The Thermometer Rules

This was a rough winter in many parts of the country.  Although it is winding down, I thought more than once during the season about years past when our family was younger.  I wondered if this might be helpful to young moms who are now where I once was.

Parenting is a tough job that benefits from creativity.  The phrase “choose your battles” is good advice.  Knowing we all make mistakes while raising our kids makes it sweeter satisfaction to look back and see things that worked well.  Often, the decisions I made meant instituting rules that were not popular nor fun to enforce, but were sensible.

One of those things was setting guidelines for winter apparel.  It didn’t take long for my first son to challenge my authority when it came to wearing proper clothing during cooler weather.  His brothers that followed also viewed cool weather clothing as a burden instead of protection. Like most boys, mine liked to run and jump and play unencumbered by bulky clothing.   Quickly tiring of arguments, I asked some older moms how they handled jacket phobia.  One mom told me a jacket was required if the temperature was below a certain number.  This was the perfect answer as it would remove me from deciding if it was cold or not.  Over time with three boys, I expanded and personalized winter weather rules for our family.  Memory has blurred the details, but they were something like this:

Image (3)

You may laugh that pants were required under 60 degrees (it may actually have been 55), but it is likely only a matter of time before any boy will think it’s perfectly acceptable to wear shorts while simultaneously seeing their breath and/or while it’s snowing outside.  In our world of climate controlled comfort everywhere we go, kids may not remember a time that they were exposed to temperatures to the point of discomfort or pain.  Yet As parents, we are required to send them out prepared.  Not that I thought I was in a popularity contest, but this simple act of posting rules removed me from being the bad guy and the target of frustration in this situation and it worked great for many years.

Later, they could play tennis if it was above 40 degrees.  Once they started driving, the rule was that they didn’t have to wear it, but they had to have the jacket or coat with them in the car.  And they could not drive with flip flops on!

It’s helpful to have a big and easy-to-read outdoor thermometer.  Then, with rules posted nearby, you can simply refer to the thermometer and chart when the “opportunity” arises.  Confrontation diverted!


You can change the numbers and requirements to suit your family needs , but having the chart posted may make your parenting days easier.  What you decide will depend on age, region you live in and your kids.  What’s important is that the thermometer makes the decision.  After all, it’s perfectly acceptable for us all to hate the weather, but nobody should hate their mother!

About Climbing Downhill

Wife and mother of grown kids, in my 60's and dealing with MS, making life's moments count and trying to offer something of value to others along the way.
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2 Responses to The Thermometer Rules

  1. Catherine says:

    What a terrific post! Definitely brought back many wonderful memories … even during those challenging years … but looking back with no regrets. Your thermometer idea is a nice idea! 🙂

  2. Thanks Catherine. It’s likely a good thing I can’t see how they leave their houses now that they’re grown.

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