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To think that British people need to get better at winter?

(279 Posts)
honeytea Sat 01-Dec-12 16:40:01

I have noticed lots of people worrying about the cold weather and their DC coming to harm due to eating/sleeping/playing outside.

I am confused as to why in a country that we all know has miserable weather for much most of the year some children don't have clothing that enables them to spend time outside. The risk of vitamin D deficiency, the higher chance of getting ill when inside and childhood weight issues could all be made better if kids were encouraged to spend more time outside.

I know it isn't all families, I have just been supprised at the amount of people worrying about thier children being damaged by winter weather. It doesn't even get very cold in the UK, nothing a pair of breathable woolen thermal underwear and a good coat/all in one wouldn't solve.

I am British but I now live in Sweden, here the kids at daycare/school have to spend at least 2 hours outside by law, it doesn't matter if it is raining, snowing or -10 the kids are still out playing/eating/sleeping. The schools only shut due to weather when the temp drops below -40.

AIBU to think that we need to get better at winter, it does after all happen every year for about 6 months

honeytea Sat 01-Dec-12 22:10:09

I have been trying to look into prams and see what the babies are wearing but I think I come across as some strange stalker staring at the kids. I know what older kids wear but not the tiny ones so much, only from what the in-laws have told me.

MrsMerryMeeple Sat 01-Dec-12 22:28:02

Last winter DS had one of these in his pram: 7am enfant le sac igloo (medium), and I also lined it with the lambskin that we always have in his pram. Then he wore indoor clothes, body, leggings etc, and one of these: P.o.P vindfleeceoverall. That was on the coldest days. Otherwise he had a warm jacket and indoor clothes inside the åkpåse.

And hat, velcro "scarf" etc. He's still with us, so obviously didn't freeze to death.

This season's dilemma is whether or not to invest in a new, bigger åkpåse; they are a hefty investment! Now he's walking he's got slushy boots etc and a proper snowsuit, so doesn't need a proper åkpåse and will get it grubby with his boots. But I don't want to have to faff with manoeuvering him into all that if we've just taking the pram from one indoors location to another. Hmmm...?

StinkyWicket Sat 01-Dec-12 22:32:12

YANBU. I am one of those annoying people that spent some time studying in Canada and now is totally scathing about the English in cold weather grin

Have had to buy new shoes for DSS as he will insist that Toms and a cardi are good enough though. No DSS, they are not!

honeytea Sat 01-Dec-12 22:32:29

We got our åkpåse at a loppis, it was nearly new and cheap! It is hard to know what to do, you need 2 pushchairs smile

I bed your DS is really excited about the snow? It must be amazing for them to wake up and overnight their little world has turned white smile

Boomerwang Sat 01-Dec-12 22:34:47

Well my 8 month old has two all-in-one suits ready to wear. She's been in normal coat and trousers so far but her nose, hands and feet are starting to suffer so we're breaking it out!

By the way, one of those all in ones was bought in Tesco in a fetching pink colour when I visited my parents, if anyone was considering one for themselves. A bargain at a tenner (I think)

Your biggest commitment should be your shoes, imo. No fashion boots, ones with proper rugged soles, preferably with spikes. You can get some with withdrawable spikes too.

surroundedbyblondes Sat 01-Dec-12 22:44:46

True, it depends on the thickness of overall/åkpåse! Ours is an ordinary one we bought in Belgium, so not super winter standard. Some of the other mums I know here had thicker ones. Others had their kids in outdoor overalls and used a thick blanket on the buggy. Maybe that's better if your DS will be getting in and out with muddy/wet boots. Just drape it over the top or sling it underneath when not being used?

MadameCreeper Sat 01-Dec-12 22:49:06

I'm half yabu and Yanbu

I'm in the south and have no problem dressing and staying warm in winter. Only once in the last 10 years has the area been shut down for a couple of days. Never known everything to shut down for a thin layer of snow. We noticed it was snowing, then I went for a walk an hour later and it was properly getting deep, the rush hour traffic ground to a halt during that time. People we skiing on the street 2 days later, unheard of.

A couple of years later an we went to Scotland, Glasgow and the surrounding area ground to a halt for days, southerner me had no problem driving through deep snow. Driving ability wasn't the issue. I was in deep snow on quiet roads, we all know what happens on very busy roads and one person breaks down then + snow to that, massive tailbacks will happen. Yes, my commute used to be on a motorway for an hour. It would not be unusual for hours of delay for feck all. I was stuck in the walking version today getting out of an event!

