Despite the calendar, February can be long and lingering. Empty playgrounds, snowy, stroller-sabotaging city sidewalks, lots of inside time--they can take their toll during dark, wintry afternoons.
When my oldest was a mitten-resistant toddler, February days seemed especially difficult. Over the past few winters, I've relied on some daily practices that have made this month move much more quickly and rewardingly:
Get outside. Even on New England's most bitter winter days, we try to get outside for a short time for some fresh air and movement. It may just be a quick walk around the block to the coffee shop or the library, but being outside boosts our energy, keeps us healthy, and makes us more grateful for the warmth of home.
Enjoy winter sports. In the past, I felt the need to flee from a harsh New England winter, dreaming of tropical beaches and far-away places. I have discovered that instead of running away from this sleepy season, the key is to tackle it head-on. We immerse ourselves in winter recreation: skiing, skating, snowshoeing, sledding, snowman-making, sidewalk snowbank-climbing--and settling for swimming in heated indoor pools instead of warm oceans.
Visit winter playgrounds. Delightfully vacant, winter playgrounds offer new ways to experience familiar swings, and slides, and merry-go-rounds. Sometimes we spend only 20 minutes before the ice and wind shoo us away, but quick playground trips can be fun and peaceful winter excursions.
Embrace winter rhythms. I've found that if I actively welcome the rhythm of winter and its necessary inside time, it becomes a much more satisfying time of the year for our whole family. We read a lot more, we cook a lot more, we craft a lot more; we rely on our toys to spark imagination; we watch as sibling bonds deepen and sweeten; we listen to a lot of music and audio books (including our favorite, Sparkle Stories); we appreciate our limited outside time and are grateful for both snowy days and melting days; we settle in to quieter, calmer rhythms, simpler activities, and earlier bedtimes. We slow down and burrow in.
Focus on family and friends. During winter's hibernation, I have learned that with boredom comes opportunity: the opportunity to be fully present with my children, to see them, snuggle them, know them; to be fully present with my spouse and loved ones and appreciate the warmth they bring on these cold days; to seek and savor special moments with friends to lift our spirits.
Watch for spring. In these frozen, grey days, springtime can seem very far away. But signals of the coming season increasingly appear as February moves along. What I notice most lately is the light: the brightness at dinnertime, the mornings that don't seem as long.
The light. It glides me through these lingering February days.