How to Dress your Kid for Winter in Germany

Photo: Erin Porter

Is this warm enough? Photo: Erin Porter

When writing my post on “How to Dress for Winter in Germany”, I felt like I could complete another full post on “How to Dress your Kid for Winter in Germany”. Germans take winter clothing seriously and double down when it comes to the kids.

I tried to cover the basics of kid wear in Germany with Dressing your Kid for German KiTa, but – as I said – winter is a whole new deal. So here is an updated Guide of How to Dress Your Kid for German KiTa – complete with special information for the winter.

How I did it Wrong

When my baby started Krippe, I thought I was ready. We had waded through the paperwork, got the almighty KitaGutschein (subsidy) and been accepted to a great KiTa. We had steeled ourselves for our baby spending time away from us for the first time. We thought we had this.

However, suggestions from the Erzieherin started coming in slow and haven’t stopped. Continue reading

How to Dress for Winter in Germany

Photo: Erin Porter

The author feeling cold Photo: Erin Porter

It’s hard to tell what the weather will be like day-to-day in Berlin. You can wake up to bright sunshine, leave your Wohnung (apartment) amidst deep fog and return home to an epic downpour. Other places like Freiburg may boast more sunshine than anywhere else in the country, but there is no escape from the cold. Bone-chilling, breath-stealing, icicles-in-your-nostril cold eventually finds its way to every corner of Germany. Sometimes this is only for a day or two, and sometimes this chill feels like it will never end.

And unlike places like the USA where you run from your well-heated home to your preheated car to your next heated destination, life in Europe refuses to let you hide out through the winter. There will be very cold minutes waiting for the train, the airy flat you loved in summer will turn into an ice box and the only times you’re warm are when you are sweating through your under layers on the random overheated UBahn car.

The only way to fight back is with the proper clothing (Kleidung) and Germans are champion over-dressers. Here is how to dress for winter in Germany.
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5 points of etiquette for sledging in Berlin

IMG_0792Snow, glorious snow. At last, winter arrived in Berlin and the streets were paved with white. That was two weeks ago – after an unseasonably warm December, the temperatures dropped and it snowed – for a day or two at least. Then it warmed up again and everything melted, until this weekend just past, when once again the air was biting and the skies opened. How the children celebrated. For them, waking up to a fresh layer of snow on a Sunday morning is right up there in life’s pleasures. So we bundled ourselves up, trudged down to the cellar to collect the sledge, and rushed to the park to enjoy the hill before everyone else ruined it.

But it is not quite as simple as just showing up and setting off full-pelt down the slope. If you are new to Berlin, there are a few important points of etiquette to note about snow and sledging.

1. Dress properly

Depending one where you herald from in North America, you may well be accustomed to dressing properly for winter. Not so, if you call the UK your native land. There, where the winters are mild and snows infrequent, you don’t have clue how to be comfortable in really cold weather – you’d be likely to think wellies (aka gumboots) and a heavy woollen jacket would do. They won’t – not when sledging in Berlin anyway. If you’re going to enjoy yourself and to be outside for any length of time, you need to be well dressed. Essentials include: a vest, long underwear (long johns as the Brits call them), woollen socks, thick-soled boots, a woollen jumper, thick gloves, and a down coat (which comes below your hips). Most children will be wearing proper snow boots and padded, waterproof snow trousers as well – as an adult and you have them, you wouldn’t feel out of place wearing yours. Continue reading

Freezing days in Berlin

It is very cold in Berlin; that sort of startlingly cold that seeps into your bones immediately on being outside and stays there for hours. This being my fourth winter in Berlin, I half-expected on that first frost glistening morning to be acclimatised – not so. For North Americans and many Continental Europeans, my complaints will fall on unsympathetic ears. It’s only minus 6C, they will say mockingly. But being a sensitive English rose, I find the cold makes going outside feel like an arctic mission rather than a free and easy, pleasurable way to break up the day, and this troubles me each year.

Of course, we had snow in my childhood, but it was that mild, wet, English snow which stays only fleetingly on the ground for no more than a day or so – and falls biannually at most. Instead those English winters consisted of short, dark, grey days, smattered with chilly rain and the odd early morning frost. A woollen jacket and closed shoes were guaranteed to see you through winter’s mildest and chilliest moments. And though I do miss those days, for all my chilblains and chapped lips, these real Berlin winters have been an educational experience, making me both wiser, and in a funny way, possibly a more considerate mother. Continue reading

You went to Davos and didn’t ski?

I have often joked that Switzerland may be the only place on earth where gyms are completely deserted during the month of January. I remember going for the ubiquitous January 2nd workout last year, anticipating the typical hordes of resolution bandwagoners, but I ended up having the place all to myself.  The reason for this phenomenon of course, is that everyone is skiing!  Why would anyone workout during winter holidays when the Alps are right there?

Skiing is as Swiss as cheese and chocolate, and the Swiss people take all such enjoyable things very seriously. I should note here that the idea of health and wellness in Switzerland is much more geared toward just that, health and wellness. It is quite a different mentality from the North American obsession with fat burning and muscle pumping.  Many Swiss believe that if fitness can be found within some of the most beautiful outdoor settings in the world, then the Elliptical machine can take a hike.  In searching for outdoor activity, there is no better place to find heart-healthy fresh air and challenging winter adventures than in Europe’s highest city, Davos.

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