Tips to help fight winter "meh"

Dear Jackie,

I’m so sick of this cold weather. How can I get motivated to work out and do things with my kids when spring seems so far away?

-C., Rhode Island

You are not alone. It has been a very long winter. There are days when the cold weather makes me feel unmotivated, moody, and exhausted. When my "meh" mood trickles down to my kids and husband, it’s not fun for anyone. Thankfully, winter doesn’t last forever. And to help you get through the next few weeks without feeling so "blah', I have a few simple tricks that have worked wonders for me. The best part is they don’t require anything expensive or excessive.

Simple tips to help fight the winter blahs:

1)      Get moving. Exercise. Think mind over matter. Even if it’s too cold outside or your kids are too young to take to the gym, don’t make any excuses. Use your imagination. Pull out your yoga mat. Blast your favorite Pandora station and start stretching. Walk or jog in place for 10 minutes. Start planking. Have your kids join you. Just 15 or 20 minutes a day makes a huge difference and can lift your mood. You can find some excellent fitness and nutrition tips from my Rhody Blogger friends Tera Norberg at http://www.girlgonehealthy.com or Jen Senecal, another fitness and nutrition extraordinaire who blogs with her friend Kelly at http://www.theFwordblog.com.

2)      Slip out for a sweat. Escape for a jog or go to the gym when your spouse (or a friend or relative) can watch your kids. Even a quick 30 minute workout can make a tremendous difference.

3)      Unplug. Turn off your iPhone. I know it sounds crazy, but not being online, even for a few hours, can help you get back on track. I often do this just to re-focus and re-prioritize. It forces you to focus on and enjoy what’s in front of you with no distractions.

4)      Buy by yourself. If you can, go to the store by yourself. Buy a magazine, a new “springy” lipstick, a fresh nail polish color, anything small, for YOU. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Even something small (but colorful) can do wonders to lift my mood.

5)      Take a wagon walk. If your kids are driving you crazy, zip up those snowsuits and take them for a short walk around the block. Load up their play wagon with lots of blankets and take an adventure walk. If you only make it outside for 10 or 15 minutes, it’s worth it to get a dose of fresh air.

6)      Play dinner time. Have your kids pretend to work in a restaurant and serve you. Pull out the aprons, Monopoly money, toy cash register and plastic plates. Use simple ingredients like cut fruit, nuts, crackers and bread and let their imaginations run wild. (Keep it simple so there’s less mess!)

7)      Tea time. Host a tea party with your kids and invite their stuffed animals. Slip on a party dress and heels and join in the fun. If you have boys, turn it into a hot chocolate and hot wheels party. Invite a friend over. All you need is a “picnic” blanket, a few play cups, and a pitcher. When I hosted “tea time” with my kids, my favorite part was seeing which stuffed animals they chose to invite.

8)      Cold snap. Take your kids out for frozen yogurt, Gelato or ice cream. It may sound crazy because it’s cold outside, but doing something like this helps bring back memories of warmer days and can lift everyone’s spirits.

9)     Blossom. Buy some fresh, colorful flowers and place them somewhere in your house to remind you that spring will be here soon. 

10)   Rock out. Play YOUR music in the car when your kids aren’t in the car. Turning off the news or Kidz Bop for even 15 minutes can make you smile.

11)   Calgon, take me away. After the kids go to sleep, run a hot bath. Put on a face mask (Oatmeal and plain yogurt does the trick for me). Make a “spa time” for yourself. It helps open your pores and your mind.

12)  Get out.  Get a sitter and plan a night out with your husband or a friend. Go to the movies, dinner or go see a play. Taking a night off from your regular routine gives your mood a much needed boost.

Jackie Hennessey is a RI mom who blogs about her take on motherhood at http://www.ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her award-winning gift book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker. http://www.ventingsessions.com/book