Winter. It’s what this great state of Minnesota is famous for—the long, cold, snowy, stay-in-your-house-kind-of-frigid days of winter. When my daughter was about 3.5 years old, she walked out into the frosty air, turned to look at me and with tears in her eyes said, “I don’t like winter, Mommy! It hurts me!” Straight up truth from a preschooler.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the beauty of winter—I love loads of snow, how it sparkles with magic, and the picturesque scenes it creates. I love hearty soups bubbling on the stove and fresh baked muffins filling the air with warm temptation. I love movie nights, mugs filled with warm drinks, and cuddles under thick afghans from morning until night.
What I don’t love is the cold. That bitter, bone-rattling, wind. The inhumane temperatures that drive me to involuntary teeth-chattering and body convulsions. I don’t love the gray skies—gloomy, colorless and overcast for days, rather WEEKS, at a time. It leaves me feeling gloomy and colorless on the inside, too. And I don’t love the isolation. My home becomes a hermitage, and I hibernate like the rest of the neighborhood until May.
News flash: WE LIVE HERE, PEOPLE! We are not just visiting somewhere on vacation or experiencing a rare snowfall that closes down the schools. Snowstorms are normal here. Freezing temperatures are a given for four months of the year. Let’s not resign ourselves to being miserable and grumpy for a third of the year. Let’s do something about it!
So here it is, friends… 6 keys to hating winter less:
1) Get the Right Gear
For many years, I muddled my way through winter with non-functional winter gear. I hate spending a lot, and good gear costs money. I was cold, wet, miserable and loathing wintertime with the depths of my heart. So, I watched for sales, and when the price was right enough, I invested in “winter wonderland happiness.” Real winter boots, warm mittens, long-underwear (or as I like to call it, Nordic lingerie). Once the kids had waterproof snowpants, they wanted to stay outside to play! Invest in the good stuff—it will last and can be passed down to subsequent children coming behind. Land’s End is my personal favorite, but check out REI and L.L. Bean as well.
2) Go Outside Anyway
Once you have the right gear, get out there and use it! We need fresh air. We need sunlight or at least daylight. And we need exercise-endorphins. Going for a short walk around your neighborhood gets you all that and a mental break that burns stress, too! Find an outdoor activity you can handle or even enjoy—ice skating at the local rink, sledding down the big hill in the park, and hiking through nature’s beautiful white playground. Consider checking out Play It Again Sports for ice skates and skis at a reasonable rate. Or better yet, trade in your old ones for a discount!
3) Stay Cozy Inside
Conversely, enjoy staying in! Build elaborate forts, cut out snowflakes and decorate the whole house, read books aloud. Make a Ninja Warrior course in the living room, take up coloring again, show your favorite childhood movie to your kids. Learn a new skill, research a national (or world) landmark. Do something that makes you feel cozy on the inside and doesn’t require wool socks.
4) Host A Get Together
We need to be together. Human contact, camaraderie, encouragement. That’s probably why there are five billion of us on the planet. Don’t stay penned up in your hermitage like a sad, crazed animal. Find some people, any people. Most likely they are just as desperate as you for a little break from winter solitude. So plan to go out for lunch together. Have a PB&J lunch/playdate at your home. Invite a family over for a meal and games. Have coffee in your pajamas with your neighbors or other good friends who won’t judge you. It can be as fancy or simple as time allows. Just do it already!
5) Make It Special
Make winter special by doing activities you ONLY do in the winter. For instance, we love the Minnesota Zoo, but we only do the Tropics Trail in the wintertime. Bowling is another event that’s become a winter treat. Stash away those ideas for January through March and give the kids that fun fix of nostalgia and something they can look forward to in the midst of those cold, dark months.
6) Find Light and Color
What I miss most is the sunshine. I’ve been known to plaster my whole body against the picture window in the front of my house just to get a little closer to that feeling of vitamin D and sheer happiness. But when sunshine isn’t a viable option, I supplement with daylight (outside), lamplight (inside), and vitamin D soft gels to tide me over. Splash some color into your wardrobe, on your walls or maybe just a few throw pillows. Color adds spice, depth, fun and most of all, life—what we are excited for spring to bring.
What would make this winter better or more bearable for you? For me, one year it was $150 to makeover our mudroom into a functional space. LIFE-CHANGER. Last year it was REAL boots—for me! This year it was a remote start in the minivan. Find your own key and start hating winter a little less!