Tuesday, March 03, 2015

5 things to remember when you're suffering from the winter blahs

A sweet reader named Betsy recently asked this question on the blog fan page:

I really enjoyed your guest post/interview on homeschooling. I'm in my 2nd year of homeschooling, 1st, K, and 2 non-schoolers. I'm wondering if you could share (with me or as a blog post) how you/your kids survive being with each other 24/7. The school part is going well, but now that's it's February, cold, etc. there are days when I wish they went to school just so all had a break from each other. Help!

Well, now it's March but in our part of the world we're still pretty much stuck in the house, so I'm going to call this question still relevant.  Still very, very relevant.  So, five things to remember when the winter blahs are killin' your will to do anything:

1) Everyone Hates Everything in February

Whether you're homeschooling or sending your kids to school or are childless or have children who are not doing school at all, you want to quit life in February if you live in a place with winter.  The driving is awful, you're tired of putting their snow stuff on and taking it right back off, everyone is deficient in vitamin D and is extra crabby because of it, there are no good holidays AAAAAAAAAAND Lent starts.  So let me assure you that your struggle is not a homeschool v. non-homeschool problem.  It's a temperate climate vs. death climate struggle.  And it. is. real.

2) A Small Break Can Feel Big

Sometimes if you need a break really badly, you imagine that only some length of time greater than 7 months will do.  The weight of the dreariness of everything just feels so dang huge and heavy that surely it will take an age to recuperate or even just come up to some level of functioning.  But if you can squeeze some sort of time- like your husband goes into work an hour late or comes home an hour early and you just drive around the block a few times with inappropriate  uplifting music blaring in the car- it might really help color your perception in a positive way.

The other night after dinner when people were fussy and had been that way all day, I said "I need a break from this business" and Tommy took everyone upstairs to play.  No one even left the house, but I had the whole downstairs to myself for an hour and it really felt like a mini vacation.  I was energized afterward to continue with the evening.

3) A Change.  Any Change.

Sometimes it's the sameness that makes you crazy.  "Why is every dang day the same dang thing over and over and over?  Get me off of this ride!"  If you can't switch up the actual schooling (trust me, I get it when the reservoir of creative ideas is dry.  That's called "my permanent state.") switch up something in the house.  Kids think that kind of stuff is so cray.  Like move a bookshelf to another wall or make a new pillow for the sofa or knot one of those t-shirt rugs you see on Pinterest.  I mean sure it's probably going to be a huge waste of time and look like crap and have to be thrown in the trash (wait.  I'm projecting again!  Mea culpa.) but the day you do it will be different which will make it bearable.  Now I'm not promising summertime levels of joy or anything, but it'll feel better than barely surviving

Playing "summer" on the three (four?)  season porch last Saturday.  It was 18 degrees outside.

4) Kid Swap

Sometimes just changing the dynamics in the family for a bit helps everyone get along better.  Do you have a friend or a neighbor you can swap a kid or two with for even a short time?  It doesn't matter which kid, honestly.  Either take turns or do a one for one swap at the same time, but see if you can make something like that happen.  Try it.  You don't have to do a big photography session worthy play date or Lent-themed snacks or anything like that unless that sort of stuff makes you happy (in which case you should totally absolutely do that and you will be happier!) just put a little monkey wrench into the kids' current routine of annoying each other.

5) Don't take snow days.  Take sun days.

If the weather is poop, do the school work.  If the weather is great, take your "snow" days then instead.  Scrap the schoolwork and go outside.  Or don't go outside and instead lie on the floor in a patch of sunlight and drift in and out of sleep whilst your children eat dry cheerios off the carpet.

Wait.  I mean.  No.  Surely I would never do that.  Ahem.  Surely not.

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  1. "And stop calling me Shirley!" ;-) I'm a single gal who grew up with lots of kids (oldest of 4, neighborhood babysitting, church childcare, & then my Mom did home childcare for several years), knows a bunch of homeschooling moms and kids, and is intrigued by the dynamics of personal relationships/temperaments/families/why x did y -- and I really love your 'blog, Dwija! The recovering perfectionist in me is also very appreciative of how real you are here, too. Godspeed!

