Waiting for the Thaw


I am not one to complain about the weather. It seems futile to choose to live in Canada and then complain about the snow. Frankly, I like the white stuff and the cold, and out here on our 30 acres of paradise the snow has never looked more beautiful. I even appreciate the fact that I’m learning to drive (finally) in this extreme winter weather. However, staring down the barrel of March, with no end in sight of this deep freeze, I’m starting to feel like I wouldn’t mind a bit more mud.

If ever there was a winter to be far away from the big city this would be it. Our Toronto friends have had to deal with all kinds of unpleasant winter side effects starting with the pre-Christmas ice storm. I guess we’ve had it easy out here in comparison, but for the sake of trying to be helpful to any of you suffering from the winter blues, here are my tips for surviving the next month or two of wintery weather.

1. Get a hobby. I’ve taken up knitting, which I’ve decided is a metaphor for life. I was really only good at the basics, and with most projects that were beyond the first two basic steps of knitting (knit and purl) I had to take apart my work and start  again three or four times. All of my skills were gathered through YouTube tutorials and the Internet, and for some reason I am able to remain calm and even good-natured through my mistakes. Remarkable if you know me. It’s been so rewarding seeing my work take shape, and I’m currently working on this adorable tunic for Ayla’s birthday at the end of March. Shh…don’t tell her. She thinks I’m making a giant tea cozy.

2. Turn off the TV. This may seem counter-intuitive, but eventually the noise of the TV will begin to bore you, especially if you’ve been trapped indoors for any lengthy amount of time.  We’ve declared a TV-free March, and this is forcing us to spend all kinds of quality time together and on our own. Yes, I realize we’re only three days into March, and perhaps the charm will wear off soon.

3. Bust out the board games. When we lived in Toronto, we used to love Snakes and Lattes. This board game filled cafe and bar gave us a chance to get out of the house, and spend some time connecting and playing together. Now, with a toddler, such excursions would be impossible, but we have a decent stash of games to make for a fun afternoon at home. We inject even more fun into this activity by inviting each of the kids to choose the snacks, on a rotating schedule. Noah likes the all-you-can-eat Goldfish cracker bar. Consider hosting a game night for your grown up friends, or create a game night club where each household takes turns hosting and supplies snacks and drinks. Just don’t play Risk. It’s unbearably boring, and often ends in tears.

4. Get outside. No matter how much you think being out in the snow will be a freezing cold drag, I guarantee you’ll have fun once you’re properly bundled and out there. With kids, and very little else to do, playing in the snow is a necessary fact of life. As adults, why not reclaim your youth with a tobogganing party or a trip to a beautiful ice skating spot? Take advantage of sunny days, if the temperature is bearable. I have personally enjoyed the occasional solo romp through our forest, which is so much easier to navigate without all of the foliage. Tracking turkeys and coyotes and deer has become another hobby of mine.

5. Find a warm haven.  If you force yourself to attempt to get outside, you’ll satisfy your need for some vitamin D. If you’re missing the heat, but can’t afford a getaway, get creative. Find a gym or a spa with a sauna, or steam bath if you like the humidity. Luxuriate in the warmth. Here we have the Butterfly Conservatory which is bright, filled with oxygenating plants and beautiful butterflies, and is steamy and toasty all year round.

6. Cook together. Consider this a great time to learn how to prepare your favourite family recipes. Invite a loved one or relative or bestie over to give you a cooking lesson. Cook or bake with your kids. The kitchen is a naturally cozy place of connection, and people seem to gravitate towards the kitchen when the weather outside is frightful. Take advantage of our access to ingredients and spend an afternoon cooking and eating with the people you like the best. Can’t cook? Can’t convince anyone to join you for cooking fun? Try YouTube for an array of fun tutorials including the always-amazing Chow.com

7.Read together. This tip is meant mostly for those of you who aren’t living on your own, and those of you who like your roommates. I always have a great time reading a book out loud with people whose company I enjoy. Select a book together and designate some time, with snacks and drinks, to enjoy reading this book. Make it a social activity, and keep the actual reading time to a length that doesn’t feel epic and allows for some socializing either before, after, or both. Keep it fun, and low pressure. Consider collections of short stories, particularly funny ones. Be sure to invite your single friends who live on their own.

8. Volunteer. Are you the kind of person who can’t sit still for very long because you get caught up in your own head? Are you feeling blah and depressed and filled with winter blues? Take yourself out of your own brain space and give your time and energy to someone (or something if you prefer the company of animals) who needs your help. You’ll get active, you’ll be forced to leave the house, and most importantly, you’ll gain some important perspective.

9. Get Organized. I never really understood the idea of Spring cleaning. Our Canadian winters are gruelling, and long, and as soon as the weather gets warmer, I want to be outside. The notion of staying indoors and doing housework seems ridiculous when hiking is a reasonable alternative. Use this cold, grey, dreary time to get your house in order. Finish those domestic projects that are indoors, so when the time comes to throw open the windows, you can enjoy some outdoor time. I know that housework is a drag, but around here we think such tasks are vastly improved with great tunes. And cocktails.

10. Exercise. Trust me on this one – if you want to avoid spiralling into a pit of winter-induced despair, you need to get your body moving. I fell off the wagon with the very modest YouTube yoga practice I had started at home. Now I am cranky and stressed out more than I care to be. My yoga mat sits mocking me from the corner of the room, and the second I post this I am going to do some sun salutations. Dedicate 20 minutes of your day to focused exercise. Your body, your mind, and most likely your family will thank you.

Do you have any winter survival tips? Please share! We could all use some help this season.