By Sharon Shirey
No doubt you have heard the saying “The days are long, but the years are short.” Well, what if the days are really, really long, but the years are short?
At least they might seem really long—especially in winter.
Remember, winter is a season. You knew that, but maybe still needed the reminder. It’s only a season, and every winter so far has been followed by a spring. And it always will. God made the promise to Noah after the great flood and had it written down, as it is a promise to all of us (Genesis 8:22).
So, we know that spring is coming, but first, how do we get through the winter? How did moms in past generations get through long, hard winters, with lots of young, needy children?
Our grandmothers knew the importance of connection and fellowship. They met with each other and prayed, shared family news and encouraging insight while they mended clothes, made quilts, canned veggies, etc.—and they didn’t even know they were “multi-tasking!”
Today, we seem to have gotten away from that social lifestyle. We can lead a life of isolation that leads to boredom, loneliness, and more isolation. The “remedy” seems to be distractions that lead us away from the true fellowship we were meant to have with our Creator, family, and friends. Our time is stolen by television, movies, Internet, etc. Social media isn’t really social interaction. Maybe we can get news from friends who live afar, but it doesn’t really take the place of quality face-to-face visits. We will get through this season easier if we are intentional about finding like-minded friends for fellowship. So, have friends over as much as you can.
For some practical ideas for you and your friends to keep your little ones busy during this time, visit the library and get books to read. Read to your children. Have them practice reading. After you finish a book, act out the story.
For crafts, make creations from play-dough, necklaces with string and pasta, bean bags, make snowflakes from folded paper, color or paint, or make puppets from paper bags. You could even take strips of construction paper and make a paper chain, daily tearing off a link each day until spring. Maybe your children (or you) need the visual reminder that spring is coming! This would be a great time to teach your children (depending on their ages) how to play some classic board games such as Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Battleship, Boggle, or Monopoly. Or, you can teach them some card games such as War. You can even reinforce Math skills by adding the value on the two cards placed up. Or, you can always build a fort in your living room with a blanket and clothesline.
You can cook together. Need some child-friendly recipes? You can make and enjoy hot chocolate, cinnamon toast, instant pudding, popcorn, or make a dip and cut up veggies. Have a tea party, inviting all your child’s dolls and stuffed animals.
Are you snowed-in and need some exercise? Put on a CD of action songs. Make bean bags and toss them to each other. Put on some upbeat music and dance, or do exercises (sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.) to the music. Call it aerobics. That sounds better to children than exercise. Or, bundle up and go for a walk outside. While you are out, if there is snow on the ground, scoop some up, and place it in freezer bags. Store it in your freezer. When summer rolls around, on a really hot day retrieve those bags of snow and have a snow ball fight in your yard. It’s a fun way to cool down! Getting that snow gathered up now will also be a reminder that summer is coming.
Have your children memorize this classic nursery rhyme:
Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!
You could always turn up the heat and have a pretend beach party. Let the children wear shorts or bathing suits, and pretend it is a warm sunny day.
You will get through the winter. And remember—it’s only for a season.
Sharon Shirey lives with her husband, Bob, in Washington State. They have four children, and three of those are grown and out on their own. They remember a few long (really long) winters when the children were young, and yes, they got through them. Now they want to encourage parents who are in a season of life that includes raising little ones. Sharon enjoys reading and playing the piano.