I’ve been struggling this winter. I know I’m not alone. I keep thinking that so much of my struggle is a mental battle I could simply overcome. The cold has really gotten to me and sapped my energy and motivation. I remember reading something about how any type of consistent discomforts (willpower, small amounts of pain, small worries, etc.) can add up and render us unable to handle life.
I feel like that has been the story of this winter. Being constantly cold, having to do so much work to just go outside, having sick children fighting, trying to find ways to entertain us for these long days we spend just at home—it has all seemed really hard more often than not. Having a good attitude has been difficult. I never knew how much sibling squabbles could escalate when you’re all just at home almost all day every day.
The day the groundhog saw his shadow (which was also a clear and bright Candlemas day) felt particularly grim to me this year.
But all this is sounding pretty glum, so I’ll move quickly to the good things we’ve discovered in this season (in hopes that maybe you’ll find a few good things too). Plus, today is beautiful, so my sanity feels restored.
- Taking a break from non-fiction can be life-changing. First it needs to be said that I am a fast and very literal reader (this has often been a problem!). I had started reading about a particular educational philosophy (in preparation for homeschooling this Fall). I was reading SO much (in addition to being part of Facebook groups where people were constantly asking and answering questions). My brain felt like it was constantly wired, and I began to overanalyze our lives. So I took a break from reading most non-fiction (especially before bed), as well as social media. I just needed less words. It has been so refreshing. And I’m finding my own words come back.
2. We started a new daily rhythm at home a few weeks ago. It has helped tremendously even if we don’t follow it every day. The big things are:
- Breakfast + Bible time with candles each morning
- After breakfast, the boys help me unload the dishwasher and then do morning chores (brush teeth, make beds, do a little housework),
- We play.
If we get more of the schedule done, that’s great, but many days we don’t, and I’m fine with that too. Our main goals in this season are to love each other well, play outside, read books, and work on obedience. Our daily chart is pictured below. The cards are from Peaceful Press.
3.Play-doh can change the direction of a day. I love making play-doh, and both my sons (4.5 and 2) find it so soothing. It sometimes feels less mentally taxing for me to sit on the sunny window-seat and play play-doh with them than help build things or make up games. It’s been a good way to spend intentional time with them even when my own brain feels fried. (We have this set of Play-doh tools and this is always the biggest hit).
4. I need a new perspective. On a particularly rough morning, I read this in the Slant letter, one of the most encouraging writing newsletters:
Those words totally changed my perspective. Instead of looking at this time as something to get through, I've been trying to see all the good and beauty, all the storing-up and noticing I can do. Just like the trees, we go through seasons where we may look (and feel) dead, but life is still happening, and the season will come for blossoming and fruit. My word of the year is praise, and I need to look more at all the beautiful things I can praise God for even in a time that seems depleting.
I read this short book and began keeping my own Happy Journal, which has been such a fun way to notice things around me and exercise my creativity, even when the boys are running around. I've also been taking more time to write and am reading through the Bible with my favorite reading plan at night again.
Other little things we are loving:
- These tiny, jam-filled pancakes
- Music to fill our days (Seeds is our current favorite, and we are listening to lots of Tchaikovsky too).
- Chicken pot pie (this turned out amazingly!)
- Beans in the Instant Pot (or really, anything in the Instant Pot!)
- Pillow piles (basically you take all the cushions and pillows in the house and make a huge pile for the kids to run and jump into, or climb, or turn into bear caves).
- I'm reading these books for each of our kids (four and two). They always help me more than words can say as far as knowing what is developmentally normal. Plus the authors just seem to love kids and help me see the best.
How is this winter going for you?