Winter is in full-effect with cold winds, heavy coats, shorter days and hunkered down families homeschooling at the dining room table. We have had two snow storms here in Connecticut in the last week and are expecting another one in a couple days. And the blues are setting in.
I have always found January and February to be the hardest months to get through as a homeschooler. December is fun because of the holidays and March is alright because of Spring peeking through here and there. But January and February are cold, dark and still. I like to be moving and for most of the year, I like to be outside, but I basically spend the first two months of the year fighting with my husband to turn the thermostat up. I also run around sealing up all our old windows so I don’t freeze to death in my pantry as I choose tonight’s dinner. PLUS the additional isolating effect of the worldwide pandemic!
If you’re like me, you are beginning to feel a little sluggish in your routines, slacking on school work, and maybe even your home upkeep (don’t tell my mom). I am not a medical professional, but I am a mom, so I have come up with a few techniques to employ if I really begin to get down and de-energized.
See friends pandemic-style
This is harder with the pandemic, but not impossible. Almost a year into the worldwide emergency, you have probably identified a few people you feel you can spend time with relatively safely. We have a group we go hiking with twice a month (yes, even in the snow). We are outside the entire time. I have also met up with friends at the playground (outside again) or at a museum (inside, but plenty of space and masks). We are also taking virtual classes on a weekly basis with a virtual co-op that was started up a year ago.
Seeing other people draws you out of yourself and your own thoughts (all-be-it temporarily) and allows you and your children to interact with others and engage with others. I can’t believe how refreshed I am after a time like this when I am not my child’s only playmate/talkmate.
Do a new unit study
When I really hit a funk, I like to look at my kids and ask myself this question: What are they into these days?
For a couple weeks, my 6 year-old was talking to me about Archeology. So I decided to spice things up by grabbing an free Ancient Egypt lapbook from www.homeschoolshare.org.
His interest in this subject was already piqued, so he has been excited to work on it and it also happens to be a topic I like too. Plus, every homeschooler knows that there are ENDLESS resources for Ancient Egypt available to us including books, videos, crafts, etc. It has definitely breathed some life into our school time.
People need Vitamin D to counteract the effects of the lack of sunlight in the winter. I take a daily supplement. The use of Vitamin D to fight the Winter Blues is well-documented and an especially good idea nowadays with all the time our children are spending inside four walls.
“Those most at-risk for low vitamin D levels are people of color and people living at higher latitudes. – M.T. Cantorna, Professor of Immunology
According to the quote above, that means that a good portion of the world’s population need annual Vitamin D supplementation! And let’s face it, if you are schooling your children every day, keeping your home up and perhaps even balancing working with these things too, you are bound to be drained and need a little extra sunshine in a capsule.
Talk to a Friend
One thing is for sure, I have found during the last year I am talking to my friends less and less. It’s not on purpose, but with my local church not meeting and all our homeschool co-ops canceled – friend time is less and less. Despite this, when I reach out, people are there for me, and I am sure they will be for you too. We are all busy raising families and working, but, there is nothing like friend time. So reach out to the person that popped into your mind when you started to read this paragraph right now!
I know it’s not ideal if you are a summer (or even Fall or Spring-lover), but getting outside will help a ton. Total honesty? There are bloggers who could blog vociferously about the pleasures of playing outside in the winter…I just don’t happen to be one of them. But, I went outside yesterday with my son in the cold and a foot of snow and it was great. The snow was falling on us, we played and stomped around and got red-faced and it was uplifting. Here are a couple of mamas who have this playing outside in the Winter thing down.
Schedule things to look forward to
I hate the monotony of the winter months. And to be honest, in 2021 this is added to the monotony of “staying home to stay safe.” So I like to schedule things for our family to do so I have something to look forward to. Today, I have the pleasure of having a root canal, but that is not what I mean. I mean a special drive into the country or purchasing a new movie to watch as a family or an International Night where you cook international food and play international music and games or… you get the idea.
Get a S.A.D. light
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing. It is the type of depression that shows up after the rotation of the earth and distance from the sun changes in the cooler months. Light Therapy works! I have one of these lights on my desk and I turn it on every time I sit down to do something.
Light Therapy tricks your mind into thinking you are getting sun exposure. These special lights mimics outdoor light.
“Generally, most people with seasonal affective disorder begin treatment with light therapy in the early fall, when it typically becomes cloudy in many regions of the country. Treatment usually continues until spring, when outdoor light alone is sufficient to sustain a good mood and higher levels of energy…You and your doctor can adjust your light treatment based on the timing and duration of your symptoms.” – Mayo Clinic
Eat to Treat the Blues
As simple as it sounds, what you eat will have a major effect on the intensity of your moods. Of course this is true year-round, but especially during the winter months. That’s why supplementing your normal diet with intentionality during the winter months is imperative.
Food is energy and you need a specific type of energy to maintain your mood through the cold, dark months.
Check out these amazing resources for making sure you are eating right for the Wintertime.
Spend time with Him
Last, but certainly not least, is get some time with God. Our Father and creator did not create you to a. be perfect b. do it all alone. He has in fact, created us lean on Him and me dependent on Him (not INdependent). I will be doing a separate blog post on this topic soon!
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxieties on him, because HE CARES for you.
Blessings to you all and may your Wintertime be pleasant! – Jenny