I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. As I type this blog, there is about a foot and a half of snow in my front yard and my preschooler is literally running circles in the house. We are on our 3rd snow day of the season, with preschool closed. He is only a few weeks away from turning 5 years old, and Lord knows that both of us need a few hours at preschool three times a week. But we live in the Midwest where winter means snow and ice, boots and mittens, cocoa and snow angels.
This winter, with its below freezing wind chills and accumulating snow, is teaching me some major life lessons. While I am a summer girl through and through, preferring flip flops to wool socks and outdoor street festivals to sledding hills, this winter has forced me to slow down and realize that even the coldest season has something to teach me about life and parenting.
I have learned that boredom is good sometimes. Before I became a write-at-home Mama, I worked for 14 years in the health care field, planning events and activities for a variety of special populations. I’m the mom that can come up with a science experiment or craft when we only have paperclips, marshmallows, and food coloring in the cabinets. I stay off Pinterest and don’t have a desire to create Pinterest-perfect activities, but I do like engaging my son during the day. However, this winter, my bag of tricks is already running low.
With Jackson being plenty old enough to play by himself for longer stretches at a time, I found myself at my wit’s end a few weekends ago. We had just worked on a few fun science experiments and made breakfast together. It was 11am, and he asked me what we were going to do next. I found myself feeling like a circus clown, there to entertain all day long.
But that isn’t my job. I remember plenty of times growing up with my brother in the middle of Illinois. We lived at least a 20 minute drive from our small town, at least 15 minutes away from my closest friend. My brother and I were bored a lot. But that boredom led to imaginative play, to extra quiet time curled up with a book. This winter, I have let myself know that boredom is okay. Both my son and I have had to adjust to a calmer and slower pace, without planned activities at every turn. But allowing for creative play to happen organically is one of the best things that we have done this winter.
Finally, I’ve learned that outdoor time is a necessity at our home. While I wouldn’t consider myself 100% outdoorsy, my soul and sanity requires daily time outside to breathe fresh air, soak up the Vitamin D, and explore. Aside from the days when it reached -30 degrees, we have bundled up and headed outside. Sometimes we are only outside for a 10 minute walk down the block before we hurry home for blankets and hot chocolate, and other times we find ourselves looking at animal tracks and hunting for the perfect icicle for 40 minutes before I even glance at my watch.
There is plenty of fun to be had outside even on the snowy and cold days. I’ve learned that I can get pretty cranky if I only leave the house to jump in the car and head to preschool or the grocery store. It might take a bit longer to bundle both of us up in the winter months, but our time outside has benefitted my preschooler and me.
If you aren’t a winter person, I encourage you to try it out this year. You might be surprised. With all that said, I still prefer summertime. C’mon, May!
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