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This time of year, many runners rejoice at the relief from the humidity and heat of the warmer months. The cool weather of fall is the ideal time for outdoor workouts, but if you’re in the habit of taking your kids with you on your runs, your little ones might be less than thrilled with the changing temperatures.
There’s no need to leave your kids behind for the next few months; with a few easy tweaks to your stroller game, the whole family can continue running together until the first snow and beyond. Here are just a few stroller running tips to keep everyone comfortable in cool and cold weather.
Watch the Weather
First thing’s first: Before you head out, check the hourly forecast for the time period you plan to be outside. Fall and winter weather can turn on a dime, so be sure to watch out for any potential precipitation.
As a general rule of thumb, kids need one additional layer beyond what you are wearing. Dress kids in multiple layers that are easy to take off, like zippered hoodies, so that if they do get hot you can easily remove a layer. Make sure they have on hats and mittens, and bring along a big blanket that can be tucked around them to keep them warm. You can also look for blankets made specifically to fit over strollers that zip up like a sleeping bag.
And make sure their feet are covered. Little ones can often kick off socks and shoes, and once their toes are cold, your run is pretty much over. Dress kids in footed pajamas to help keep their feet warm. And if they are beyond the footed PJ’s stage, then socks and winter boots can do the trick too.
Prepare Your Stroller for Cold Weather
Make use of that stroller basket and pack all the supplies. Besides the usual stash of snacks, bring plenty of tissues for runny noses, lip balm or petroleum jelly to protect little mouths and cheeks, and sunglasses to shield sensitive eyes. And be sure to pack enough of everything for yourself, too.
Don’t forget, the weather shield for your stroller is not just for rain. It can be a huge asset in cold conditions as it helps block wind and trap heat inside the stroller (many models allow you to vent the sides to let fresh air in).
Make Room for Snacks
Pack snacks that aren’t “wet” and can potentially make exposed skin colder if spilled. Leave the applesauce at home and opt instead for dry snacks kids can easily grasp while wearing mittens. Make sure water bottles are secure to avoid spills which can also make kids cold and damp.
Entertainment is a Must
While you’re out achieving your goals, your kids will need their own motivation to sit still for the duration. Here are a few ways to keep them occupied:
- Play games. Playing games while running with the stroller is a great way to pass the time and keep kids engaged. “I Spy” is an easy one on the go. Try it with a twist: think of three things you think the kids will see on your route (for example: a duck, a weeping willow, and a pinecone). The first person to see all three wins.
- Sing silly songs.
- If they have a tablet or device they enjoy, bring that along and put on a show or game that will keep their attention. Don’t forget touch-screen sensitive gloves.
- Promise a fun destination. Finish your run at a playground where the kids can run around and get warm or at a cafe where you can all warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.
Don’t Forget the Big Kids
If you have older kids who like to run alongside you, dress them the same way you’d dress yourself, adding an extra layer if they tend to be sensitive to the cold. And be prepared to take it a little easier than usual; the cold air can be tough on little lungs and your kids may need to go slow or take frequent breaks.