My Australian readers may be counting down the days of summer. But when I look at my traffic logs, most blog readers appear to be in North America and Europe, and many of us are right in the dead of winter. The holidays have come and gone. Now it’s a slog through cold weather until the flowers bud in March.
In late 2015, I wrote a post for Fast Company called “The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter.” It became the website’s most-read leadership story of the year. It turns out that many of us struggle with winter, but as with the rest of life, so much is about mindset. And so I have been on a multi-year journey to develop a better attitude about winter.
One key component: spending more active time outside. I run outside whenever possible. I was treated to the gorgeous sunrise in the photo on this post the other morning. It was 20 degrees but wow, that sky!
We go for family walks. My husband insisted we walk through a local cemetery on a recent weekend, which was certainly different (we saw the grave of Anna Jarvis, who invented Mother’s Day, among others). We’ve been hanging out in the new house’s yard. There are some old stone walls and vines and the evergreen trees make the landscape beautiful, even if it’s bleak. The kids ride bikes on the driveway or jump on the trampoline we put in the garage.
I try to plan in fun things to look forward to. My husband and I can sometimes grab a quick dinner together on Monday nights, and so I have put some of these beginning-of-the-week dates on the calendar. I’ll go see a botanical garden greenhouse soon; warmth and flowers in winter are a special treat. In non-Covid times I have planned trips to warm spots. 2019 was amazing for that — San Diego with my eldest in January, Disney World with the family in February. That’s not on the calendar for this year, but is always an option in future years.
I’m spending some time daily on fun indoor past-times. I’m working on a new 1000 piece puzzle — one which is much more doable than the Star Wars monstrosity I recently finished (about a quarter of which was black sky — and pieces could plausibly fit in multiple places. Argh!). The kids and I are making progress on our Lego projects: The Saturn V rocket, a Lego Friends pirate-themed amusement park, a Lego City police station set.
In any case, all time passes. The 13-year-old is making his high school course selections. The baby is walking and (bliss!) slept through the night the past three nights. Eventually the days will grow longer, and the wind will have a warmth and energy to it — the earth thawing and the green rolling through the brown woods like fog. I don’t want to wish time away, and so part of that is taking winter as it is. There is a beauty to it. A starker beauty than magnolias in spring of course. But beautiful all the same.
What are you doing to enjoy winter?
Photo: Worth waking up for
17 thoughts on “How will you enjoy two more months of winter?”
As a reader in Norway I especially enjoyed this post.
I get through winter by treating myself to nicer woollen items, drinking lots of red wine and coffee, and trying to go outside. We can ice skate (sometimes) on the fjord which is a lovely serene experience. I burn wood in our fireplace almost every night, which is both cozy and frugal because we got the wood for free. As a person who is inherently a bit lazy, I also sometimes enjoy that winter gives you a free pass to just spend your evenings on the couch.
As a Minnesotan with sometimes 5 months of cold, this is definitely something I’ve been trying to think about with COVID making indoor activities much harder. Making the most of outside is definitely the key and having the right gear which you have mentioned previously. Our family (kids 9 & 6) took up downhill skiing this year and we now spend every Saturday skiing with friends, I bought ice skates for the family as well and am trying that out and I go for daily walks outside (today’s = 10 degrees) and in new locales when I have time for it (i.e. state or county parks). I’m definitely interested in other people’s ideas as well.
In a normal winter my elder daughter (20) would have been away at university in January, my younger daughter (16) at school all day in Sixth Form and I would have been out of the house from 8 – 6 every weekday at the office. I would not have seen the house in the daylight except at weekends. My husband already worked from home but would have been on his own (with the cat!) every weekday. This winter is different as we are all at home due to the pandemic. We have been trying to go for walks a few lunchtimes, mixing up who goes each day. I have done some gardening at lunchtime or filled the bird feeders. Today the girls made a special trip out to watch the sunset. We have played plenty of board games and cooked more adventurous meals than we used to have when people came in at different times or had evening actvities. I am very conscious that as the girls are nearing the time when they will leave home this period will be quite fleeting and am trying to make the best possible use of the strange chnace the pandemic has given us to spend more time together as a family. Of course I want lockdown to end and normality to return and spring to come, but this time together is very sweet.
I live in Saskatchewan, Canada, and agree with your attitude. My parents, who started taking me cross country skiing when I was a kid, always said that if you ski (or do some other winter sport) then you have a reason to look forward to winter.
My husband, my daughter, and I and I have been going skating, and my daughter and I (and sometimes my mom) have been going skiing. (It is a safe way to get together with my mom, so that is a bonus as well.) While we often go on Saturday or Sunday, I’ve been experimenting with going right after work (working at home) — it makes for a good reason to work productively during the day.
