How Do You Stay Warm?

Updated on November 13, 2012
M.L. asks from Claremont, CA
15 answers

We live in Canada now - with so much snow, 2.5 feet in one day - and its only going to get colder :(

How do you dress to keep warm?
How do you dress your kids?
How do you keep the house warm?
What brands would you recommend? Boot brands, clothes brands?
What do you eat?
What do you keep in the car?
How do you drive in the snow?
How do you keep from getting cabin fever?
And how do you keep the kids safe, and happy?

This is a totally new/different experience for me!!! Can you tell? LOL!!!!

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for your answers, advice and tips! I am actively boot/coat shopping, with plans to winterize the car this coming Monday. Luckily, our clinmate, though coldl, offers lots of blue sky (we are in Calgary, Alberta, Canada) and that helps a lot. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks again!

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I think my cells would die there!! I grew up near Claremont, not there any more. I'm still wearing strappy shoes and drove today with my sun roof open!

Thank goodness the other moms have great ideas!!

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answers from Grand Forks on

I live in Winnipeg, Canada. It gets really cold here! What part of Canada are you in?

The kids have Sorel boots, snow pants, down jackets, leather (garbage) mitts. A fleece neck warmer they can pull up over the lower half of their face is better than a scarf. They have long johns for when they are out for long periods. Layers are a good idea for everyday. A hoodie over a t-shirt, so they can take off the hoodie of they get too warm in school. If you have little kids Mountain Equipment snow suits are great. I bought myself a Metropolis North Face, full length parka. I also have a short down filled Nike parka and snow pants for playing in the snow. I have Sorel snow mobile boots for when I am outdoors for long periods, Uggs for daily wear. You can find a lot of good gear used on Kijiji at great prices.

Driving in the snow takes practice. Go slow. Taking a winter driving couse is a really good idea. Get snow tires. Keep a snow brush/ice scraper, some sand or cat litter and a small emergency shovel in the car. Get an emergency kit if you will be highway driving.

We eat what everyone else does. Superstore is a great place to shop. We even bbq all winter long. My mom always thought that oatmeal, cream of wheat or red river ceareal were necessary for breakfast on cold days. Soup or chili are noce on a cold day. We use lots of hot chocolate. In the winter you can keep frozen foods in the back yard, or the garage, or on the proch, so you get to have unlimited freezer space.

We heat our home with a gas furnace. It is a good idea to check for drafts and seal them up to make your home more energy efficient. My husband keeps a small space heater near his computer desk in the basement in case he gets chilly. We use the oven a lot more in the winter, and you can leave it open a crack when you turn it off to let it heat the house.

We don't get cabin fever because we go out every day, even if it is just a trip to the store.. In 42 years I have only been snowed in for a handful of days. Make sure the kids play outside every day, even if it is cold. They need fresh air! There are lots of indoor activities you can do. Join a YMCA if you have one near you. Get the kids toys for outside. Small snowshovels, toboggans, crazy carpets, snow shoes, and snow boards are all good.

Watch the wind chill. It will tell you how long it takes exposed skin to freeze. Don't let the kids stay out longer than that.

Oh, yeah, make sure your car has a block heater and that you plug it in every night. A battery blanket and an interior car warmer are also good ideas, as is command start.

Oh, another thing...Chap Stick. Lots of Chap Stick. Make sure the kids have it in their backpacks, desks or lockers. And make sure everyone gets moisturized after showers and baths. Skin get really dry in cold climates, and chapped lips are pretty common!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Hi from Minnesota! We have cold here, maybe not quite as often or persistent as you will, depending on what part of Canada you are living in.

Sherri G. gave you lots of good advice! Don't skimp on the outerwear for you or your kids. Buy known brands - Sorel, Columbia, North Face. I bought myself some Bogs boots a couple years ago and I'd recommend checking them out. Warm socks, lots of my friends love Smartwool, I usually go with double-layer cotton blend and am fine.

Get outside every day, especially get the kids outside! Find a place in your house to hang up snow-covered, wet snow suits and mittens/hats/boots so they can dry out.

When you go in the car, dress as if you had to be outside, or at least bring the outerwear you would need to stand/walk outside. Even leave an extra warm pair of boots/hat/mittens in the car or trunk just in case. We keep a blanket in the car. An ice scraper with a longer handle, and a snow brush. Always allow extra time to clean off the car before driving (unless you're lucky and have a heated garage). Drive more slowly and allow more space between cars. Being late is better than being in the ditch or worse.

You don't need to eat differently, but soups/stews and hot meals are the norm here in the winter. Salad meals wait until summer!

If your house was built for Canada, it will have a heating system built for the weather. I live in a 1920s-built condo building with radiator heat. I need to switch the screen door for the storm door today, since cold is coming tomorrow.

