Welcome to Minnesota Winters! Mostly, they are not as bad as the hype, but in some ways they are worse. While I could do without icy sidewalks and constant darkness, there are tactics — that most Minnesotan’s take for granted — that make the winter more pleasant. If you are new to the area and worried about the weather, we offer these 10 ways to embrace Minnesota winters:
- Dress appropriately beginning in September. You cannot acclimate to the weather if you avoid it, so put on a hat if your ears are cold and get outside. I promise you, wearing less does not make you tougher, it makes winter longer. Put your money in your winter wardrobe and embrace sweater and boots weather. Three Rivers Parks offers more advice for dressing for winter weather here.
- Enjoy the outdoors – especially in the fall, heading into the winter. The winter will be really long if you start hibernating when school starts. Hike in the fall, sled and ice skate in the winter, and put on your rain boots and puddle splash the moment the ice starts to turn to water.
Add one of these to your calendar: Twin Cities Winter Family Festival Calendar
- Know your seasons. I’m serious about this. Winter does not start until December 21st. It goes until March 19th. Don’t sacrifice fall to Winter just because we get a little snow and ice; and celebrate spring, in all its weather confusion. Even when we get a spring blizzard, the quality is far more spring-like and hopeful. Embrace the wonders of the changing seasons.
- Count on approximately 14 days of truly unbearable weather*. This is only 2 weeks (but usually not all at once). The worst days usually happen between Valentines day and mid-March. You can push through this by rejoicing in the nicer days in between. If you have been dressing appropriately for the rest of fall and winter, you simply need to add layers or stay in on the unbearably cold days.
- Find a way to take advantage of the sunlight. The worst part of winter is darkness, not the cold. If you can get out during the noon hour, you’ll get the best of the daylight hours.
- Vitamin D. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there is no way to get enough natural sunlight during Minnesota’s winters. But don’t let this worry you, according to HealthPartners, low Vitamin D is not as bad as it sounds. If you feel the lack of Vitamin D, talk to your doctor about a supplement or a sun light.
- Good boots and wool socks! Buy the highest quality you can get. Warm, comfortable feet make all the difference — indoors and out.
- Cover your head. For the most part, a hat is a hat. Pick one that you find comfortable and won’t mind wearing day after day after day. Or, use hats as a way to accessorize and change up your winter gear, because, while winter only lasts 3 months, winter gear needs to come out in early October and can’t go back into storage until sometime in May. P.S. A hat and a hood are NOT the same thing. Hoods are wonderful for pulling the heat off your core onto your head, but hats are much better for holding the heat on your head. I recommend having both and keeping your hood as your secret weapon against the cold.
- Invest in Your Winter Coat. Everyone has their own preference on winter coats. I like full length wool, others swear by down-filled. Try out a few styles and go for comfort and a style you love. You are going to wear that coat more than anything else in your wardrobe.
- Cheap Out on Gloves. Unless you have really bad circulation in your hands, go cheap on gloves. You won’t keep them on anyway and they are the first thing to get lost. I’m not a fan of touchscreen gloves because, if its cold enough that you can’t remove your gloves, your phone battery won’t thank you for exposing it to the cold. I’d rather have my phone on the bus than at the bus stop.
* I admit that “unbearable” is a relative term. The Minnesota DNR has tracked the number of days under 0 degrees in Minnesota and the average is 24, but not every day in the negative degrees is necessarily unbearable (in my opinion). Windchill and sunlight have a lot to do with relative comfort.