I don’t know about you, but winter is not my best parenting season. Wintertime brings longs nights and little sleep as my children suffer from colds, or are feeling cold and need help covering up with blankets. Winter brings short days with little sunshine, no recess due to the weather, and lots of sibling bickering. In winter we try to recover our pre-holiday routines, start our goals for the new year, and no one is interested–not even me. It is a struggle.
Each year I seem to forget this sluggish season in my parenting life and am surprised when it returns. I am tired, I have no new ideas, I am not patient. I’ve forgotten everything in my bag of tricks. It is hard to find ways to fill up my bucket, and renew myself, so I can give the kids the time and attention and love that we all need. I long for warm weather, time outside, the next season.
So we muddle through. I schedule one-one-one activities with each child. Pulling one child aside to go to the grocery store counts. Even going so far as to get one twin a playdate so I can have lunch at McDonald’s with the other. Going to the park and freezing, I mean, playing. Giving my undivided attention.
I am a big believer in the theory of “floor time”. When the after school bickering is too much I drop what I am doing–usually cooking the next meal for hungry children–to facilitate a quick game of Zingo Bingo, to sit on the floor with a wronged child and listen to a litany of complaints, to separate the older girl from the boys for a few minutes breather before joining her to brush American Girl hair and listen to her day. We all have the wintertime blues.
We try to cope. We make plans for the spring. We look at gardening books from the library and catalogs in the mail. We buy a few houseplants and make a bird feeder from a milk carton. We take quick bike rides around the block looking for the first flowers and trees to bud. We count down the days until spring.
Do you parent differently in the winter than you do in the warmer months?
Leslie H. is a freelance writer and parent to a spunky eight-year-old girl and two adventurous four-year old boys.