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Get The Kids Winter Ready Faster

Getting ready for school and appointments with toddlers during snow season is NOT for the faint of heart. After some trail and error, and tears, here are how I get the kids winter ready faster!

I have always been beyond excited at the prospect of snow. You see, I’m from the Pacific North West. So, what I’m used to is that if there is a snowfall, we wait with baited breath to see if it actually sticks. Then, we scramble to find whatever might pass as a snowsuit for the kids (There was one season where I thought ahead enough and actually picked up $30 ones from Costco in August!). We race outside to make what basically looks like three-inch snowman before the temperatures rise too high (usually a matter of hours).

Oh, how things have changed! In May, we moved back East. And low and behold, snow falls here and STAYS. Like really stays. Not only that, but the temperatures don’t dance around freezing. They’re well below that. And while I had romanticized visions of outdoor staking, hot chocolate, sledding, and more snowmen, it would appear that winter with toddlers kind of sucks when you’re not used to it. Getting ready is a battle. Forcing toddlers, who already want to express their autonomy at the sake of all else, into snow gear is not for the faint of heart. Think wrestling an orangutang into a straight jacket and you’ll have an idea of how fun it is to get 35-pound people into clothing they’ve decided they don’t want to wear. Once stuffed into their snowsuits, they are less agile and yet again find themselves less autonomous than they would like. Cue more whining and more crying than you normally deal with. Throw in the fact you need to be somewhere on time, and if you’re like me, you’ll be on the verge of crying too. Okay, I’m sort of lying here. I actually have cried. More than once. I’m happy to report that though this whole winter thing has done a number on my parenting ego, I’ve found a method to the madness. Hopefully, you will find it works well for you too. Here is how to get the kids winter ready faster.

How To Get The Kids Winter Ready Faster

Getting ready for school and appointments with toddlers during snow season is NOT for the faint of heart. After some trail and error, and tears, here are how I get the kids winter ready faster!

Pre-empt them with a timeframe, outline what is going to happen and be clear on rewards and/or punishments. EVERY morning, I am now giving my kids a countdown before clean-up, telling them exactly when to get ready and what the plan is from there (i.e. then I will need you to get the boots on, I will brush your hair, you will grab your backpack, and you’ll get into the car). We are using sticker charts for our kids and they have been great motivators. When it seems they’re about to get distracted or run off course for some other reason, I get down to their level and explicitly state what needs to be done and how that will get them a sticker. I also say if they deviate from that, they will lose a sticker. Different motivators work differently for each child, but this is working well for us.

Tell them their time is up before it actually is. This is good psychologically for both you AND them. Why? For them, telling them that you’re running behind, you need to leave right now, or something has to be done immediately creates a sense of urgency where they likely will move faster. The strategy of saying this much sooner than actually is the case is beneficial for you because you are calm because you know you still have time.

Don’t request that they do anything. Tell them. “Can you get your boots on, please?” is a yes or no answer and, in the case of toddlers and preschoolers, likely will lead to the answer, “No.” Or in the case of my negotiators, “[I’ll do it in] two more minutes.” Contrastingly “I need your boots on now, please” negates the option in both your mind and theirs. You’ll feel more adamant because of the phrasing. They (may) oblige quicker.


Don’t get their snow gear on in the house. This may seem alarmingly counterintuitive. However, if you’re driving them to school or an appointment, this, out of all my tips is my BIGGEST SAVING GRACE. It is proven to be unsafe to buckle a child into a car seat with a winter jacket on (read all about it here). So what I do is this: I leave about five minutes earlier than I would otherwise. Before that, I warm up the car, get an oversized reusable shopping bag inside the house and load it with our winter gear. Then, I tell the kids to get in the car and put their shoulder straps on. I bring the bag in the car (added bonus of this is a random glove doesn’t fall somewhere in between the closet and the car because everything is contained in the bag). I buckle the last part of their seatbelts. And we are off! Once in the school parking lot, I undo their seatbelts and have them put on their jackets. I walk them into school with the bag and hang everything in the cloak room.

Now you may think THE LAST THING I want to do is wrangle my little ones into the snow stuff in the confines of a car. But you need to realize, that’s the beauty of this hack. They’re contained. There’s no half dressed toddler running through the house as you attempt to match gloves. There aren’t any kids undressing themselves as you dress their sibling. Yes, it’s tight quarters in the car, but they aren’t going rogue. There are no distractions. It’s all business.

Get kids as young as two to put their jackets on using this simple hack. Whether you’re going outside to play or putting jackets on in the car, this hack works wonders.

See the play-by-play here.

Mini reward in the car. Finally, if all goes well, I reward them with a half a cookie each or something they’ve wanted. Anything to positively reinforce this process is worth it in my mind!

What are your best get the kids winter ready faster tips? I’m no expert, so please send them my way!

  1. These are such awesome ideas for getting the kids out on a cold day. My favorite is telling “them their time is up before it actually is.” Tricking kids is the best tool we have.

  2. omg-having such gotten through a huge blizzard, i am loving this! i especially love the tip about not getting your kids into their snow gear in the house. so smart!

  3. Great ideas. While we haven’t had much snow it has certainly been cold. I’ll be referring back to this. Thanks for sharing.

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