For many of us moms with small children, the arrival of winter each year brings a unique set of challenges. We are happy for Christmas and the chance to wear cozy winter clothing, but, at the same time, winter means more difficulties. The whipping winds and onslaught of snow (in certain U.S. states) makes even the most ordinary tasks daunting. Getting our kids dressed to go out, warming up our frost-covered cars, and driving takes double the time as normal.
Are your children like mine in that they hate to wear their winter coats? My children are such wiggly worms that I struggle to get them dressed for outside. They aren’t just reluctant to put on their coats; they can get downright combative. Many times, I have to let my five-year old (whose middle name is High-Maintenance, below) step outside and “feel” how cold it is before she’ll let me stuff her into her winter coat.
In winter, we moms search frantically for missing hats, gloves, and scarves. Other days we dab runny noses, hoping that our kids aren’t sick. As much as we hate it, flus and colds are inevitably passed around.
Our minivans slide on ice. We grit our teeth as we drive, repeating to ourselves our winter driving mantra: “Slowly, drive slowly.”
Some days we wonder if it’s safe to let our kids play outside. Just when is it too cold to let them go out, anyway?
As sunless day follows sunless day some of us grow grouchy. We morph into some kind of Mom-zilla who barks orders at our children or husband. Gray skies make us cranky and irritable. When we wake in the morning we wish we could just stay in bed. If only we could hibernate... but we can’t. We have kids who need us. We have responsibilities.
Fortunately, there are some ways we can pass through winter without too many problems. Winter doesn’t have to be so hard for moms with small kids. Here are some tips that can make your life easier during the coldest season of the year:
- Plan that everything will take a little longer. It helps to remember this ahead of planning activities and events. Allow for extra time for every task and activity.
- Get kids involved in taking care of their winter gear. If kids are old enough, moms can teach their kids to show responsibility by taking care of their hats, gloves, scarves, and boots. Have a central place in your home for these items. Encourage kids to store these things where they go. Some moms like to label their kids’ clothing in case items get lost at school or elsewhere. The most organized mothers can do a quick nightly inventory of their kids’ winter gear.
Having a "home" for outdoor gear is a good way to stay organized!
- Plan ahead for days stuck inside the house. Set aside activities to keep kids busy if they’re ever stuck at home on a snow day or stuck inside during bad weather. My kids’ favorite winter down-time activities are painting, play-do, cookie-decorating, puzzles, and TV- watching.
- Make a judgement call whether or not to let your kids go outside. Kids need time playing outside. But, sometimes it’s hard to know how cold is too cold for kids to go outside. I’ve heard one pediatrician say 40 degrees fahrenheit is too cold. But, growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I went outside to play all the time when it was much colder than 40 degrees. (And I’m still alive to talk about it.) However, moms of infants should be careful. If moms have to take their babies outside in 32 degree weather or colder, it should only be for a short time.
- Boost your mood in winter time. For moms who struggle mood-wise in the winter, exercise is crucial. Twenty minutes of cardio twice a week can do wonders for one’s emotional well-being. Many people who are prone to seasonal affective disorder buy a sun lamp or take Vitamin D supplements in the winter. Sometimes, an extra cup of coffee or a chat with a good friend is enough to perk up a melancholy mood.
- Prevent catching the flu or a cold. Moms should try to help family members get good sleep and eat nutrient-rich food in the winter. Doing these things improves immune systems and lowers the chance of sickness. Another good idea is to avoid sharing food, drink, and utensils with others to avoid germ-spreading.
- Supplements and Vitamins for Winter Health. Some moms swear by taking zinc, echinacea, or vitamin C at any hint of cold or flu. Moms can also administer one teaspoon of elderberry syrup to their kids every day as a preventative measure during the wintertime.
Sailor Mercy is a Minneapolis - St Paul based company that makes small batches of elderberry syrup.
- Tricks for when kids refuse to wear their coats. For many kids, refusing a coat is all about the power struggle with mom or dad. Moms can give their kids choices about which coat to wear. Or, when shopping, parents can allow their kids to choose which winter coat they want to buy in hopes that they’ll be more willing to wear them. Sometimes, moms just have to say, “This is not optional. You have to wear your coat or you don’t get to play outside” or “If you don’t wear your coat I can’t take you to” such-and-such place. Other kids, like my daughter, will put on their coats if they can feel outside just how cold it really is.
- Practice safe driving. I need to be reminded every winter to drive slower than usual. Moms, remember to drive slowly and be extra alert in the wintertime. Sometimes we need to make a judgment call on whether or not to risk driving in inclement weather. Stay tuned to local weather channels. Most big cities have a mobile app showing road conditions and closures. When driving with our children, remember that we are travelling with precious cargo. We’d hate for anything to happen to our kids.
Moms, what about you? What things have you found essential in helping you get through the cold winter months? Comment below on what thing/s most help you make it through to spring.
Bio: Catherine Writer is an introverted-extrovert who enjoys writing about motherhood and parenting. She blogs for Houston Moms Blog and Her View From Home. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CatherineWrite3.