Get your kids one or more of: a sled, inner tube, snowboard, ice skates, cross-country skies - depending on age and interests. Then build lots of snow forts and snowmen. And have snow fights. And make snow angels. And check around for any indoor playgrounds, YMCA, other fun places you could go when necessary.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

OH man....I think Canada cold is SO DIFFERENT!!!
I have a friend that lives in Saskatchewan and it is BEYOND cold there. I don't know how she does it.
She has 5 kids and I swear they stay inside a lot, climbing up the walls. You need to find someone that is from where you are living, make friends with her, and pick her brain!
I think my friend actually has something on her car to keep it warm for when it hits -31 degrees outside. (holy hell, that's cold)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

-Layers (Like tank top, long-sleeve shirt, sweater, coat... If you can add more layers do. It's okay to look like a marshmallow)
-Heat + Fireplace + Cook Lots Of Stuff In The Oven
-My husband loves "ice armor"
-What you would normally eat
-Matches, candles, chocolate (According to my mom, if you get stuck in your car the chocolate will raise your body heat and mixed with the candles it will keep all the passengers of the car "warm" aka you won't freeze to death), bottled water, some sort of food like crackers, and several warm blankets... Flashlight might come in handy too... And maybe some reading material while you are waiting to be rescued... Oh and if you don't normally wear mittens and hats, put those in your car too... And several pairs of socks (Wet socks = bad news)
- Very slowly! Snow =ice and ice = slipperiness (I've been on the free way going 20 miles an hour and have had trucks pass me going 50 miles an hour, only to drive pass them again 10 minutes later while they are stuck in the ditch)
- Have lots of books, toys, games, and movies!
- Kids love snow... I don't know why, but they do. Get 'em a sled and let them have fun. Then make some hot chocolate, throw some marshmallows in and warm back up!

Edited To Ad:
It's okay (And actually better) to start your car about 5 minutes before you have to go somewhere. It gives your engine a chance to heat up before you start driving which is better for the car and better for you since it means that you can turn the heat on immediately instead of waiting :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

-cold, eh? :D
-Kamik is an excellent brand for kids boots...warm up to -30 C
-check out (Canada's REI) for quality gear options
-layers! Polypropelyne (sp?) is excellent for long underwear under jeans, or other pants
-long, down filled coat with hood for you, snow suits for the kids
-seal the windows with plastic (go to Home Depot or Canadian Tire for a kit)
-eat: the crock pot is your best friend; warm soup, stew etc
-lots and lots of tea!
-in the car: ice scraper (or if yours breaks, pull out a plastic card from your wallet), bag of cat litter, shovel, extra blanket per person, power bars, bottled water, flare, decent boots, gloves
-driving: very carefully. 'Young Drivers of a Canada' is a driving school - perhaps call and ask for a one hour lesson on driving safely in the snow
-cabin fever: play outside! There is a popular saying, "there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing" ...get kitted out and have some fun! -Stock up on some hot chocolate, because there is nothing better than a sledding, making snow angels, having snowball fights, building igloos, playing snow tag or follow-the-foot prints, then stripping off your wet layers at the back door and warming up in front of the fireplace with a warm mug of hot chocolate. Ahhh, winter! (guess where I grew up! lol)
-what about choosing a winter sport, like cross-country skiing or snow shoeing that gets you outside and into nature, and gives you an opportunity to appreciate the sheer magic of a snowy, winter day
-insulated, waterproof mitts are a must
-buy or knit lots of "toques" (translation: warm hat for your head)

And if all else fails, book a trip back to CA toward the end of February. Knowing you have a scheduled escape makes the winters feel much shorter. There are seat sales to warm destinations all winter long.

Cheers to your new home!

PS- buy everyone in your family slippers to wear in the house and get some fuzzy throw blankets for snuggling on the couch

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Two words: wool socks.
Hard to find and expensive, but worth the looking and the money!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Layer clothing. I get cold easily. I live in Texas but in the cold months I wear long underwear! I spend time in Colorado and these things help me.

The only way I keep my feet warm is with lined woolen shoes! I wear UGGS.

I wear a scarf every day. If the neck is warm it makes an incredible difference.

Wear a hat! Even in the house. Keeps you warmer for sure.

Cabin fever............ invite friends over.... A LOT!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Any Sporting store will be your friend here.

They have pretty much everything you will need or at least ideas and then you can shop around if you wanted.

They have warm, thick socks, boots, snow pants are always a good thing to have especially in Canada. They have coats, and hats, gloves etc.

In your car its good to have an emergency kit that has road flares, chains for your tires, maps, and glow sticks etc. They have kits that you can get for a good price anywhere.

You should keep a bin with extra set of clothes for everyone in the trunk, that also has food like crackers, water, etc, and blankets, and flashlights and things to occupy the kids for awhile. Just in case you get stuck somewhere.

I have found those cheap hand warmers to be amazing! I put them in my pockets and that keeps my hands extra warm when out in the cold. My husband puts them in the bottom of his sleeping bag while out camping. They are good for around the house, and for the car too.

One thing that has helped many, many people is to keep a really cheap cell phone, charged, in your glove compartment that is for emergencies ONLY. That way if your regular cell phone dies or breaks then you still have a way to call for help.

Hot chocolate is a favorite when the weather is cold and hot apple cider too. Look online and find some crafts you can all do together and hang them around the house for fun. Make forts out of sheets and blankets in the living room and watch a fun movie together.

