Wintertime Parenting

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Categories Parenting

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.

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4 thoughts on “Wintertime Parenting”

  1. This is so on the nose! It’s not that cold here – lows around 38°F have been the norm – but I know that I’m a lot less patient in the winter. I find that my sunlamp helps my mood, which lifts everyone up, but we definitely miss our park time with the sun setting so close to the end of homework time. The cold even keeps us from messy activities with paint or bubbles we would usually do outdoors, so I find myself pulling out more fine-motor activities: beads to string, big think craft needles and produce mesh for sewing, lots of paper and scissors and glue and stickers.

  2. I am totally guilty of lousy parenting in the winter. I am ashamed that my kids have watched a crazy amount of movies this winter, and we go stretches of several days when we don’t even leave the house. I am counting down the minutes until Summer so we can play outside and go to playgrounds and not be cooped up inside all the time. It’s just such an ordeal to get them bundled up and I am really not a fan of being cold, so it’s easier to stay home.
    In the summer we were out nearly every single day.

  3. A few things that brighten my mood:
    Music, background or dance parties!
    Open all the curtains and blinds. Let whatever sunshine there is in!
    We do a lot of cooking projects in the winter.
    I have a better time doing our little preschool homeschool time in the winter months. It keeps us structured. Then we lose some of the structure in the summer.
    We leave the house everyday. Sometimes I just take them to the local thrift stores, like Savers, and let them play with the toys. Sometimes we buy a little something too.
    Lots of book reading, and book making. The kids love making their own little books with flaps to lift up!
    But hands down, we love summer best too!

  4. Winter is definitely more challenging. We live in Alaska with several weeks below zero. It is in 20s now so feels warm! I still make a point of getting out every single day. (Note: I have just one 17 month old son, but I just love your site and want to contribute.)
    Some ideas:
    * Local bookstores often have tables and play areas for kids.
    * Libraries also have play areas where toddlers dont have to be quiet.
    * Community recreation centers have family and toddler specific times. Low cost ($3 -5 usually) and lots of space to run and play.
    * Look on-line for groups to get connected with for play dates.
    * Our Parks and Rec offer free toddler programs at greenhouses where they read stories. Check your local municipalities. Greenhouses are awsome places to visit in the winter!

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