My children have been to 3 schools between them, they play out in the sun, rain and snow. They have snowball fights with the teachers. In very torrential rain they're allowed in.

My car has emergency food, down sleeping bag, snow boots, boot grips, self heating coffee cans grin

I am amazed about the gear I see some people out and about in. Soaking flats and no socks in rain or snow?! That's the point you reached the "stylish" point and kept going. I've lived in a few different countries, we go on holiday to a variety of places. It will be the Brits who tend to refuse to wear appropriate clothes for the weather, if you wear the right clothes for the terrain and weather it's easier to pull off stylish. Last year we were in Italy, the Italian wore sandals that stayed on their feet ;)

CoolaSchmoola Sun 02-Dec-12 01:24:31

For people with no insulation in the UK there are LOADS of government grants available for insulation, and many are not means tested. In recent years my ILs (working, decent income) have had cavity wall insulation and loft insulation installed and paid for by a grant. The requirements to qualify for the grants were no cavity wall insulation and less than a certain depth of insulation in the loft. There really is no reason for anyone to have inadequate insulation in the UK. (And for families on low income Warmfront will even install central heating or replace boilers on a grant.)

We've just moved back to the UK from north east Germany. Over there it was fairly normal to have temperatures of -25/30 and knee deep snow for months on end.

Subsequently we are now owners of schnee stiefel (snowboots), various coats (Jack Wolfskin being the brand of choice - SO warm!) and hats, scarves, gloves to cobble dogs with. We also have a set of winter tyres for the car as they are a legal requirement over there. We will be putting them on in the next couple of weeks because, even though we're in the UK now, they are a bloody good idea. The increase in traction on snow or ice is amazing. We also have some serious snow shovels.

Where we lived it is the legal responsibility of every householder to clear a metre wide path to their front door and also to clear a metre wide path on the pavement for the length of their boundary (ours was long confused). If someone slips on the pavement outside your house YOU as the householder get sued. It's actually a pretty good idea as all the pavements everywhere were clear.

I took my cues from our German neighbours when it came to clearing snow. They did it in the evening (in the dark!) and then put grit down. That way it didn't freeze when the temp dropped. Lots of Brits near us would clear it in the morning and it would be a swine to move as it was frozen solid. It used to take me an hour every evening to clear my drive and pavement, and we bought grit in 25kg sacks, not these daft little pots you get here. It wasn't fun whilst pregnant, but I was certainly warm enough!

I think when it gets to a certain level of cold you don't notice it as much any more. I remember de-snowing and de-icing the car one day, using my special de-snow the car brush (the stuff you can buy for winter is amazing!) and thinking hmm, I'm cold. I was in my work clothes, no coat - and when I checked the temp it was minus 14 grin.

Having lived in a very cold country (and also in very hot countries) I think many British people could do more to be prepared. It's only weather after all!

CoolaSchmoola Sun 02-Dec-12 01:29:47

Just like to point out for those that know I'm married - DH wasn't just leaving me to shovel mountains of snow whilst pregnant, he was away for virtually my entire pregnancy, initially in the UK and then in Afghanistan - so I got to spend the winter shovelling snow and the summer shoving the lawnmower around our big garden, which wasn't fun at 7.5 months when it was 40 degrees.

FairPhyllis Sun 02-Dec-12 01:44:04


I moved to the Northern United States and am now astonished when I come back home and people are whinging complaining about it being -7. Try -30.

It's all about having the right kit. Got m'snowboots (which must be stylish as they always get compliments in Britain), got m'down duvet coat, got m'long johns, thermal vest, snow broom, good tyres, heavy duty snow shovel. Sorted. I don't live in a particularly energy efficient house, but, hey ho, energy is cheap here and we whack the heating up. God bless America.

Even the tiny tiny airport in my town works when there is snow - I am gobsmacked at Heathrow closing down the minute there is a sniff of snow.

