Jack Frost has nothing on you: 3 tips for surviving the cold

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the parenting column

Winter is here. Fact. Part of what makes this season so difficult for parents is venturing outside in the frosty conditions. Kids need to be kept warm-hats, mittens, scarves, boots and coats all need to be worn. Backpacks and diaper bags need to be supplied with winter necessities. Multiply the number of kids in the household, and parents end up spending the better part of the morning tasked with Sherpa duties. Make your life easier by following these three tips:

1) Think ahead and systematize

Organize winter-wear in a specific location. Older kids can find and put on their own gear while younger kids can start the process of getting their stuff together. Plus, when everyone is home, there's a special spot for their outer garments, which hopefully means that it won't all end up on the floor.

Over the door racks, wall hooks, coat trees, garment racks or large bins may all be found at the Container Store, IKEA, Target or Wal-Mart, among other places. Making a small investment in coat, shoe and hat organization will help create a stress-free environment in your home.

2) Be smart, pack smart

Cold lunches and snacks don't have to be the norm-pack meals-away-from-home in an insulated mug or container.
"Winter is traditionally a busy time for families - whether it's heading from school to sports practice, driving the after school car pool, or just carving out family time for all of your local winter activities," said Jessica Jabcon, senior marketing manager. "Keeping the family fed and hydrated during these long days is crucial for both parents and kids. With properly insulated food jars and beverage bottles, your busy family can still enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa or warm tomato soup on the go this season."

Be the superstar on the sled hill, the mom-in-the-know and the prepared-with-quality-sustenance parent this winter season. In lieu of disposable products, give reusable containers a try.

"Genuine Thermos Brand insulated mugs, tumblers and food jars are an environmentally and budget friendly alternative to disposable bags and cups- perfect for families no matter where the road takes them," said Jabcon. "Our high quality Thermos double wall vacuum insulation technology allows you to lock in temperature for 12-24 hours, keeping your foods and drinks hotter and cooler for longer."

3) Go outside

Don't spend your days behind closed doors, hiding from Old Man Winter. Plan events and family outings outside and embrace the squally cold. Build a snowman, go sledding, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the woods-get outside and take pleasure in the beauty of winter in all its grandeur. Appreciating and relishing the season will help you and your family maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.

A great website for happenings in and around the city is: www.choosechicago.com.

As mentioned on the website, "In Chicago, we treat fun like a full time job. And there are more than enough enticing Chicago events to keep you and your family busy all season long."

Search the calendar for events, attractions and tours as well as special discounts and deals.

There's no avoiding it; winter has arrived. Now go play in it.