Surviving Winter

While Winter poses some very real fun such as skiing, sledding, snow man making and lotsa hot chocolate it can also be a time of much frustration and woe.  Long gone are the days of “go outside and play” while locking the door behind them and telling them to pee on the tree.  Because in the winter there is real threat to life and limb with that ever dropping wind chill/temperatures.  And forget peeing on the trees, they can barely get themselves INTO snow clothes to begin with so asking them to de-mitten and figure out the snow pants while having to pee is an insurmountable task.  The only option is Depends which has actually crossed my mind but then I remembered how hard we worked at potty training — why undo all that praise, love and reward for going-on-the-potty? Just because you don’t want snowy boots tromping thru the living room on the way to “I have to go NOW”.  Well, its still a thought.

Winter is a time for family board games (Candyland, anyone?), card games (teaching the kids Cribbage) along with some good old Pass the Pigs.  But that only lasts so long before they are boooooooorrrrred and need something more fun to do.  I do unfortunately use the electronic babysitter more than I would like in the Winter but sometimes SpongeBob can offer 30 min of sanity.   Winter is also a time of Resolutions – a time to lose weight, save more money and by-all-means Get Organized! We have the time to tackle all those organization projects that never seem to get done in the summer because in the winter its too damn cold out to spend much time “having snowy fun”.  Long gone are hours at the pool or park.  Enter the fact that sometimes it takes more time to find the mittens and lace the winter boots then the amount of time actually spent outside playing.

Winter Organization includes: Filing bills, framing school pictures, seeing what has collected behind the dryer and paroosing cookbooks to make weekly healthy menus so that weight loss goal might also be in sight.   But if you have kids of any age you know that they have an inherent way of thwarting organization in any way shape or form.  They don’t even realize they are being counter productive to your attempt to let your OCD run wild by making binders to track the heating bills, putting the DVD’s in alphabetical order or organizing spices by World Region.  But they are.

Even separating markers from crayons is impossible (and tossing all the markers sans caps that are dry and useless).  Because the second they see you with your fresh fun plastic tubs and label maker (CRAYONS / MARKERS) they want to color.  They need to color.  There is nothing more fun in their little lives than coloring.  So you sit with them, still attempt the separation of felt vs wax and explain:  “lets keep the markers in a different tub from the crayons so we know where everything is and we can keep it nice”.  Then you walk out of the room to get more coffee or pee.  When you return not only are the crayons/markers stuffed into a big Ziplock bag (we couldn’t FIND the plastic tubs and we were BORED with coloring) but the floor is a kaleidoscope of art products. 

So you take a big, hot swig of coffee as to occupy your mouth from saying/screaming profanity while taking time to feel the slight burn of the caffeinated goodness that dissipates your increasing need to bang your head on the nearest wall.  This is when “go outside” is the go-to catch phrase but first you have to check the temps and the wind chill to see if its suitable.  Chances are you are out of luck because the home weather station has a cloud frowny face saying “dangerous frostbite warning cold – you would like to see them graduate from high school with 10 fingers and 10 toes”.   Dammit.  So you dump the Ziplock bag of newly discarded art funness,  find the labeled plastic tubs (they were on the table the whole time) and begin the task at hand while you hope and pray SpongeBob is teaching a moral lesson that day.

Surviving winter means surviving the closeness of an entire family confined to one space.  And somehow that spaced gets smaller on a daily basis.  Even by banishing kids to certain floors of the house for awhile so when they reunite its more of “I missed your face” vs “get out of my face” doesn’t seem to work.  They still have the ability to shout/hurl insults between floors w/ out actually being within visual sight of one another.  Every attempt at directing activies is met with distain:  I hate playing “Sorry” – he always targets my pieces and I never EVER win.  I don’t want to bake cookies, it takes too long and I don’t even like snickerdoodles (that statement, in itself, is blasphemy because there is nothing more delectable and pure than a fresh baked snickerdoodle).  It seems like every organized indoor activity slowly degrades to the lowest common denomonator of games:  throwing balls at each other heads in the basement. 

No matter how the kids are seperated (why don’t you two go play air hockey now while I have the other two sort Legos from Tinkertoys!) somehow they all migrate to the basement for a full round of indoor dodgeball.  Where the laughter is soon replaced with tears from someone really taking a soccer ball upside the head a little too hard.denom This is where you take another hot swig of coffee to quench the profanity and you once again check the home weather station for a glimpse of the possible Go Outside go-to.  Nope, the gray cloud is saying its 35F and with freezing rain which not only means you have to de-ice the drive in the morning but going outside is an impossiblity.  So you suggest a reading contest:  lets see who can be the most quiet and read the most pages in 30 minutes!  And you get the blank stare of “are you serious” while THEY go check the home weather station to see if they can go outside.  However, the ever present discussion you have had of the difference between rain and snow is 32F has long since exited their brains so WHY CAN’T WE GO OUTSIDE.

This is where winter chores come in handy.  The ever present basket of socks to sort looms over their heads like a destiny of misfortune.  You take yet another swig of coffee and start to mumble “find something to do or I will find you something to do” while holding the Laundry Basket of Doom.   And they scatter like roaches when the light is turned on.  For awhile you have some peace and quiet until you notice the basement door is ajar and you hear the slight bouncing of balls while one is warming up waiting for the other sneek downstairs. In your ever existing gray clouds overhead coffee haze you attempt to tackle another winter organization project: this time it making sure all the games have the proper game pieces. 

You have them scour their rooms carrying old Jewel bags looking for each and every battleship, red/white peg, UNO card and Monopoly property because your mantra of “the game is only fun and useful if you have all the pieces” has fallen on dodgeball injured deaf ears.  What they come back with is a myaid of things that you don’t even want to acknowledge festered in their rooms for God-Knows-How-Long.   And that leads you to yet another cleaning/organization winter project that may or may not require the use of Haz-Mat suits.   This is when you check the home weather station only to see a normal temp of NEGATIVE 5 not even taking the wind chill into account.

And you once again hope and pray SpongeBob is teaching a moral lesson that day.  Then you reslove yourself to a Spring Cleaning organizational spree and go take a nap!  Happy Winter!

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