Naoko Sun 02-Dec-12 02:04:46

I'm so glad to hear that my insistence at having the house at a constant 20 or 21 degrees isn't just me being a wimp, but instead me being foreign. I'm Dutch, my parents' house has the thermostat set to 21, so do all the other people I know there. There 21 is recommended for living spaces, 18 for bedrooms. It's not stuffy, and it doesn't cost the earth, I've seen my parents' energy bills and they're paying less to heat a sprawling detached house than I am to heat my two bed mid terrace. It's all in the insulation. In their house, you put the heating on, the house warms up, and holds the heat. In mine, it goes straight out - I ran an oil heater in the study last night because I was freezing. Got the place nice and toasty, turned it off - 40 minutes later the temperature had dropped 3 degrees. The pigeons in the back yard must be pretty cosy.

mathanxiety Sun 02-Dec-12 04:05:23

When I moved to the northern midwest snowbelt from Ireland I was amazed at how well prepared people were for the cold, whether snow or just biting cold and damp. I kept my homes there about 16-17 degrees but that was a lot warmer than outside, where it went down to -20ish regularly in the depth of winter, and about twice as warm as I was used to in Dublin where my family home was heated by two fireplaces when I lived there [bsad] (<--- = blue with cold). They were also prepared for the hot summers.

Well prepared doesn't have to mean expensive. I bought family snow gear from Walmart and it worked perfectly well and looked fine. Tbh, when the weather got really bad people didn't care how they looked and just got on with it. The city only shut down for storm of the century type events and the airport stayed open if at all possible.

YYY to shovelling snow in the evening and putting down salt to retard freezing overnight. People also used to put down salt when snow was forecast as it made it easier to lift shovel fulls of snow from the path if it didn't quite stick due to the salt. The day after whopping blizzards you could walk up and down the sidewalk because people dug themselves out and then shovelled. I kept two snow brushes in the car and sundry other emergency items.

mathanxiety Sun 02-Dec-12 04:06:09

That's better...

LucilleBluth Sun 02-Dec-12 07:53:31

Oh yes, I agree. We lived in Canada for 5 years, been back home for 15 months now. We all have decent thermals, coats, snow boots etc, but I was taken back last week when I dropped my eldest two DCs at school on a bitterly cold morning only to find that they were the only ones with hats and gloves on, it was freezing. My car said the temp was -2 but it felt so much colder with the wind chill, I had my toddler in a snowsuit.

The school is a tiny village one
in the countryside and let's just say that it's not like the parents can't afford to kit their kids out in all weather gear, I just don't get it.

Sirzy Sun 02-Dec-12 08:18:44

Reading some threads on here it just seems that some people want to keep their children inside from November to March just incase they get a little bit cold!

BaresarkBunny Sun 02-Dec-12 10:02:52

I'm going to Germany in a couple of weeks for four nights. As we are going to the Christmas markets we will be spending the majority of time outside so I'm packing plenty of thermals and layers. I'm finding it really hard though to find a decent warm coat.

Indith Sun 02-Dec-12 10:12:28

Trouble is that our climate is fairly unique. It is a damp cold that seeps into your bones. I have waltzed around Moscow in -30C perfectly fine yet felt cold wearing the same coat and boots in the UK.

Then you have the fact that it isn't THAT cold for very long each year so it feels as though winter clothing is throwing money away. Plus ski jackets/other warm winter clothes are generally meant for snow that brushes off, they are not properly waterproof and cannot cope with the horrible wet slushy sleety snow we get here that penetrates the fabric.

Can anyone find anything that is seriously warm AND waterproof but actually affordable?

I do my best to combat it. I can't afford to spend £££ on coats each year, I buy everything I can second hand and I buy big so they get 2 or 3 years out of each coaat. My kids each have a set of thermals and a pair of wool welly socks. They each have snow boots from Lidl and they have waterproof trousers plus of course decent mittens and hats and scarves. Then they each have one big thick ski jacket type winter coat and each have a waterproof either with a fleece lining or a zip out fleece. But of course the fleece lined waterproofs are not warm enough for when it is freezing cold but the winter coats are no good if it is sleeting.

We go outside in all kinds of weather but it is bloody difficult to be set up for all eventualities here. Colder countries are easy in comparison because it is a dry cold so you just need thermals, decent boots and a warm coat.

I do agree though that we need to be better at dealing with snow and ice and keeping things moving, we need to realise that we as residents need to be responsible for our areas and not jsut expect the council to sort it all out for us. However, we have seen some pretty odd weather patterns in recent years and things have taken us all by surprise. We had some harsh winters followed by a couple of years of frequent flooding. It is odd, it is varied and it is hard to deal with. It has gone from councils being got at for not providing enough grit to councils being told they should have better organised flood defences. an they really win?

