Wrestling a toddler into a car seat is not fun. Doing it when the icy wind is whipping around me, freezing my extremities in seconds, is a level of torture I never dreamed of as a pregnant mother. When I combine this reality with living in the country, the snow drifts across our driveway blocking me in, and nowhere we had to go when the kids were little, I spent a lot of their winters as little kids at home. It might sound nice and cozy to be in the warm house, it was easy to get depressed stuck in the same four walls with no view of anything (our old frosted windows kept me from seeing anything outside during the cold months).
I began to dread winter long before it came to pass in those years. With the first sight of a leaf changing color or the chill in the air, great fear hit my heart as I anticipated months stuck inside the house with little kids. I loved fall for years, but it quickly turned to a season that just signaled the beginning of winter to me. And winter was as dead for my heart as it was for the lilacs in my front yard.
I worked at home for a couple of years when Isabella was little. Then when Jack was born, I knew I could not do that job with two little ones, so we worked to pay off our vehicle loan and be able to live on one income. It would be a few years before Isabella started preschool, so we didn’t have a lot of activity filling our lives. I tend to be a homebody anyway, so the idea of staying home in the winter and not dragging the kids out of the house definitely appealed to me. I failed to recognize the toll it was taking on my mental health, unfortunately.
I did not learn this lesson as early as I wish I did, but I hope I can help some moms to keep this in mind when the kids are little. These are my four tips to help moms avoid the winter blues.
1. Leave the house! I know it’s hard, but even putting the kids in car seats for a nap or a movie while I drive around and drink a coffee gives you a little break from the norm, some sunshine (hopefully), and the opportunity to look at something other than the same four walls.
2. Have a play date. It doesn’t sound fun to bundle up the kids just to listen to them whine at someone else’s house. I get it. But the chance to get together with another mom friend is worth the effort. You can even read a chapter of the Bible or a book together and talk about it. We have a gym that opens to parents and kids with some fun activities and just space to run around, and we met there a few times as well.
3. Serve someone else. Sometimes you can’t take on one more thing without losing your mind, but other times you might be wondering what a mom with little kids can do when she’s stuck at home. Make a meal for someone who is sick or in a tough stage of life. Write cards. Help the kids draw pictures and write cards to mail. Visit an older person who doesn’t get out much.
4. Take a break! This is much easier said than done. However, any time I make the effort to arrange child care so I could do something that feeds my soul, I have never regretted it once. It can be a couple hours or a couple nights, but taking the time to get away in the winter months is a great reminder that life is short, the season will not last forever, and you will be refreshed and ready to keep going.
The older my kids get, the less daunting the winter season feels to me. They can put on their own coats and boots, buckle their seat belts, and play in the snow without my help to bundle up. It is hard to believe in the little years, but they do grow up. It gets easier and harder all at the same time.