I once saw a picture of me as a baby, tucked inside a bassinet that was placed on a piece of frozen tundra. I was decked up to my rosy cheeks in a ball of snowsuit and scarf topped off with a huge grin on my face. It looked like I may have been on the verge of frostbite yet I appeared to be loving every minute of it.
My dad insisted that babies nap outside occasionally in frigid, fresh air. So when my own babies would slip into slumber on winter walks I would ensure there was a mountain of blankets on them while I warmed up with a quick latte.
Though it’s apparent I inherited my mom’s South American low tolerance for cold temperatures, I never dream of escape to tropical climes to forsake a whole winter season. The effects of the four seasons are too ingrained in me to miss out on this replenishing dance of deep crisp inhales and visible soul expressing exhales.
To keep the Peruvian half of me from rolling into a caterpillar ball until Mrs. Thaw sweeps the slush away I like to take a quiet moment before the first big dump of snow to redesign our daily routine. This helps ensure we honor a predictable rhythm so we can sail through the challenges that winter days can sometimes present.
The Hours of the Day
It helps for me to see the unfolding of the day on paper. Mark down on a sheet of paper the time in one hour increments, beginning with the time you usually wake up, to take up the whole page vertically.
Your Wake Up Call
Begin with marking down the time you wake up and the time you should be getting to bed. This time gap should equal between eight to ten hours. You’re going to be needing proper rejuvenation to cheerfully implement the next day’s rhythm. There are so many bugs going around this year it is of utmost important that Mama is getting the ample sleep she needs so she is healthy to implement this routine she’s designing here and not talking in the third person the whole winter long.
Ah, the Children are Up
Write down the times the kids wake up and when the lights go out. This time should equal between ten and twelve hours. This too will help ensure the rest of the rhythm flows more smoothly and hopefully with fewer meltdowns. If not, explore your bedtime ritual or ways to holistically tucker out the kids for more consistent deep winter’s sleep with more outside time, creative expression, pressure valves throughout the day like a giggle fit, or if all else fails, herbal tinctures.
And Now We Eat
Meal and snack times are the next item to place on the timetable. Factor in time to prepare the meals and snacks. When the kids ask for a treat remind them of designated snack time and quickly distract with something seasonal; like a snowball, or what we call a messy toboggan run; a face wash. Make this time an event worth waiting for by lighting of a candle, a winter verse beforehand or a story told while they munch.
Get Out Already!
In the summer I have at least two outside times on my nerdy little time table but in the winter, because it takes more time to layer all the layers and twice that time to dry them all off again, I mark only one. Therefore, I try to make it a juicy one; as in juicy from the wet snow and the defrosting of little children with hot liquids. Incorporate this time with an errand if you can such as checking the mailbox, walking the dog picking up something from the grocery store followed by something seasonal playful such as snowman building, snow fort making, bird feeding or tobogganing/face wash.
See where home making duties and other chores can fit in with the flow of the day and have the kids participate as much as possible. It’s surprising how much they can actually help and the sweetest exchanges always seem to happen here in the midst of these tasks.
See the Gaps
With the finished day in front of you pick a different colour pencil and draw a circle where nothing is happening. In that circle write down activities that nourish your soul or offer a memory of winter from your own childhood that was particularly magical.
This list will serve handy later in the quieter moments. The colder months are the perfect opportunity to really loiter here. A story by the fire, a family board game, quiet time in one’s own bedroom or just watching the snow fall out the window can bring much replenishment not only to the children’s soul but to mama’s sanity as well.
Now take this handy little schedule and make it pretty. Surprise the kids with placing it on the fridge with sweet little drawn pictures by your own hand of the events to look forward to for the day and week. If you’re not an artist draw stick figures. Remember to have fun and let go of perfection.
And let go of pesky perfection with adhering to this guideline in general. There is no way you will end up following this religiously but lean on it when you need inspiration and a reminder tool for how the day can unfold beautifully; one frosty breath at a time.
Kathy Stowell frolics in the deep snow of the Kootenay Mountains when she’s not defrosting by the fire in the strawbale home she shares with her dreamy husband, two adorable kids, giant cat and mischievous wiener dog. She offers a series of ecourses to help mamas draw in more simplicity, rhythm and flow to their busy days at Bliss Beyond Naptime.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.