I am one of the approximately three people who have never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. (I know.) Yet even I know its tagline: Winter is coming.
Maybe (ahem, definitely) because I’ve seen so many memes based around those now-famous words. Whether you’ve watched the show or not, there’s something about living in Minnesota that makes us deeply resonate with that phrase. This Game of Thrones motto could very well be adopted by our own North Star State. Which of us hasn’t uttered those words, or something similar, at some point? They imply something ominous: winter is on the horizon, and we know what that means. It means less time outside, fewer hours of daylight, and way, way less warmth.
Even as someone who doesn’t mind winter all that much, (Unless the snowstorms last well into March and then into April, and even all the way into—God forbid—May, then come talk to me about moving half a dozen states south.) it’s undeniable that winter gets… long. Especially with kids. Even with piles of toys and books and art supplies it’s inevitable they look around and sigh, “I’m boor-ed.” Even more especially this year, as we stretch into months eight, nine, and ten of a global pandemic.
I’ve been thinking a lot in the past couple of weeks about this article. It outlines various ways to prepare yourself and your home for all the time we’re about to spend indoors over the next several months. It could be the type-A planner in me (ahem, that’s all of me), but this sounds like a good, helpful, tangible way to take some control of my life right now.
Here are the things I’m tackling now that my future self will thank me for later:
- Getting our winter gear in order. This was forced on us all last week–raise your hand if you were caught off guard by last week’s snowstorm! (Thank goodness for online ordering, so at least we’ll all be prepared for the next time.) The kids have tried on their winter boots, coats, snow pants, etc. to see what fits and what we need more of. Don’t forget yourself and/or your partner! We have our own warm coats, snow boots, and snow pants so we can join in with the kid’s fun. This year I purchased some new, very warm winter boots for myself.
- Investing in some winter fun. I already know we need new sleds this year. I’m thinking of what other things will convince my kids to go outside so we can put all that snow gear to work. Snowshoes? Skis? Ice skates?
- Getting our flu shots! This is more important this year than ever. The CDC recommends getting flu shots before the end of October this year, so don’t delay!
- Putting things on the calendar. One thing we’ve been missing is the sensation of looking forward to things. Maybe it’s just a Zoom call with some friends or an at-home date night. If you feel comfortable, it could be snagging some tickets to a museum. When every day has been so much the same, our minds could use some happy anticipation.
- Organizing that spot in my house that’s driving me totally bananas. Is it your laundry room? Your pantry? That corner of your bedroom where laundry piles up? Take an hour to tackle this annoyance. For me, it was a couple of utensil drawers in our kitchen. I ordered some bamboo organizers, emptied out the drawers, tossed or donated what we didn’t need, and put what was left back, newly organized. Ta-da! I did this a few months ago and still smile whenever I open these drawers.
- Stocking up on cold/flu supplies. It’s much better to have a medicine cabinet filled with both adult and children’s versions of vitamins, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and a trusty thermometer now instead of at 11 pm on a Tuesday when you realize someone is sick. (Not that I’ve ever done this before…)
- Planning breaks for myself. If you’re like me, it’s hard to turn yourself “off.” There’s always another load of laundry to do, another email in need of a response, or another corner of the house to be tidied. I know. But rest is maybe more important to our health–mental, physical, and emotional–than anything else. Pick at least one time each week to really and truly take a break. Maybe every Thursday evening you watch a favorite show or read a good book. Maybe every Saturday morning you get to sleep in and take a couple of hours to yourself. Maybe every day you decide you’re not looking at your email or social media after 8 pm. Maybe you get takeout once or twice a week so you don’t have to cook. Take some time to figure out what would truly help you feel more rested.
- Grabbing a little luxury (or three!). I received a faux fur blanket last year that I basically lived under— I can’t wait to get it out again. What will cheer you up during some of the coldest days of the year? A cozy pair of pajamas? An evergreen-scented candle? A new nail polish color or face mask? A hefty ceramic mug for your hot beverage of choice?
One last note: I am just mentally preparing for things to be different this year. I know the holidays are going to look different even if I don’t yet know exactly what they’ll look like. We won’t be celebrating our usual big Christmas with extended family. My husband’s family won’t be joining us for the holidays from out-of-town. We won’t be going out to restaurants just for fun or having friends over inside our house. This is just the reality of this year. Being realistic about a situation—no matter how crappy—is so much better for my mental health than ignoring reality.
There will still be hard days, don’t get me wrong. Distance learning and working from home and needing to make food for all these people in my house for the 894th day in a row takes a real toll. Of course, I wish things were different. But the more I can acknowledge and prepare myself for the reality of the next several months, the easier it will be.
Tell us in the comments how you’re preparing for winter this year. What’s on your winter prep list?