25 February, 2012
Drawing a Line in the Snow
Here's the background. I work for a family with a toddler. I'll call her Sam. She is about 15 months old, and has a health condition that causes her to be about the size of an 8 month old-a skinny one. She is a normal active happy child, just very small. There are no day-to-day issues with her health. Yes, I am being vague about her condition, and no, I won't clarify. I bring it up because her size makes me worry more about cold weather. Cold does not affect her condition, my worry is that but she feels cold more because she is so small and has very little body fat.
Her mom wants her to spend lots of time outside every day. When I started in September, this was great! We would often spend two or three hours on a walk. There are lots of parks, trails, etc so there is lots to do outside and Sam was always happy when we were outdoors. I would sometimes take her high chair outside for lunch, and we would walk around the yard looking at rocks and trees and things. When winter came, there were days I would skip our walk and play inside the house (MB doesn't allow anyone to drive Sam, which I am ok with, I don't mind being 'stuck' in the house) because I felt it was too cold. MB was upset when she came home to find we hadn't gone out. Even one day when it was 25 degrees and snowing! MB insists that if I just bundle her up enough, there is no problem.
MB is a skiier and snowboarder and wants Sam to love snow. MB has no problem going out in 15 degree weather, even with wind. She doesn't seem to understand that not only do some people hate the cold, but a baby is much more sensitive to cold than an adult. She has giant snowsuits for Sam. When I put one on her she cries because she can't move or keep her balance. If I take her out in the snow, she will scream if I try to set her down. If she even touches the snow she shakes it off her hand immediately. If I strap her into the stroller with layers and layers of clothing on, she is uncomfortable and will start crying after a few minutes. It seems ridiculous to spend all that time bundling Sam up while she is getting more and more angry, then go out for 5 unhappy minutes, then come inside and unwrap her. One day MB insisted we go to the park, we stayed a total of 3 min because the wind was so cold, every time a gust blew, Sam jumped into my arms and hid her face. I took her home when she started crying. The wind hurt my face, I can't imagine how it felt for a little one.
I am always 100% in favor of kids playing outdoors, I fully understand the importance of it. In this case, it is making the child miserable, and I am not sure if this is healthy for her. I don't want to criticize MB, nor do I want to lie and say I took Sam out when I didn't. March is usually our snowiest month, and I am wondering how to manage this. There are a lot of cold, snowy, windy days ahead. Am I overreacting, or should I be concerned about Sam's well being? Moms, if you had a child who fits comfortably into 6-9 month clothes, would you want her out in the cold? Where would you draw the line? How cold is too cold?
at 10:06 AM