Monday, 11 March 2013

Mittens - a love-hate relationship

I love my mittens during winter - they keep my hands toasty when its freezing outside. Its a shame that as a preschool teacher I have to take them off so much - to wipe noses, to make sure overalls go OVER the boots to stop snow getting in, and to keep putting on the children's mittens etc...

Why hasn't anyone designed a mitten that simply does not come off during play, is easy to play with them on - but are still easy to put on?

By the time all the children are dressed you are completely sweaty - and getting mittens on is such an artform. Why do fingers start wiggling all over the place? Why don't thumbs go into their little thumb hole? Why do some children not participate in putting on their mittens - just limply hold out their hands? Do you put on the mittens on BEFORE the overall or afterwards - I like to put them on before - it really helps keep them on - but there are now so many overalls with this inner sleeve thing to protect from the snow, which means you can't get a mitten-clad hand through...
Then there are the overalls that are technically too big, so they push off the mittens all the time... Or... well there are a whole load of possibilities here...

where are the thumbs?

Then there is the dilemma... most children do NOT want mittens on - especially the toddlers; and I can understand them. As toddlers their most important part of their body for learning is their hands - they need to touch, feel and experience everything, they want to try out their fine motor skills, grip and squeeze - you stick a mitten on a toddler and you take away a huge part of their learning process. So they cry with frustration. They take off their mittens and after a short while they cry with cold...

I love checking out what children are up to all round the world. There are so many inspirational blogs about outdoor play - and they make me so envious, I have to be honest. Yes we go outside, but we just cannot play in the same way. We cannot offer the youngest children the same sensory learning experiences that children in e.g the UK, USA and Australia are getting their hands into - because those mittens are in the way - and also because the ground is frozen - there is no soft sand or messy mud to delight in.

Winter is FUN - the snow and ice offer new experiences - but to be honest, its just TOO long. We have been wearing gloves/mittens since October - and this week is well below zero - so I guess gloves/mittens will be with us for another month or two. And I know that Stockholm, and Sweden are not alone in experiencing the many months of winter...

I am all for outdoor experiences - BUT when its not much of an experience and just the fresh air... then I wonder... this saying in Sweden "Ingen dålig väder, bara dålig kläder" (There is no bad weather only bad clothing) - what does it mean by bad clothing - bad because you get cold or wet? Or bad because you cannot play? Does mitten reduced-play require more indoor play/experience for the youngest children - so that their hands get enough stimulation? I think older children do not have the same issues with their mittens (although holding hands is more problematic with mittens on!).

As a child I remember going to school in the snow with knee high socks, welly-boots and a school skirt. I also remember my knees going red - but I don't remember it interfering with my play. Mind you I was not experiencing the cold that we get here in Stockholm.

There is no solution - its just a love-hate relationship - they keep hands lovely and warm when they get to stay in the mittens!!


  1. Oh Suzanne I feel your pain! We only have a few days when the kids NEED their mittens & it is a complete pain to get them on, then you look round & they have them off again!!! Thanks for making me smile on a Monday night :)

    1. what is with the mitten removal behind your back? You learn pretty fast which children to put the mittens on last... otherwise they have got them off before you got the last child mitten-clad!!

  2. Agreed! Joe has got my poor circulation (I have Reynards) so we have to put thin gloves on him underneath the mittens. Worth mentioning though that the Swedes do have these wonderful 'Preschool Mittens' which do keep the hands warm and do have cuffs reaching beyond the wrist and a wrist strap ...
    And I do admire the attitude of the preschools/preschool children ... When the sandpit fills up with snow they just continue using the same toys in the snow instead of in the sand! and the children sit there in their thick warm snowsuits and layers of hats and mittens and dig and construct roads and use tractors and tipper-trucks happily for hours! (a generalisation of course!)
    I should state that we are in Skåne so we have the winter a little shorter and a little milder than Suzanne in Stockholm.