Sep 1, 2017

Kids in the sauna-- a great family building tradition

I first experienced a sauna when I was 6 years old. My mother’s friend’s family owned a sauna in the woods and she took me with them in the middle of winter to give it a try. I remember sitting on the bench and getting hot then running outside and throwing snowballs at each other. That was my first experience and it was fun.

Fast forward about 30+ years and here I am, with my own sauna and my own two kids. My son was 3 when I started building the sauna. He enjoyed helping whenever he could—still does. Once the sauna was operational, I wanted to get the kids accustomed to using it with me. My daughter was 7 when she first tried it. My son was 3. The first couple of times, my daughter did not enjoy the hot room very much. The temperature was too high for her, and the steam that would come from throwing water on the stove freaked her out. Regardless of the hot room, both kids enjoyed eating snacks and watching cartoons on TV in the changing room.

After the first few sauna uses, my daughter learned that the steam dissipates quickly, it actually feels good and the spearmint smell is great. The heat was nothing to worry about. I learned to keep the temp around 160F-170F for her as well. What really made the sauna fun for her is that after getting warm, she could go outside in the cold and pour cold water on herself, then run back in to warm up.

My son was 3 when he first tried the sauna. First few times, he’d come in to the hot room, take his shirt off, get on the top bench, spend a minute there and say “it’s hot” and leave. He too enjoyed the snacks and cartoons in the changing room more than sitting on the bench. However, as he watched my friends and I use the hot room as well as his sister, he learned to enjoy it. He’s gotten to the point where I think it’s time for him to come out and cool off, but he wants to stay on the bench and watch cartoons through the candle window. Kids are funny.

Overall, I love the days the kids and I use the sauna. I enjoy doing something with them that started with an idea and was built with my own hands. I love that they enjoy something unique that I enjoy. I’m glad that I could give them the ability to get so warm that going out in the snow didn’t scare even a 3 year old.

One word of caution about kids and sauna. Take it very slow and error on the side of caution. Make sure the kids drink plenty of water and don’t over stay in the hot room. With their small bodies, they heat up faster than adults. Although they may not show it, they will try and stay in there as long as possible to the point of overheating. Make sure they do plenty of cool offs and limit to being in the hot room no more than 5 minutes at a time-- at least until you see how well they do.

We have since had friends over who brought their kids to the sauna and the dynamic is fun to watch. The kids want to go to the hot room with the kids, and adults want to go with adult. My now 8 year old daughter is a sauna professional along with her friends. I looked through the candle window and they had their towels on the top bench, the other girls were laying down, my daughter threw spoons of water on the stove and they were all enjoying the steam and talking away. Yep, I’m definitely happy I went ahead with the sauna build and the money I spent on it is well worth it.