By Shari McMinn
A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand. (Proverbs 27:15–16 ESV)
The above Scripture is just as relevant to us today as it was to families in Bible times. I know there were days in my marriage when I was a quarrelsome wife, and my kids would sadly follow my ungodly example. This was especially true when too many consecutive “inside” days from bad weather prevented us from going outside. It was frustrating for all of us, with my unique learners especially “acting out” more than usual. So, how can we deal with the wisdom of these scriptural truths during long winter months that are causing us all to be frustrated, stir-crazy, and no fun to be with each other in our homeschools?
Our farm in rural northeastern Colorado never got much rain, but we sometimes had very heavy snowfall in years when the Lord blessed our pastures with deep, white flakes from November through May. One winter, there was two feet of snow on the ground from mid-December to Valentine’s Day! Our driveway was impassable, so we had to hike up a half mile to the plowed road where we parked our vehicles to get to town just once a week for a grocery run after church. My teens carried their younger siblings on their backs, while my hubby and I hauled empty sleds uphill and later downhill laden with groceries.
During those snowed-in days, my patient and wise husband would instruct our kids twice daily to dress accordingly for going outside with him for livestock chores. During blizzards, we even had to tie a heavy rope as a safety hand hold between our yard fence and the feed storage barn! Caring for the critters was so arduous that no one wanted to play outside before or after. So, once feeding was complete, hubby corralled the kids into our large workshop, gave them each a hammer and nails, or assigned another loud, physical task to wear them down completely before returning to the house. This gave me some peace and quiet, so I, too, could calm down and stop dripping from “cabin fever.”
There is a lot to be said for recently popular books such as, 1000 Hours Outside: Prioritize Nature, Reclaim Childhood, and Experience a Fuller Life, and one I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed listening to, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids. What both books preach is that kids AND parents need lots of physical activity, especially outside, no matter the weather. Breathing fresh air, enjoying God’s nature, doing chores, caring for animals, or exercising recreationally calms our minds and enriches our often sedentary lives.
If we do not experience these attitude-adjusting times, we become frustrated and drippy! Here is a list to help you beat winter’s cabin fever syndrome whether inside or out, enjoying time together as you do. Be sure to express your enjoyment of the fun with shrieks of laughter! Parents, do these with your kids, because the more people joining in the group fun, the merrier it will be making memories to recall later.
Inside (take a break from bookwork as a surprise treat):
- Dance for exercise, changing up the music to a faster tempo — my favorite is Caribbean calypso!
- Dress up in costumes with face make-up and judge each other while parading around.
- Craft and hang these outside your windows to watch birds flock to bird seed treats.
- Play board games or cards while consuming special snacks such as homemade party mix.
- Listen to a read-aloud book together with popcorn and fancy drinks like hot apple cider.
Outside (dress for the weather and stay together for safety):
- Dance in the snow, purposefully sliding on the ice or jumping in melting mud puddles.
- Make snowmen/women, dressing them with family members’ clothing.
- Pull each other on sleds, running races over jumps made from a log covered in snow.
- All over your yard, create snow angels.
- Feed wildlife by decorating low hanging tree branches with popcorn and cranberry garlands.
- Shovel walkways and use the excess snow to build snow forts.
Need more ideas for things to enjoy during the long, cold winter? Check out these at-home learning activities that are so fun they don’t seem like schoolwork!
My next Unique Learner blog, “Expressing Love So Our Children Feel Loved” will post on February 28th (the 4th Wednesday).
P.S. If you have a topic I should write about, please email me with your suggestion(s). This blog is for you!
Shari McMinn, your trusted homeschooling friend