How to survive the school run when it’s -12c

We’re back in New York after a wonderful Christmas break in the UK, and now adjusting to the reality of a school run in our first New York winter. This morning the building’s thermometer read -12 degrees Celsius. Actually, that’s a lie. It read 12 degrees Fahrenheit, but I prefer to stick to Celsius as it sounds colder and therefore more fitting.

The cold has brought some fresh challenges to the school run this term. Normally we drop B off for the morning at her little local nursery, leave her pram there, and then T scoots beside me on the way to her school. But it’s simply too cold for scooting now, T’s eyes keep filling with water (not sure if it’s the cold or the wind chill – probably both). So I’ve assembled the gigantic double buggy, and bundled them up like little Eskimos.

Fully wrapped up against the cold
Fully wrapped up against the cold

Here’s the unabridged, un-exaggerated list of what the girls have to wear in order to handle the cold:

  • Thermal top and leggings (Uniqlo’s Heattech ones proving excellent value for money, and lovely colours)
  • Normal dresses, woollen tights and thick cardigans
  • Balaclavas, gloves and Naturino snow boots
  • Heavy down coats with hoods (we really struggled to find full-length children’s coats here, most are waist length which is not warm enough. Eventually tracked one down at Patagonia, pricey but in these conditions worth every penny – sorry, cent)
  • C’s old scarves to hold the coat hoods in place
  • 7am Enfant foot muffs to bundle them up in (these are utterly brilliant, they look like sleeping bags with hoods, so that all you can see are their little faces peeking out)
  • And last but not least, a dollop of Aquaphor ointment on the cheeks to keep off the wind chap

The girls take turns to sit in the top seat on the double buggy (more leg room down below but no view and any words are lost in all the bundling). Then they sit there sweltering under all those layers while I get my own snow boots, snow coat, woolly hat, scarf, wool gloves and 7am Enfant warmmuffs in place, and we can set off.

As you can imagine, this has added 15 minutes to the morning scramble to leave the apartment on time.

But the cold here in New York is somehow exhilarating rather than sapping, so have been rather enjoying the school run. None of the heavy, dull, low grey clouds of a London January. It’s been either thick, beautiful snow flakes drifting slowly down, or bright dazzling sunshine and clear blue skies. You can see the wind patterns between the sky scrapers by the swirl of the snow.  Confess am still adjusting to the fact that this cold is not part of some skiing holiday weather, and that we have to continue with our daily routines regardless.

C gave me an inspired Christmas present – a fancy, thermal Contigo travel mug from New York’s posh food shop, Dean and Deluca, which comes with a special lock so the girls can’t get accidentally scalded. Have been relishing sipping Earl Grey whenever we have to wait to cross the road, although am finding the hot-cold contrast really painful on the teeth. Nice problem to have, I guess.

So that’s been my week so far.

Highs and Lows:

Highs: Still feeling the glow of spending almost three weeks back in the UK seeing family and friends, catching up on friendships and sleep, and watching C teaching T how to marinade a goose.

Lows:  Hearing the doorman cheerfully saying this is only the start of winter and it’s going to get much, much colder. Am genuinely unsure what more the girls could wear to be even warmer. Any suggestions??

C teaching the girls how to marinade a goose
C teaching the girls how to marinade a goose

C teaching T how to marinade the Christmas goose

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

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