Also titled “How to
attempt to not lose your mind in a 600 square foot off grid house with 6 children”
Winter is hard for mama’s everywhere. Well except for yall down there in Florida or SoCal who apparently chose to not participate. Most of the country can’t talk to yall right now. Call us childish, whatever. Posting all those weather screenshots showing 80’s, running around in flip flops and shorts while we are dealing with yet another ice storm. Even South Texas mama’s were involved in winter this year (big shout out to the newbies joinin’ in this year)! Just sayin, yall could have at least had a few days in the 40’s so we could be a united mom front.
Ok, ok, true, I may be one of those mama’s to ladies north of the Mason Dixon who have been dealing with this epically brutal winter with 87 feet of snow falling every week. So maybe I really shouldn’t be writing a post titled “How to Survive Winter” being as I am really not all that qualified compared to most of the country. The south is known for its long summers and short winters, while we may not have been lucky enough to have the snowfall, we have gotten to experience the arctic cold more than usual. Besides, we have been having ice storms since November… and here we are in the beginning of February with 3 in one week and 2 more on the way! I do feel I have learned a few survival tricks that I can pass along.
1 – Netflix on the phone, DVD on the laptop. Often. Two or three children on each. It’s much easier to get a small group of similar ages to agree on what to watch. You know that carbon footprint we have been lacking since we started this offgrid adventure? Yea, it’s shot now for as much as we have idled the truck to charge batteries so we could run the laptop for most of the day. I’m sorry Mother Nature but my sanity depends on it. And at this season of life, it is worth it. Don’t worry, we will make up for it again over the next 9 glorious warm months.
2 – Don’t ignore the educational value of GIMP, Sculptris and Minecraft. Some schools are using Minecraft as a school subject. Photo editing/digital sculpting are wonderful skills for your future bloggers and graphics designers. Set a timer to take turns and declare any fighting results in it being turned off, regardless of who hasn’t had their turn. Children as young as 4 are amazingly proficient after watching the olders for a few moments. The non-playing children will likely gather around the watch the one playing – think about it, 15 minutes each, 5 children, counting in the “transfer” time – you have just bought an hour and a half! Just remind yourself that once the weather gets above 60 the children’s screen time will be reduced to near nothing, that should help with the mama guilt.
3 – Jump around! There isn’t much room for running and playing but when taken a few children at a time we can still play Mother May I, Simon Says and a few other “please just jump and run in place for the next 15 minutes Mr. 4 Year Old Boy Who Never Runs Out of Energy” in the living room and kitchen. Mama directed jumping is much safer than say, self-directed jumping from bed to bed upstairs. Bed’s that usually have an older sister happily drawing quietly. That never ends well.
4 – You know that old “chose your battles” mantra? Employ it. Often. So baby is coloring on her now pants-less legs with a black marker, is that really a battle you want to engage in right now? You may just switch out the marker for a lighter colored washable and enjoy the 10 minutes of entertained quiet it buys you. Likewise, the older ones may or may not be eating peanut butter or yogurt by the spoonful sprinkled with chocolate chips. You may or may not quietly turn around and walk back upstairs pretending you didn’t see anything. A bag of chocolate chips is a small price to pay for harmony among siblings.
5 – Have older children? Ever so quietly ponder that chocolate chip cookie dough would be yummy right about now. They will likely jump at the chance to do it! Besides working on math and cooking skills, it will help foster independence. And take up a much larger block of time than if you did it. An hour later, everyone can settle around with a big ole heaping spoonful of yummy cookie dough! Or two… or three… Score! An hour later, repeat #3 and wait for the sugar crash. This little exercise may even lead to other cooking endeavors – encourage it!
6 – When all else fails, play on your smartphone and let the chaos reign. It’s less than an hour until you can happily announce “bedtime”. You’ve made it this far. You desperately need some away time. Do what you need to do to just. Get. Through. Go read some blogs written by other mama’s just trying to get through this long stretch of winter. Or read some garden blogs and dream about warmer weather with the children romping happily while you tend to the biggest tomatoes you’ve ever grown.
At the end of the day when everyone is tucked quietly into bed, remind yourself that there is a warm up on its way. By June it will be warm. Guaranteed. Then we can bask in the glory of hours and hours of outdoor play that results in sweat smelling children with filthy feet. And plans for a nice big heated 2 car garage for a summer project are floating in my head… Just a little longer mama’s. The warm up is on its way!
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