  2. We're from Cleveland and February is killing us.... as it does every single year. I know it's March... but it's still snowing and still freezing so really, still February. Loooong, grey, February :(

    1. This is the February that never ends....it goes on and on my friends.....

  3. Great post for the winter blahs. I used to teach kindergarten at a Catholic school and we definitely went through this is in the classroom when we were stuck inside for long stretches of cold winter days!! Now a stay at home mom of one and can feel a different winter blah being stuck inside. So yes I think each stage of life has it when you live with winter. :) Was there any equivalent when you lived in California...or does it make you want to move to some place warmer ever? Last thought, sometimes I think that those of us that live in wintery places will have a little time off in purgatory because of the yuckiness of some of those wintery, winter days!

    1. I often felt this same way at the end of September when it was SO FREAKING HOT that you would burn your fingers on the door handle to your car and the weather looked nice out, but you couldn't even dream of going to the park because every bit of equipment would singe little people's skin, and then you get your $325 electric bill because of the a/c running all day and night. Same trapped feeling!

  4. I love this post! You know we live in San Diego. It is warm here. It is sunny here. It NEVER gets below 50 during the day. "BAD WEATHER" is really a light drizzle. You'd think we'd be outside year-round. But ... we live with my dear 77 yo m-i-l who takes care of our 3 Littles while we work during the week. She has weak lungs and has suffered through horrible bouts with pneumonia. So when the Littles get colds, all weekend activities are severely curtailed and they spend all free time bundled up and sweating it out (she's a HUGE believer in sweating it out. She puts three top layers on them and thick socks and sometimes knitted hats and pins a dish towel around their necks. I saw this in a movie once ... a 1930s movie!!! Starring Robert Montgomery! [Side note: Robert Montgomery was gorgeous, even with a dish towel pinned around his neck.] I don't really think it works, but it can't hurt. Also they drink copious amounts of water). We do get cabin fever. Thank you. Thank you for the ideas!

  5. Some days my well of ideas to keep my kids from killing each other runs dry, and then things get really ugly. I mean, we're all alive but on those days I feel like a real winner as a mother because it seems that the kids all went to bed grimly resentful of each other and I tucked them in with an attitude much close to "good riddance" than "good night".

    We do take "sun days". You're right-they're a huge pick-me-up.

    Today I am going to do a cooking with the kids session and let them make bagels. Hoping it will improve everyone's sanity rather than the opposite. :P

    Laying in a sunbeam in a semi-dozing state sounds like something I do when I'm pregnant. Just sayin'.

  6. What a fun and easy list! Yes, you'd think that we'd just know these things as at-home moms who also do the homeschooling gig. But I don't and then February arrives and I'm all like 'hey why does this hurt so bad?!' Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple and change things up just a little. It will do wonders, even if we've finally turned the calendar page from that dreaded February.

  7. ROFL. You make me so happy, Dwija. I don't even have any kids and this blog cheers me up. :0)

  8. I move things around. Called "searching for the Holy Grail of homeschooling, stay-at-home mothering, will February ever end?" redecorating. If my kids walk into the room and see me staring blankly at the (couch, bookshelf, thingamajig) one will often pipe up "Wouldn't that look good over on the other wall?" With 7 people in 1100 sq. ft. there are still a few changes I can make. Its us searching, for something to make the yoke of this small burden a little lighter. Like a horse shifting in the saddle. And it usually works!

  9. If laying in a sunbeam and letting your children eat dry Cheerios off the floor is wrong, I don't think I want to be right!

  10. I hate teaching school in February also! One thing that perked me up was to pick a subject that I love and teaching that to almost total exclusion of everything else for a week. I've got a colicky baby. My "teaching" often felt like shouting Wikipedia facts over a crying baby. It wasn't pretty. BUT my elementary age kids all learned a piece of info in February that I personally loved as a child. When my kids started talking about this subject while driving around together in the car, I suddenly felt like a million bucks! I think just one happy teacher moment in the middle of a dreary winter season is like a single crocus bringing a sign of Spring.


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