We are still in the thick of COVID-19, with cases rising in number daily, and winter is fast approaching. As a lifelong New Englander who has just relocated from Boston to Vermont — as well as a mom of two pre-teen boys — I am pretty much daily asking anyone who will listen for any advice on how to survive winter in the midst of COVID-19?
Based on those conversations, below are my five tips on how to combat gloom during the upcoming coronavirus winter:
1. Make an outdoor plan and gear up.
While the temperatures are going to continue dropping as we officially approach winter time, getting outside will still be an important part of maintaining sanity across the family. I’ve made a list of all the fun things to do this winter outdoors (hiking, snow shoeing, sledding, skiing) depending on if there is snow on the ground or not. Of course, here in New England, it gets dark very early in the day, so you’ll need to plan on what hours make the most sense to maximize your time outdoors. It really is so important to step away from our screens, get outside, and clear our minds while getting physical exercise.
I know my boys will need to remain active and am stocking up on the necessary equipment (multiple warm layers, waterproof shells, wool socks, the correct snow boots, ski equipment, snow shoes etc) to make sure they can do so. I advise that you get a jump on this now. Snowshoes and cross country skis will likely face supply chain issues like the kettlebell back in the spring.
2. Decide on your indoor calculated risks.
We know that there is a higher risk of contracting COVID in enclosed spaces with other individuals who may not be wearing protective equipment, however, there are still ways to enjoy fun indoor activities. I think it is simply a matter of making an executive decision about what risks are worth it to you depending on the activity and your family values. This winter, our family will be going to the local indoor pool — which you can rent for an hour — to clear our heads when outdoor activity isn’t an option. We’ve also prioritized indoor soccer for the boys, should the season happen. What are we saying no to? As much as I am dying for a weekly date night, we are going to remain super careful about indoor dining given how many tourists are coming in and out of the area without clear visibility into whether people are following the rules.
3. Create a family binge watch schedule.
There’s no escaping the fact that while we spend more time inside during this coronavirus winter, we will gravitate towards using technology. One way that our family plans to do this as a way to spend more time together, rather than apart, is to create a family schedule of shows to binge watch on Netflix or other platforms. Each family member will get to pick one show that we can work through a few nights a week after dinner and on weekends.
4. Come up with a home improvement project plan.
As most everyone knows since quarantine began, home improvement projects are a great way to invest in your space while keeping busy. Pick out some areas around the house you want to spruce up – or have always talked about improving— and get the necessary equipment to dedicate time and attention to them. Maybe you only do a little bit every weekend, but the most important thing is to not bite off more than you can chew. Take the projects slowly, since winter is long and we definitely have some time before COVID goes away.
5. Cook as a family.
During quarantine, it can be harder and harder to find motivation to cook dinner when you’ve already had to deal with lunch for the family— and the days feel long and draining. One recent idea from a friend that I am going to try out is “Kids Cook Tuesdays” (or insert any night of the week), where the kids pick a recipe weekly and do the cooking. We’re thinking of making it a weekly competition of “Kids Cook Tuesdays” versus “Grownups Cook Thursdays”, with a weekly prize TBD. According to my friend, their kids' cooking experiment has created a lot of laughs and mess, as well as some good new meals. As a bonus, her kids are much more comfortable and confident in the kitchen now.
No matter where in the world you are, COVID-19 has been a difficult challenge for all of us. As winter approaches, I hope you find some activities during COVID that will not only keep you sane, but also allow you to spend quality time with your loved ones in a practical way. And remember: we’re all doing our best.