I like the principles of being a parent from November to March. The ideal image of winter parenting goes something along these lines…
We take long family walks through forests, playfully kicking piles of leaves while the kids throw them up in the air and let them rain down on them while I insta-snap away! We sit in the window watching the autumn rain fall and sip hot chocolate before snuggling on the sofa and sharing a good book or two! Christmas comes and we lovingly prepare our own handmade gift tags with potato prints and gingham ribbon. Decorating the tree is a significant family moment where we all get together with festive music playing in the background and perfect sharing out and placement of baubles at symmetrical intervals! Winter is firmly upon us and we long for snow: as if by magic we awake one morning to find the world has been transformed into a white haven of beauty, cold and crisp and even! We all put on our identical snow suits and head out to build a family of snowmen and make snow angels and playfully chuck snowballs around.
The reality however…
We go on the family walks but they are punctuated by moans of being too cold or someone accidentally putting their hand in dog poo hidden below a soggy pile of leaves! Or it chucks it down and we return home looking like a family of drowned rats! We make hot chocolate but no one actually drinks it because it’s too hot or too chocolatey or presented in the wrong coloured cup! The tree decorating is always a disaster as we get all the stuff out and Jon takes 4 hours to put the tree in the holder and put the lights on while the kids hover hyperactively in the background desperate to hang baubles! By the time they get chance to actually put on the ornaments, they’ve lost all interest and have taken to strangling each other with the tinsel! The thought of playing in snow always far outweigh the reality… we spend approximately 12 hours getting wrapped up warm enough to go out, only for them to lose all interest within the first 4 minutes and come back in again draping soggy clothes all over the house! Someone inevitably get painful ‘finger freeze’ and someone else will manage to hit a sibling in the eye with a snowball and the whole thing will have me longing for a sun bed and a trip to warmer climates!
It’s not that I love my children any less in the winter! I just love the freedom that spring and summer bring. Being able to leave the house without having to layer reluctant children into coats and scarves and gloves! Being able to throw open the patio doors and double the amount of space we have to play in! Opening up a whole world of things to do that are not an option in the winter like paddling pools and scooters and digging in the garden (I know I could technically do the latter two in the winter but I’m not really outdoorsy unless the sun is shining!) Having a whole new range of day trips open to us that involve fresh air rather than being trapped in soft play hell! Less washing because no one wears vests!
I love this time of year when we get an unseasonal blast of warmth; full of the promise of what’s to come! Eating our dinner in the garden and emptying the playhouse outside for its spring clean and buying new plants for the garden. Getting rid of the layer of slime on the decking and putting up the football net and getting out the garden table and chairs! Replacing mashed potatoes for buttered new ones and daring to dream that the British weather might this year be kind to us!
Our kids love being outside and generally cope better with the world when they get chance to play out. There are less arguments- being cooped up indoors seems to intensify every little squabble. They tend to find things to do together instead of battling for my attention. They sleep better from all the fresh air and vitamin D they are assaulted with! They would happily go out at 7 am and be reluctantly dragged back in at 7pm; covered from head to toe in grey-brown mud and grime (or as my friend described it- the colour of fun!) Ted has been a nightmare at bath time for the last 3 nights as I had to pluck him from the garden, his absolute favourite place. He wakes up now and immediately pressed his face up against the patio window while pointing and grunting in the general direction of ‘out’!!! We live on a Cul-de-sac of 12 houses with 20 children under the age of 10 between us- there is always someone to play with and they spend most of the summer ‘garden hopping’ from one house to another (occasionally while the mummy’s sit and drink Prosecco!!)
Like lots of people, I like the Autumn/Winter season in the run up to Christmas but the post festivity- end of March spell is one I’d happily do without! I always feel like once Christmas is over and done with, winter is just out staying its welcome! ‘I’m done with you now snow and ice, let’s pack you back in the loft with the illuminated lawn reindeer and get you back out again next year!’ I wouldn’t say that winter depresses me but I definitely feel a lift of spirits at this time of year; A burst of energy from the light and air and sun and colour that suddenly appears. Being a mummy just feels easier in the summer. I feel more relaxed, it seems less like hard work and we all just seem to be happier. The fog of unused energy that seems to hover over us in the winter just gets burnt up and dissipates once the sun comes out! I love having tired, mucky children to put in the bath at the end of the day with their little t-shirt tans that replace the winter pasty-albino look!
More space, more air, more sun, more fun! What’s not to love about being a fine weather parent?!