Get Through the Winter Doldrums When you Despise the Outdoors


Doldrums: a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression. Doesn’t this sound exactly like winter in the Twin Ports? I know I am a bit of a rarity in northern Minnesota/Wisconsin in that I don’t really like the outdoors. You won’t catch me snowshoeing or skiing, I might walk on a trail but I’m definitely not doing it in the winter cold by choice. If you see me in the woods in the winter, please assume I either have amnesia or I’ve been kidnapped and need help. 

Because of this, winter is really a struggle for me. Throw in my normal depression and anxiety, and winter becomes difficult every year. While this year isn’t so bad because I can stand outside for a few minutes to get my vitamin D fix and not freeze to death, it still brings its own struggles in the time of a pandemic. I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I know I run out of ideas on what to do with my kids but how to also get myself through this time.

Winter Care For Yourself

I really struggle with the whole “self-care” world because so often the lists of suggestions that qualify as “self-care” are like taking a bath, take more than a five-minute shower, eat clean foods, etc. Now listen, I fully agree that these things are amazing but also sometimes really difficult to make happen. I also believe these suggestions shouldn’t be touted as luxury activities. As moms we need to do better to make sure these are items of care that happen on the regular, not just as a treat.

When we started the whole pandemic situation, I was really worried I would lose my absolute mind with four kids at home. To be honest, I actually did, and I am grateful for telehealth therapy. I cannot rave enough about therapy, you guys. It’s been my lifeline.

I’m here for you, mama. Let’s talk about some things I’ve done to keep myself grounded:

  • Read all the books. If you’ve followed me on Instagram (@sarastrand9438), you’ll know I am a big reader. It’s always been one of my things I do to disconnect from mom/wife life and relax. The twist is, I’ve done a much better job at dedicating time to read as of lately. I’ve really tried to read things I normally wouldn’t pick and that has been fun. I’ve also purchased way too many books. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone.)

  • Do a craft. I’m normally a crafty gal, but I’ve lost all interest in everything for months. I started finding crafts that I could do with my kids or even by myself to help spark the creativity again. Do you know what is really relaxing? Making pom poms. I know you’re laughing, but I found a pom-pom maker, I watched a tutorial on YouTube and when I find my anxiety is really ramping up, I make pom poms. I don’t know, it’s weird, but it works. In other news, everyone is going to get a pom-pom garland for Christmas this year. Send your color requests now!
  • I don’t do really well with listening to things and processing what I am hearing, but you know what I am all the way into? The Crime Junkie podcast. I’ve listened to every episode, then I subscribed to the fan club and listened to all of those. I’m convinced I can solve a crime now, but I also learned that if you find something that looks like a mannequin? It’s never a mannequin.
  • I’m the last person who exercises for fun. I am really not meant to exercise. I did take up walking during the early days of the pandemic. All summer my husband and I went for a walk after dinner, just the two of us. Now, we’re lucky enough to have a teenager who can keep an eye on the other three for an hour, but if that isn’t your case- load the stroller. We used a tracking app like Map My Run, and we would try to beat our times night after night. We also talked. It made me realize how long it had been since we talked. We didn’t talk about jobs or kids, it was strictly about us and things we like. It is actually really challenging to talk about ourselves! Even now, we still chat when everyone is in bed.
  • Make lunch. My husband and I have been together for 19 years and I had never made his lunch! I was very much in the “he’s a grown up, he can make his lunch” camp. I make my children make their own lunch because being self-sufficient is helpful your whole life. My husband is our sole provider and he works a lot. He is a pretty great guy, too. One night, I just randomly made a whole lunch for him to take to work. Then I did it the next night. Fast forward a year later and making his lunch makes me feel – I kind of zone out life around me, I try making new recipes, and I love the feeling that I’ve done something nice for him. Bonus: he feels loved and appreciated. He also eats better because a bag of chips is not a meal.
  • Skin care routine. Hi, I’m 38 and I am realizing I have wrinkles. My neck is getting droopy, and the skin under my eyes is thinning. I decided to buy skin care products. Nothing crazy fancy, I’m letting Target tell me what I need, but I’m not buying generic. Oh no, I’m going to treat myself to name brand, baby. I don’t know what it says about me as a person that buying a name brand anything makes me feel bourgey. I love it.

Taking Care of the Kids

Do you know how hard it is to keep four kids, ranging in ages from 4 to 15, entertained? It’s not fun, it’s really hard, and it is exhausting. Here is what has been great for us:

  • Sensory bins. I have found a ton of sensory bin ideas on Pinterest and honestly, it’s fun for kids no matter the age. I’ve had beans, rice, and dry pasta to play in and I’ve caught my tween and teen running their hands through it during school break times. A huge hit? Water beads! I can tell you they do come out in case someone eats them… don’t ask. Even I really enjoyed manipulating them in my own hands. Kids will come and go to it all day so try to find things that you can leave out.
  • Family puzzle. I’m not a real puzzle person, but having one that we all put a few pieces into once in awhile has been kind of a fun thing.
  • Family book. I didn’t get to start it yet with my older kids but I found my old copy of The Crucible from high school and we’re going to read it and discuss. With my younger kids I’ve picked up books from the library or ones we haven’t read on our own shelves, read them together and do our own mini book club discussion. We had a lot of heated discussions over The Day the Crayons Quit and arguments over which crayon is the best.
  • I talked about things I’ve done, but kids can do crafts, too! I’ve found that diamond art has been really great for all ages. My younger girls are obsessed with Crafty Carol on YouTube and we’ve done some of her crafts.
  • Learn to cook. It’s time these kids learn how to cook! OK, the older ones at least. We found cookbooks geared towards teenagers and we’ve had some real wins! We’ve also had some real fails, like the brownies that were kind of gray, or the pudding that was like water.

Hang in There

Things are hard, some days are tougher than others, and you are exhausted. If you aren’t a real outdoorsy family, there are things you can do indoors to bust your boredom. Summer will be here again, and we can wave at each other on Brighton Beach from a distance.