave the wardrobe decisions to my daughter.  On those days that she makes a poor choice (e.g. wears a lightweight jacket on a day with a high of 8 degrees and 25 km/h winds from the north), hopefully she will take what she learned and apply it the next time.  With experience, she’ll get better at judging what to wear and I will get better at stepping back and letting her make the decisions.

If you’re interested in preparing your children for the real world by teaching them life skills that help them be more self-reliant, you may also wish to read my posts on Washing the dishes, Sorting laundry and Time management.


Washing the dishes

This summer we rented a cottage for a week.  It was one of those ‘rustic’ ones, with the ‘cottagey smell’ and the big picnic table in the dining room to eat on (it was great!).  The cottage perfectly met our needs, but it was missing one or two of the ‘comforts of home’.  My daughter was shocked to find out that there was no dishwasher (of course, she was even more shocked when she found out there was no internet access).

Truthfully, washing the dishes by hand makes me nostalgic, taking me back to my cottage days, except my cottage growing up didn’t even have hot water, so we had to heat it on the stove (when I mentioned that to my daughter, you would have thought that I had said that I had to pump water from a well and then walk half a mile uphill with the water cistern on my head, but in fairness, I guess it all sounds a bit like fiction to someone my daughter’s age).

My daughter has had some experience with drying dishes (when she and I bake, she has to help with the clean-up by drying all the baking utensils and dishes), but this time she wanted to take a turn at washing.  Given her initial ‘enthusiasm’ (OK, maybe this is too strong a word), we quickly established that she was on breakfast and lunch dishwashing duty for the week.  I dried and put away, since she couldn’t reach many of the cupboards.

Before we started though, I had to give her a bit of a ‘crash course’ in washing dishes.  It went something like this…

  • Scrape food scraps and crumbs into the garbage and lightly rinse off dishes, if required (e.g. if there is BBQ sauce or similar that can be easily rinsed off so that it doesn’t end up messing up your wash water).  Put really soiled items aside and save them for the end so that your dishwashing water doesn’t get grungy right out of the gate (fill heavily soiled pots and pans with some hot water and a bit of dishwashing liquid so they can soak and food can soften, making cleaning easier later on).
  • Clean out the sink, then fill it half full with hot water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid (probably the size of a quarter or so should do it, as too many suds makes it more difficult to rinse dishes).  Note that you may have to get clean water part way through the washing process, depending on how dirty your water is and how many dishes you have to wash.
  • Generally speaking, wash items in this order (you may wish to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the hot water)…
    • glasses (push the cloth into the glass to the bottom and twist it around a few times)
    • cutlery (wash individually or in small groups of 2 or 3 to make sure each utensil gets cleaned)
    • bowls and plates
    • pots and pans (don’t use abrasive cleaners or brushes on non-stick surfaces when cleaning)
    • heavily soiled items (these items may require a bit of soaking and/or scrubbing)
  • Rinse item with hot water to remove any soap suds.
  • Place item in drying rack to air or hand dry.

There’s a good chance that your home has a dishwasher, but there are many apartments and rental properties that do not (chances are, this is what your kids will be living in when they leave the comforts of your home).  Prepare your child for the real world by teaching them how to wash the dishes, as well as other life skills such as Sorting laundry and Baking basics.