A blanket fort in a snowy rural community. The blue and white patchwork quilt drapes over wood beams.


Bear+Fox Apparel, Hi!

March Break - something many parents dread. Not because we don't want to spend time with our kids, but because it's a huge hiccup to routine. While trying to entertain or keep kids busy, parents still have to find time to get their regular tasks done during the day, whether that be cleaning, errands, working outside the home or running their own business. It's a definite challenge. Plus, everywhere seems to be busy offering March Break activities as a reprieve for families. Registering your child for day camp, hitting up a trampoline park, museum or movie theatre isn't just insane with crowds, but it can get to be quite expensive.

As a child growing up in Northern Ontario, many of my classmates went south for March Break, coming back with incredible tales of the ever popular yet totally elusive to me land of far far away - Florida. We would spend our March Breaks in the bush on countless nature walks, shooting our bows, setting bunny snares with our dad, getting in some end of season ice fishing and of course - building snow forts.

As a parent, I think I love building snow forts now more than ever. Not only is it a task with a deliberate ending, it's also something that can be enjoyed for days to come. Arguably, can actually become stronger with the passage of time and can be transformed time and time again. Make a new room! Build a tunnel! Add some food colouring for some interesting fort graffiti!

When March Break rolled around, I knew I wanted to spend one day at the London Children's Museum (which was a huge hit), and then go to Heeman's for their reptile exhibit - but the rest of the week I wanted to spend as much time outside as possible. Not only would it be easy on the wallet, but it would help us crank some hours towards our goal of 1000 hours outside.

We were outside building up the walls of the fort when I asked the kids if they would want to sleep in their fort. The excitement that poured from them was intoxicating. All we had to do was figure out how to add a ceiling, and how to keep warm. It was going to be -14 Celsius that night, and I wasn't sure their little toes would appreciate frostbite as a souvenir.

We had some left over boards from building our fence in the summer that I jammed into the snow walls around the fort and added a big plastic bag (leftover from our new mattresses). It was nice and tall, so I wouldn't have to worry about bonking my head off of it, or feel too claustrophobic in the fort. But when I went to add the blankets on top to help retain some of the heat, I just couldn't get them up and over the boards.. it was just too tall.

After some high stakes emotions from not only my kids, but myself as well (we were feeling the frustration with how to create this fort. Like I said, there was alot of excitement at the idea of sleeping outside... from everyone), we decided to go back in the house, eat some lunch and regroup. After some time inside and some deep  breaths, we headed back outside to try building the ceiling again.

This time, we jammed the boards in lower on the walls and created peaks significantly lower than the first rendition. We also added some boards horizontally to create a bit of a break wall we could pile some more snow chunks on to help create some stability, and insulation. We added the big plastic bag on top and very easily were able to drape 2 king sized flannel sheets across. With a wool blanket covering the back of the cabin, we added another king size quilt to the front of the fort to act as a door, again to help with insulation and to break the wind. I was hesitant to use this quilt, it's a quilt my mama made us for our wedding and is on our bed 24/7. But then I had a thought - special blankets deserve special adventures, too.

Now that the ceiling and walls were complete, we needed to stay warm and dry. I used my deflated loon Float-Eh named Becky on the floor of the fort and layered a big thick foamie on top along with 2 big throw pillows. Then we layered a bunch of blankets, quilts and sleeping bags one on top of the other. It was definitely comfortable to sit on - but would we be warm enough?

We took a quick day trip to shoot our bows with my mom and dad. Which, side bar, watching your kids learn to shoot on the very bow you learned to shoot on... full circle, heart warming moment.

When we got back from shooting it was 9pm, and we were ready to get into the fort! We layered up, longjohns and sweaters and toques and big wooly socks made by the kids great grandma (aptly named Great Granny Socks). Armed with our snacks, bevvies, stuffies, flashlights, night lights and ipad (the kids wanted to get caught up on the latest episode of Mandolorian) we headed into The Blanket Fort.

We set up the Batman night light on the shelf the kids carved into the snow fort weeks ago, along with some Kool-Aid jammers and a White Claw. We got snuggled under the blankies and loaded up the show on the ipad. Our new puppy Frank wanted to come and sleep with us, but ultimately just gave us a kiss good night and was called back inside the house. I wasn't convinced that he would stay the entire night, and we didn't want to lose heat with opening and closing the door all night.

When we finally got to bed, it was 10:17pm. The kids were snoring by 10:19pm.

Everyone thought we'd be in the house before midnight... but the kids managed to stay in the fort until 6:30am when Frankie came for some morning kisses. What a great morning alarm!

I woke up with a huge smile on my face. My kids did it! They were total champs and slept the entire night outside. Waking up with my Bear and my Fox snuggled into my side was a moment I will never forget.

They're already talking about sleeping outside again (as long as the rain we're supposed to get doesn't melt all the snow) we will be back in the fort again.

Overall, I'd give this makeshift AirBnB a 4/5 rating. The drinks were cold, and the bed was soft and warm... the only thing that would make it better, would be indoor plumbing.

I shared our adventure on my instagram page @bearandfoxapparel.ca. I received countless DMs about how I was "mother of the year" for doing this with my kids. As much as my kids loved this experience (as well as me) and we can't wait to do it again, there are plenty of families who would absolutely hate this. This would be a terrible experience and the narrative would've played out much differently. But keep in mind - there are families who would rather

  • spend the weekend at the arena
  • go to an amusement park
  • organize an N64 tournament

Find the thing that your family likes to do together. Make memories where people are smiling and genuinely enjoying their time together, no matter what that is. Do something that makes you happy, every single day. Don't forget to play and get outside.

Bear+Fox Apparel, Bye!

Two kids snuggle together under blankets with their stuffies. Both wearing Bear and Fox Apparel toques

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