Hope that helps! Best wishes, and stay warm :)


answers from Chicago on

I am from Las Vegas But Now live in Michigan the winters are freezing,, The 1st year or 2 it was killing me.. Heating bills where out of control 6 $700 a month we switched from gas to electric heat with a heat pump my electric bill is about 300 in the winter months now..I still 5 years later do not go outside in the snow unless I have to... I stay inside as much as I can.... But some people adapt.. Not me..



answers from Los Angeles on

I always wear an undershirt. Keep the head covered of course. Don't stay inside. A bit of fresh air and movement is better to keep you from getting sick than staying in. Lots of hot tea during the day, lots of soup. Light candles - they make you feel warmer and cozier and that helps your body too.
Love enough. With exercise your blood circulation works better.



answers from Detroit on

Brrrrr! We're the Midwest and it gets cold, but Canada is more so! We have Carseat Ponchos for the carseats. We don't wear winter coats IN the car, but they can put them over them after they are buckled into the harness or booster. The biggest challenge for me is the car. We do normally just fleece as it's thin and safe for the car. But when it's really cold, a Carseat Poncho over that.
I don't know HOW people live in Canada with little kids. God bless you, and I hope it works out!



answers from Washington DC on

Layers. Layers trap heat. Make the outside layer waterproof. In really cold weather my DD wears tights and I wear thermals that I got at Target.
At night, I put a tshirt on her under her footed sleeper (if she'll wear the sleeper). We wear a lot of hoodies/sweaters, even inside, if there's a chill.

I spent time in MN as a kid, and looked like the staypuft marshmallow kid every winter. Especially if you have more than one kid, investing in a good snowsuit (either one-piece or pants + jacket) is a good idea - can be passed down. We even layered mittens. Mittens are ultimately warmer than gloves, if the kid doesn't really need use of fingers. Hat AND scarf and hood. Put the hat on, cover with the hood, wrap scarf around to keep it closed. If the scarf is long try the trick of folding it in half and putting the lose ends through the folded loop.

Get newspaper/plastic bags to put their feet in over the socks. Then put their feet in their boots and tuck in the extra to keep out the snow/make boots easier. "Moon boot" type boots are warm but sometimes your feet get stuck. Have a place for them to dry out in between uses so they're warm and dry for the next day. Bring shoes to school in backpacks so the kids can change out.

One caution, though - make sure they are not so heavily outfitted that they cannot fit safely in their carseat if they are still small enough to need one. I put a hoodie or light jacket on DD and then bundle her up in a blanket to get to the car and when she gets to wherever, I put the jacket on when we get her out of the car.

As far as cabin fever and such, you learn that you can still get out, even if you've had snow or it is currently snowing. Ask your mechanic if there's anything you need to get your car ready for winter. Do you need snow tires, for example? Keep an emergency kit, a blanket (we used sleeping bags), and flares in the car.


answers from Norfolk on

Loose layers is the way to go.
The insulating air levels keeps you warmer than thick solid padding.
A turtleneck, a flannel shirt (or a loose sweater) and a loose coat (down to mid thigh) with a hood (or wrap around your head scarf (over your nose/mouth to hold your warm breath close to you) will keep you toasty when outside.
If the kids are younger, snow pants will help keep them warm when they roll/play in the snow.
If you have not driven in snow/ice before - get to an empty parking lot (when there's 6 or so inches in it before it's been plowed) and do some donuts in the snow - you learn how the car moves and behaves in a skid as well as how to start and stop slowly to avoid sliding).
In traffic - never tailgate - there's no starting or stopping on a dime on snow and ice.
Blanket(s), granola bars, small shovel, kitty litter (for traction), and hand warmers (they produce heat when exposed to air) in the car in case you are stranded.
To avoid cabin fever - get outside!
Build snowmen or other snow sculptures(I can make a pretty good polar bear), snow forts, make snow angels, go sledding/ice skating/skiing then enjoy warn cider and hot chocolate when you go back inside.
Walking the mall will get you out and about, too.
You can eat anything you want but there's something so good about a hot stew or soup in the winter.
Talk to your new neighbors and parents of kids from the neighborhood/school/daycare - they'll all have advice.



answers from Los Angeles on

-Wool blankets
-Wool socks
-wood burning fireplace insert (Godsend) w/the blower. Get a blower
-buy hand warmers you put in your pockets (you get them at sporting
stores. Get some for your feet/boots, too.)
-Good boots
-in your car keep: wool blankets, flares, shovel, water, non-perishable
-to eat: soups, stews, anything in a slow cooker
-down filled jackets
-online look up those lamps that emit uv rays to keep depression at bay
-for the kids (make them hot cocoa...A LOT, buy them good warm boots
& clothes, sleds, tobaggins (spelling?), board games, books
-hang out at coffee shops & the library for your outings
-make your outings count: lump them together, go somewhere warm like
the mall, out to dinner nearby once in awhile
-buy lots of candles, wood for your new wood burning fireplace insert, long stick matches
-check your house to make sure it's insulated as best as possible.
-keep in touch w/friends & relatives from wherever you moved from to keep your spirits up, exercise indoors (treadmill) to release endorphins & keep you postive.
Hang in there.

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