Some things need to change, I think grit bins need ot be kept full. I think neighbourhoods should lose the "someone else will do it" attitude and keep their streets gritted and snow free. I think people need to realise when it snows that you need to keep the snow round the car etc clear from the start rather than it start snowing on Friday night and then Monday morning complain the car is snowed in. I think that WRT the flooding drains need to be kept clear of leaves etc because in most areas I know of a lot of the surface water on roads was caused by leaves in teh drains (some residents were going round with sticks and jsut pushing the leaves off the surface of the grill and hey presto the flood vanished). However, in terms of people having the correct clothing etc don't be too smug and harsh, remember that winter clothing simply isn't designed for our climate.

BarbecuedBillygoats Sun 02-Dec-12 10:35:58


no government grants anymore
thats all stopped because of this new policy which looks great on the surface but is in fact utter crap

wonkylegs Sun 02-Dec-12 10:52:29

A lot of the insulation grants were also 'mis-sold' and unsuitable. We kept getting the push from a particular firm to install cavity wall insulation.... Great but our house like most Victorian properties doesn't have a cavity wall. I am an architect and know just a 'tiny' bit about insulation and construction but this firm kept trying it on and insisting I could claim (which meant they would get payment from the government) for work that could never be done. I heard this on many occasion from people who had a run in with firms like these and I had to explain why these firms were being rather dodgy. It made a mockery of a scheme which could if managed properly have been a good idea.angry

RabbitsMakeGOLDBaubles Sun 02-Dec-12 11:18:36

I have to say that I notice a lot of people wandering around unfit for the weather here in England, I mean I am wrapped up with hat and scarf, and I see people wearing shorts with tights, and a cardigan instead of a jacket. At the school only last week one parent came in a sleeveless top???

I have two baskets at home, wet weather and cold weather, and make sure that the kids have appropriate attire for the weather. I don't have a lot of money, but to me being able to walk to and from school is important surely? I bought a couple of sizes big so that they have lasted me a few years and also wait for summer sales of winter products and special offers/new range making the older range cheaper. The teachers always comment on me having the stuff for them, and other parents look at me like I am a bit mad

They'd probably also laugh at the front pouch of my bag which has a first aid kit, paper and a pen, mini toiletries, tissues, spare change etc.

crazycanuck Sun 02-Dec-12 11:29:36

Rabbits I get looked at like I'm mad too when I dress for the weather. I showed up at a work do when it was pouring out wearing a long gortex raincoat with a serious hood. They all laughed at me until I fixed them with my gimlet eye and said 'Yeah well at least I'm warm and dry!', as they sat there shivering and soaked to the skin. hmm

Boomerwang Sun 02-Dec-12 11:40:20

this is pretty shameless but since quite a few posters here reside in sweden i've made a thread for us if you are interested.


digerd Sun 02-Dec-12 12:29:11

Yes, it is the damp cold here, that makes it feel colder as the damp gets through everything, even your skin. At + 6 here I felt colder outside than at -15 in Germany during the day , But once we had a whiplash wind coming from Siberia, and covered my face with a scarf, which was frozen solid in a few seconds from my breath - so I went back home. What a whimp my german dh thought, I,m sure.
And those wonderful german Tiled Ovens, my house was so hot had to open the windows at -18 outside in the afternoon. We had a very old house that had no cavity walls or insulation and single glazed windows, but a THATCHED ROOF

Meglet Sun 02-Dec-12 12:46:32

Checking the weather forecast is also a blindingly obvious thing to do, but I've known people who are stunned when there's a weather warning or a foot of snow dumped on us confused. In Dec 2009 I told my cow of a boss I was leaving early one day as the MET office had a severe snow warning for Hampshire that afternoon and I had a 20 mile drive home, single parent and 2 kids to get from nursery, she was furious even though I was able to work remotely once I got back to my home town.

She got stuck in the snow on her way home later that day <<snurk>>. Her boss didn't get home until 4am <<evil cackle>>. The next day me and another collegue were single handedly keeping the dept going as we were walking distance of the remote office and everyone else was snowed in miles from head office.

RabbitsMakeGOLDBaubles Sun 02-Dec-12 12:51:50

DS's dad laughed when I gave him his rain hat and gave it back to me.

Fine, let the rain get in his eyes and deal with the moaning then, I have a lovely time walking back from school in the muckiest weather because they are protected and actually go stomping in puddles and enjoy themselves, instead of moaning about being wet and cold.

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