What’s saving my life right now

Winter months are hard.  Especially for homeschool families, those with new babies and those who live in the frigid North where many days the temperature doesn’t reach double digits.  We fall into all of those categories. So in order for me to keep my sanity, I’m doing the following things.  Maybe not every day, but as often as I can.

Time Outside

I know that time outside, soaking up as much sunshine as possible from our often bleak winter sky is necessary for my health and happiness this time of year.  Whether it’s sledding, a short walk or a more elaborate snowshoeing excursion, I need time outside frequently to feel more like myself.

It’s difficult to make that happen on a regular basis with a tiny one, but we’re working on it.  One of my goals this year is to take each of my three big kids hiking one-on-one each month.  At this point in the year that looks more like snowshoeing.  While I’ve already semi-failed at this one (due to illness, I missed one of my kids in January), I’m going to keep going with it.  Hitting that goal on some months will be better than not trying at all. And when we do make it out, I love the dedicated solo time with my little people.  Ellie (12) is a non-stop talker.  When she gets a chance to talk to a parent uninterrupted, it seems she’s preparing for a most words per minute race.  The parent needs to make appropriate noises periodically, nod and smile when necessary, but she carries the conversation along and darts from subject to subject like she’s been saving a list of topics in her mind for weeks and can’t decide which to talk about first.

One of my boys has surprised me with how much he looks forward to our time together.  It makes him so happy to have me all to himself.  He holds my hand and we talk about silly things.  Every two minutes he says, “I like to be with you Mama.” Or “I love you Mama”. Then slowly he begins to tell me stories about funny things his friend said, or elaborate hero battles he’s enacted in his head.

Creative Time Together

This is the hardest part of the school year for me.  In order to add a little happiness to our day right off the bat we’ve been starting each day with what we call “Art Video time”  This happens even before our Morning Time routine.  Each morning during breakfast one of the kids gets to choose an inspiring video from CreativeBug or Skillshare to watch together.  So far they’ve always been art videos, but we could go so many different directions with this if we wanted to.  I love seeing how watching these videos together sparks similar drawing or painting projects from my kids after they’ve been inspired by the artists we’ve watched.  (By the way, you can get a free month on CreativeBug and a coupon to Joann by clicking here.  Or get 3 months of Skillshare for $1!)

My habit of painting or drawing something every day (now in my third year) is a huge source of joy and inspiration for me.  You can follow along on Instagram to see what I’m creating every day.

Time with Friends

I didn’t know I was an introvert until I reached adulthood. I just thought I was weird because in situations where I was comfortable I could be bubbly and outgoing and loud and in other places or different company I had a different temperament all together.  As it turns out, I’m an INFJ, which is the extrovertiest of introverts. So I need people and I like to connect with others, but then I need some time by myself to recover.
I sometimes find myself feeling cooped up and frustrated and then realize that I need to interact with someone who is not a tiny person living in my home.  We’ve had friends over to play educational games for an afternoon (see below) and we’ve started going back to co-ops and other group activities after a few months away since little Edith was born.  Connecting with people is high on my list of things that make me happy, but I often forget about it since I’m continually surrounded by people.

Educational Games

We’ve fallen in love with playing educational games this winter. Taking even just a few minutes to play a game is a huge mood booster for all of us. Some of our favorites include:

Flag Frenzy (like Spot It but for country flags)
Timeline (there are a ton of versions of this.  We love the US History version!)

Fun Things to Watch

A Series of Unfortunate Events— Our whole family is loving this.  We’re watching it slowly and making it last as long as possible.  We really only watch things on the weekends all together, so we watch one or two episodes each week and we really look forward to it all week long.

The Crown— Jason and I are watching this one slowly, also.  We like to have a “smart show” to watch when our “dumb show” feels too dumb.

Our “dumb show” right now is Speechless.  It’s funny and silly and perfect to watch an episode with Jason while I nurse the baby one last time before bed.

Timeless is also a favorite, and it’s on the smart show side, if you can suspend your critical thinking a little bit.

What is helping you stay sane this winter?

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for some more mid-winter inspiration.

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