The transition to winter has been tough for us. During Spring, Summer, and Fall we fell into an easy rhythm of being outside with friends during the majority of waking our hours. We tried to continue our schedule as the temperature dipped into the 20s. Emily doesn’t seem to mind the cold above single digits, but Nathan cries. We’ve had to surrender to a winter of mostly indoors.
I’m learning to suppress the panic of being trapped. We’ve had to up our problem identification and solving to make the adjustment. I’m starting to embrace winter as our season for reading loads of books, playing games, cleaning the house, rotating toys, organizing, and going to museums. A time to do all the things we don’t even dream of doing when we can be outside in the sunlight instead.
Today we spent the day fixing things. We’ve acquired quite the collection of things that needed to be glued, sewn, or taped together: laundry stand, sheets, books, wicker basket, a special Mickey Mouse pencil. Andrew surprised us with designing and 3D printing new stands for the chutes and ladders game so they less than the height of the box when on their sides and can easily be closed.
We also read at least an hours worth of Beatrix Potter Stories all cuddled under a blanket. Emily is in the midst of a serious developmental spurt of wanting to be independent and yet needing more reassurance and hugs. Nathan had a flu shot yesterday and has been sick with a fever today. He slept for 3 hours – an exceptionally long stretch for our 45min-1 hour napper, and spent most of the morning strapped to me in the ergo.
Of upmost importance has been developing new afternoon and evening routines to support a life indoors with active children:
I prepare dinner after nap time/Rest and Read time while the kids are eating snacks. This keeps them occupied and happy while I’m focusing on food prep and also frees up the afternoon and evening for me.
We begin clean-up for the day at 4pm. Once the toys are picked up we either read books or play very active chase games together before dinner. The focus is giving Emily and Nathan lots of attention before we sit down for dinner so that they actually eat their meal and are better able to participate in the conversation.
Dinner starts at 5pm, which leaves time for everyone to pitch in the clean up. We all clear and wipe the table, sweep the floor, wash the dishes, and clear off the counters. This usually takes us to 5:45, at which time we jump in a play a game together. Usually Emily still has loads of energy so we play tag, chase, red light green light, and hide and seek. A few nights as week we play a board game or card game together, which occurs on the nights when Nathan is ready to head right to bed at 6.
We have the kids both in bed by 6:30 or 7pm, leaving Andrew and I to do whatever we want or need to do in a clean house. I realized that after a long day I do not want to be working in the kitchen. I didn’t mind it so much in the summer, but after a full day inside I want to be curled up reading a book, working on a project, or chatting with Andrew. The one exception is I spend about 5 minutes 2 times a week mixing up sourdough bread.
Tonight while Andrew and I were cleaning Emily was silently filling up the top of the washing machine with her favorite things (purse, water bottle, little baby dolls, notebook, lipstick (crayons)) and then brought a blanket over to cover her up. We saw her with legs dangling, sticking up from underneath the blanket and had a great laugh. Then we played a few rounds of hide and seek, each taking turns on top of the dryer.
The most wonderful development to our winter routines would be Nathan’s use of a spoon and fork. As with all things food related, he figured it out first try.
And last, my new secret weapon for the winter (that isn’t new at all, my mom essentially earned a degree in fort making with her elaborate designs for us): forts. The curvy boards add an exciting element, whether as a room or a roof. Emily loves imagining in them and Nathan shrieks and yells with delight as he crawls and climbs through them.