From Pakistan to Toronto: How to Adjust to Colder Climates


By Sarah Suhail

Sarah Suhail, Contributor

Sarah Suhail, Contributor

There are many places in the West where people start swearing at the weather channel once they start saying the phrase ‘polar vortex’. On the other side of the world, there’s the East where people pretty much believe in dresses and shorts for their kids almost all year round. Before we moved my 4 year old to Toronto we had Summer for 11 months a year, Fall for 2 weeks and Winter for 7 days if we were lucky. Now we’re in Toronto, in the middle of winter.

Initially, Aaliyah had a romantic notion that winters were all about building snowmen. In all fairness, this was totally my fault because that’s how I excited her about coming here. I had to soften the blow somehow! But reality was quite different. Anyone who lives in a cold city knows the challenge of going out when it’s -10 outside (without windchill). These challenges are present whether you have children or not. Just the effort required to put on your thermals, jacket, boots, scarf, hat and gloves takes 5 to 10 minutes. And if you have children, multiply by 2 for each child and going out just doesn’t seem like it’s worth the hassle.


Photo credit: Sarah Suhail


How to Make it Easier to Adjust to a Cold City

In all fairness, the most important thing required to adjust a child to a new climate is time. Time for the child and time for the family to adjust to their new surroundings, weather, lifestyle and most importantly schedule. We uprooted her from a schedule that she was very comfortable with. She knew that she could play out when the sun went down a bit and all she had to do was put on her slippers. It was as easy as pulling a snack out of the fridge – in fact, it was easier.

Looking back at the past month of winter, there are things I wish I had known before. A few tips which could have lessened the number of tears that in all honestly, both of us shed.

Aaliyah in Winter Gear

Photo credit: Sarah Suhail

1. Let them pick the color of their snowsuit, gloves and boots. Obviously you’ll have to dictate budget and so color is a better option than letting them choose exactly which one they want. We had to get Aaliyah’s without her input (had to have it shipped to Pakistan before we moved to Canada) but I picked a color she would want, not what I liked.

2. Let them pick the hat. There are so many cute options out there. I got a great panda hat for Aaliyah which she loves. It’s best if you just go to the store you want to buy from and let them pick the hat they want.

3. Give in with the inside clothes. I tried so hard to make her wear jeans in school because frankly they look nice. However she wants to wear her fuzzy, soft, flannel pants which could just as well be PJs. But because she love them and is comfortable, it’s easier to get her ready to go out if she decides what to wear inside.

4. Teach them to get dressed on their own. I really have to thank her school for this. When they said “She has to start getting ready on her own,” I freaked out! I thought how can my baby put on her own clothes! How can she put on her own boots?! Typical desi mama thinking. Turns out, when she started getting ready on her own everything was much easier for her and for me. Sure we have to schedule in an extra 10 minutes whenever we go out but at least we get out without a crying episode.

5. Over-dress them. A great tip given to us by one of our friends was “Put her in the snowsuit as soon as it dips below 0. Don’t wait for snow or rain.” This works really well because then I don’t have to worry about what she’s wearing underneath and she’s always warm – even if it’s a bit too warm.


Photo credit: Sarah Suhail

6. Go easy on yourself. This is the most important one of all. I can’t even remember the number of times I thought to myself, “If only I hadn’t told her to wear this,” or “I wish I had told her that.” But you know what? As a parent, when you’ve made a drastic move with a child, you’re also learning. And it’s absolutely crucial that you give yourself the time to adjust. A happy, relaxed parent leads to a happy, relaxed child.

Canadian winters are tough but they can be fun when the whole team is happy. A little extra time and a lot of love goes a very long way. Children are very self sufficient and independent if parents stop dictating every move they make just a little bit. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from teaching her to deal with the cold. If you have any winter tips for kids, please share them with me in the comments below – there’s still lots of cold headed our way!

Next time, I’ll talk about what it’s been like moving from a very big and comfortable large house to a small, one-bedroom apartment – that too without all our furniture and her toys. It’s been an adventure but that’s what a good life is all about.


More about the Author

Sarah Suhail - CSarah Suhail is a momma of two – one on earth and one in heaven. She’s gone from being a teacher to a social media and human resource strategist with many professions in between. Writing started off as a passion to connect with awesome people around the globe. Her mommy blogging revolves around rediscovering the world through her daughters eyes by finding dragons in the clouds and painting fairy houses for their garden.

She has written for tech giants, global consultants and writes for two of her own blogs: Trippy Traingle and JigsawHR. When not writing she’s crocheting, baking, drawing and watching cartoons with her daughter.

Follow Sarah on twitter at @SarahQSuhail

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