Can We Just Skip February? 5 Tips For Surviving Until Spring

February is always a challenging month for me. And it’s not because of the reason you might expect: Valentine’s Day. I think Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday and doesn’t cause me too much stress. I know some families do big things for Valentine’s Day, but we don’t. It’s low-key over here. We exchange books and that’s about it. We just enjoy it, and enjoy being with each other. 

But February? You can go ahead and get lost. 

I find this month to be challenging because it’s cold, dark, and usually involves being stuck inside. It might be the shortest month, but it feels long. February is just weeks of waiting until we start to see signs of spring in March. It’s my least favorite time of the year. It’s like the coldest and darkest hour of the night, right before dawn.

Can We Just Skip February? 5 Tips For Surviving Until Spring

This February is particularly challenging because I transitioned from working full time to becoming a stay-at-home mom in November. I feel like I’ve been stuck inside for months, and with the pandemic, there are not many options for getting out and about. And while I know kids can go outside even when it’s cold, it’s just a whole production to do so with a 27-month-old and a 10-month-old. I have a mild disability, which makes it more challenging to move around outside in the winter. With the snow and bitter cold, it’s nearly impossible for any of us to have much fun. And so, I feel stuck inside, staring out at mountains of snow, impatiently waiting for spring while February drags on.

Tell me I’m not alone, moms!

Who else is dreaming of going to the park without 27 layers of clothing, or going for a walk without worrying about falling? I can’t be the only one.

Regardless of what the groundhog says, I know there are still several more weeks until my cold-hating self will be spending much time outdoors. And with the pandemic, spending time with other people indoors isn’t ideal.

So how am I surviving this dark, cold month?

  1. I’m bringing a bit of the outdoors inside. We realized our toddler needed a physical outlet that her normal toys and activities weren’t achieving. We brought her small slide indoors, found a mini trampoline, and have gotten out all the pushing/riding toys we have that can be used safely indoors. Our house isn’t overly large, but it’s worth sacrificing the space for her to burn off some energy.
  2. I’m planning lots of sensory activities. While my 10-month-old takes his morning nap, my toddler and I are able to have some fun sensory activity time. I’ve decided giant messes are worth the effort, because it lets her brain engage in something different and keeps her busy during a time of the day when we need some calmer play. I also keep her bean bin (a container filled with diggers and beans), play-doh, and her pom box (a container filled with pompoms, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, and other sensory knick-knacks) handy at all times, so she can choose to play with those anytime.
  3. I’m relying heavily on the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Even though we have a ton of books at home, I schedule a curbside pickup for several books each week. This keeps a rotation of new reading materials, which keeps the kiddos interested and my husband and I sane. 
  4. I’m excusing myself from “mom guilt”…or trying to do so. My house gets messy. My kids eat too many goldfish. My toddler will watch an extra episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. My dog isn’t getting walked enough…heck, I’m not getting walked enough. We aren’t spending 1,000 hours outside this year. And you know what? That’s okay. We are still building great memories and having fun.
  5. I remind myself that this isn’t a lifestyle: it’s a season. The tail end of winter is always challenging, and at some point, it becomes about surviving for those of us who can’t stand winter. It’s worth remembering that this is only a season. A long, cold, dark season. But a season that will end. 
How do you handle the dark days of February?

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Jen is a mom to two kids, Penelope (19 months) and Jethro (2 months). A graduate of Central College, Jen moved to South Africa with the Peace Corps after college, where she developed school and community gardens. Upon returning to the states, Jen moved back to her hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa, where she met her husband Darin. In 2019, their young family moved to Cedar Rapids, where she began work with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach as a Healthy Food Access Specialist. Despite working full time and wrangling two young kiddos, Jen still finds times for her favorite hobbies-cooking, gardening, reading, and napping.