Last year I wrote a post about being an SAHM who suspected she had a case of SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. Well, it has been a year and my perspective on the seasons has changed a ton! This year, I’m working hard to make winter my new favorite season. So far I am having some success!
I have always had some seasonal-based depression. I remember becoming aware of my mood change in high school. Around that time, I declared January through March– March especially!— to be the most miserable months in the year. So when a strong case of the blues hit me last year, I assumed it was due to the season. We did have an especially rainy winter last year. But I think a lot of my depression was caused by lack of rest. Scribble was 4 months old in January of last year. Around that time, sleeplessness had lost its novelty. Scribble was transitioning from sleeping in arms to motionless sleep, and at the time was waking up every 45 minutes, or simply refusing sleep altogether. A few weeks into 2013, we started sleep training. Scribble started taking 3 naps a day, which severely limited how much time I could spend outside of the house. All of this, in combination with the weather, took a severe toll on my happiness. I was just totally drained!
In comparison, this January Scribble is in a much easier phase. He sleeps 12 hours a night, and has one long afternoon nap. He is so active that I am nearly forced to get out of the house every day to drain his energy! We do classes and go to the park. None of this was an option a year ago!
My attitude about the seasons has changed remarkably thanks to becoming a mom. A friend of mine was musing on Facebook about how much she dislikes the winter season, and I commented that I was in full agreement. Another mom friend mentioned that she enjoys this time of the year because it offers a return to normalcy. In previous years this would not have registered with me, but this year it does. All the other seasons come with pressure to maximize every moment: berry-picking in the summer, pumpkin patch visits in the fall, Santa pictures at the holidays. All that merriment amounts to a mom who feels she is in a frenzy to hit every seasonal highlight. In comparison, January feels like an endless expanse of time that we can fill with just about whatever we want.
I started noticing that my perspective on the winter was changing when I went through a blue period similar to my winter depression last July. It was an especially rainy, grey July and we were stuck in the house. I fully expected to spend every day last summer with my toes in the pool. But by late July, the heat and humidity were making it difficult to even get outside. It felt just like winter all over again!
I’ve noticed that kids are more tolerant of the cold than they are of heat. For some reason, I’ve always been more afraid of overheating Scribble than I have been of him getting cold. Plus, you can always solve the problem of too cold with another layer, but in July in Georgia, overheating is hard to avoid. Now that Scribble is no longer an infant, I don’t fear bundling him up and letting him loose!
So with all this in mind, here’s what I’m doing to turn winter into my new favorite season:
Bringing the outdoors inside. The wintertime landscape can be depressing. I rewarded myself for taking down my Christmas tree by planting some paperwhites in a bowl on my kitchen table.
Make Plans with Friends. Seems like for the last few months our weekend schedules have been overflowing with family obligations. Between Memorial Day and Christmas, there’s always a family function to attend, it seems! I’m always telling our friends that we need to get together, but it is difficult to muster the energy to leave the house when we have a free day. Winter time seems like the perfect opportunity to reconnect with people who we haven’t seen since the holiday rush started.
Try New Things: This whole family thing is really starting to get fun! Scribble is at a great age to try things like a trip to the aquarium or a children’s museum. Or we can visit one of the the big indoor farmer’s markets in Atlanta, then come home and put together a big feast.
Get Outside: The further I get into this parenthood thing, the more thankful I am to have landed in Georgia, where we enjoy temperate winters. After the unusually cold workweek, we were rewarded with blue skies and temperatures in the sixties this weekend! We spent a lot of time outside as a result. Last year I was complaining that our road isn’t convenient for taking walks or running. This is still true! But now that Scribble is walking, we can spend more time out in the yard, or take trips to the park.
Do Yard Work: The downside of having mild winters in Georgia is that we have outrageously hot summers. We start mowing the yard in April and don’t stop until Thanksgiving. I hate watching my husband come home from work and immediately start working in the yard until twilight. But in the winter, yard work is a blessing. It offers a chance for exercise, fresh air, and melatonin regulation. And since the weeds don’t need pruning, we can attack projects that we don’t have the ability to do in the summer, like clearing out parts of our yard, or building beds for next spring.
Plan a Vacation: We took our first family vacation in March last year, when it was still bitingly cold on the beaches. It didn’t matter! It was my first time traveling with a baby for that long, and the adventure of it was energizing. We look back on that trip with such fondness, we really would love to do it again! So we are saving up. If a springtime vacation isn’t a possibility for you, try a daytrip. I am counting down the days until the opening of local favorite Gibb’s Gardens, which features 20 million daffodils starting March 1st!
How do you make the most of the winter season with your little ones?