And the other thing I would say is, if you are able to do some lessons (of course may not be possible given COVID) that can make a big difference to your enjoyment of both skiing and skating.
And yes, walking. I walk with a friend over the lunch hour one day a week — remotely. We walk and talk on the phone. It is a great reason to get out.
Laura, you have mentioned circulation problems before — I have Raynaud’s syndrome, and so my fingers and toes get cold easily. My husband bought me electric mitts last Christmas, and they are great (though I sometimes use them in combination with hand warmers (“little hotties”). Haven’t quite figured what to do about the cold toes, yet, though we have the foot warmers — sometimes there is not enough room in your boot/skate to fit them in comfortably.
@M – I have been making use of those little hand warmers – they are helpful! I’ve found that a “wet” cold seems to be worse for me – I’ll get the shivers and then hives on my hands — white blotchy spots. All very strange. Between that and no longer being able to eat dairy I’m occasionally feeling like I am falling apart.
Laura, may I suggest visiting an allergist. I work for one and there is a condition called cold urticaria. An allergist may be able to treat that as well as discuss your new dairy intolerance. There’s no need to suffer if there’s an easy treatment.
Reading is a favorite pastime year round, but winter is an especially nice time to curl up with a good book! You might like Wintering by Katherine May. It’s an exploration of winter as a season of rest and renewal. She draws on science, mythology, and her personal experience. I recommend it!
I’m in the middle of this book and it’s wonderful. I also highly recommend.
@Laura: the author, Katherine May, might be an interesting BOBW guest. I heard her interviewed on another (parenting) podcast and she’s lovely. I think in some ways, she would be a bit of an atypical BOBW guest – she went out on sick leave when some life things got to be very overwhelming and might be a good person to discuss when something drastic like that is the better option than, say, hiring more childcare or talking to a boss about changing level of responsibility or adding more flexibility with work from home. Someone to consider?
I’ve signed up for online art (watercolor, drawing, pen and and ink, etc.) classes and a series of online Tai Chi classes!
Winter gear recommendation: flannel-lined jeans. I finally bought some this year and they are awesome, especially for walking outside and time spent (socially distanced) hanging out with others outside.
As a resident of northern New England, I love winter in January and even into February. My problem is that it doesn’t seem to end—March is still cold and snowy and sometimes so is April. I just came across an email referencing a late April snowstorm last year. Even last May was pretty chilly. So I have a hard time maintaining my enthusiasm for winter through 5-6 months—I’m tired of the things I enjoy about winter at that point, but it’s difficult to do spring things before spring really arrives. I’ve tried to think of it as “fall in reverse,” because I love fall, but it only slightly works for me.
Flannel-lined jeans sounds like a fantastic idea… now I need those too.
We typically take advantage of our indoor memberships this time of year (aquarium, museum, etc.), but have embraced bundling up and getting outside this winter. We made a trip to the zoo last weekend to check out the outdoor exhibits and playground. For this weekend, I booked an hour at a local farm. We’ll take a picnic lunch and explore the property. I think we’ve done more picnics in the last 10 months than the rest of my 42 years combined! But we all do better when we get out of the house for some sunshine and fresh air.
I am glad you are encouraging finding things to look forward to in the remaining winter months. January – March is my least favorite time of year. We too are going to visit a botanic garden. It’s about 40 minutes away so it makes a great weekend destination. Right now they have a Yeti exhibit, with brightly colored yeti figures hidden around their property. Plus heated greenhouses!! We’ve done the zoo, which makes outdoor time pass relatively painlessly. I found a list of 100 films to see before you die which I am working my way through. I’m not much of a movie person but it has been fun to see movies from different countries, time periods, genres. Our fireplace is getting use and I am making progress on my reading list (reading the Cortladt Boys right now!) Perhaps we will set up our fire pit as a nice late February/early March evening activity. Love all the ideas here.
@Lori C- thank you for reading The Cortlandt Boys! That means a lot to me — I appreciate it!
Australian here. Can’t wait for winter!!! The summers are brutal here. And with skin cancer rates so high, it’s hard to get outside and risk getting sunburnt.
I live in Florida, so winter is actually my favorite here! But I can turn your “how to enjoy winter more” ideas around and use them on summer, which I hate. Except for spending more time outside–that’s what I’m trying to avoid during summer :)!
Really thought provoking post, I am in the UK and as we are currently in lockdown things feel quite limited. As I’m now working from home I’m making more of getting wrapped up and walking to school and picking my sons up which is really nice:)) we’re also walking a lot more and making much more of our local area. Before lockdown we always felt like we had to drive really far for a ‘day out’ but now keeping it simple and local in our little village is actually really nice:))
I love your reading and it really inspires me to make more of my time every day and create a great balance for me and my family – even in lockdown!!