by Meghan Fitzgerald
At the start of a particularly gray day last week, I floated up a simple prompt to our Outdoors All 4 FB community: What one word or phrase best describes how you feel about winter?
The responses rolled in, and they fell on both sides of the winter love fence, from “Joy!”s to “Done!”s. I smiled right along with people who love the quiet and the beauty. I was 100% with friends who loved all that snow some of us got to play in (extra thumbs up for those amazing homemade hot tubs, too!). I nodded “right there with you” to others who are tired of the cold and long for warmer outdoor visits and more daylight. And, I ached for friends who’ve struggled with burst pipes and struggles that came with a polar vortex. What a season.
This amazing community helped me remember that we can both love winter and be so over it at the same time. Isn’t that what all the seasons of life are about—holding space for what is wonderful and tough about everything? Nothing could be more true about the last year of pandemic—a wild mix of silver linings and hardest of hard things.
How can we help kids (and ourselves) get really good at holding space for the good and the bad? Here are some ideas for winter lovers and spring enthusiasts alike.
If you peruse the Facebook post, one other thing will pop right out at you: The photos of kids are all the same—pretty joyful. Sure, we’re less likely to share photos of bummed-out kids, but also, smaller humans just focus on what’s joyful better than we do.
Kids see the magic because they look for it.—Christopher Moore
We can reinforce our kids’ ability to see the silver linings, even if we’re over winter. Involve kids in making a simple “Thank you, Winter” list. On a walk, at dinner, before bed time or whenever you can, ask kids, “What do you love about winter?” In our house, we put a gratitude spin on it, asking ourselves and the kids to think about what they feel thankful for about winter. Write down all of the ideas. Welcome kids to draw or write their ideas, too.
You can also carve out some time to grab your phone, make tea and cozy up with kids for a walk back through your photos from winter 2021. As you scroll through your winter experiences, get kids talking about what they remember. Talk about what you learned and loved about the season. For such a documented generation, we tend to focus on “what next” and rarely take the time to go back and savor what has happened.
Looking back at photos not only helps kids learn to slow down and reflect (who couldn’t use more of that?!); it also helps kids build vocabulary, learn to make connections between experiences and reinforce what you value (e.g. time outside, time with friends and family, play, etc.).
Only 1 in 10 Americans name winter as their favorite, according to a 2013 CBS News poll, so if you’re not into it, you’re not alone. If winter really gets you down, it’s hard to feel genuinely thankful for it—and trying to pretend otherwise pretty much always gets us nowhere.
If that’s you, find a little “you time” to do some letting go. At the end of 2020—the year to end all years—we shared some easy, nature-based ways to release hard thoughts and feelings and create space for something new. Try using fire, water or wind to help you let go of winter and make space for spring!
Change is life, and the better we get at embracing it, the more joyful—and less disruptive—life becomes. Many of us are ready to move on. And, thanks to nature, we get that chance every few months!
There is nothing permanent except change.” —Heraclitus
In our free March calendar, there are ways to play and celebrate March—both the wintery and the springy parts. You’ll find a beautiful coloring sheet with a unique sprout for each day of the month so kids can keep track of their outdoor play time.
To look ahead, make a list of hopes for the spring. In our house, we fill a large jar with wishes. A few weeks before a new season, we’ll empty out the old wishes and add new ideas. What are you looking forward to? What do you hope to see, smell, hear, feel and taste? Where will you go? Make a list of wishes for spring and put them in your jar, in a notebook or on a chart.
At the end of the season, see how many wishes came true.
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