Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winter Management


I read Louise Plummer's post this morning and was struck by the matter-of-fact way she talks about scheduling things to "get her through" January and February, like she just expects that it's going to be tough and depressing, and she plans for that just as she would plan for anything else.  This is a new concept to me.  I usually just feel like I shouldn't be depressed, and if I am it means I'm failing to appreciate my blessings like I ought to. 

However, this has made me think.  I did a lot of planning this year before Christmas (making lists of things I'd like to do together just as a family, so we wouldn't overschedule ourselves with stuff we don't really enjoy; planning time to make presents for people; etc.) and it is intriguing to think that perhaps I could plan out January and February in a way that might head off sadness/boredom/overwhelment(?!) before they have a chance to take hold.  I can see, looking at this past month, that I have unwittingly had things going on that have stacked the odds in my favor, and it HAS helped.  These are some things that have been getting me through so far:
  • fresh flowers (thank you Sam)
  • a fun/absorbing/creatively challenging project (of which more later, perhaps)
  • low expectations
  • Wednesday clean-up night
  • Friday cleaning days
  • shopping at Sunflower market (thus, being able to afford lots of fresh produce and interesting ingredients to experiment with when I cook)
  • fruit smoothies (we usually have these more often in the summer/fall, but have had a resurgence this month)
  • "I love you" banner I won from Beth last year---it looks so cheery 


We (I) instituted the midweek clean-up night a few months ago, after I found that our usual Friday cleaning days were harder now that I had Daisy (surprise!) and we needed to start with everything picked up if we were going to have time for polishing/scrubbing and the other finishing touches that make things actually feel really clean.  (Have you noticed that?  It's the last 20% that makes the biggest difference, but we were never GETTING to the last 20% because the other 80% took so long, so my house was always partly clean, which for me emotionally is kind of the same as not clean at all.)  So now on Wednesdays after dinner, the whole family moves together from room to room, picking everything up and putting everything away until the whole house is clean.  When we're all working on it simultaneously, you'd be amazed how fast it goes.  And it usually can't degenerate TOO far by Friday, when we do the rest of our cleaning and make everything shine.  And I can't tell you how much it does for my mood and outlook, to wake up to empty floors Thursday morning, and then to have the WHOLE HOUSE CLEAN AT ONCE on Friday evening, just in time to enjoy date night and the weekend. 

Anyway.  That's one thing that has helped me this month, but it's not winter-specific---but I like the idea of planning and scheduling winter-specific activities for the express purpose of getting you through January and February, and I want to try it.  For me, I think it will be things like flowers (as above), tickets to a play or the ballet, driving somewhere fairly close (like Price or Logan) and spending the day there, not-too-difficult art projects with the boys, homemade pizza nights, puzzle-and-cookie nights, getting some new music to listen to, etc.  And of course we still do our alphabet weekends when possible, which also helps me make it through these LONG, GREY, weeks.

Has anyone tried this---planning ahead to combat your January/February depression?  What do you do?  Has it worked?

3 comments:

  1. Wait, you SCRUB AND POLISH? No wonder your house looks beautiful every single time I'm there. I'm in awe, but also slightly bitter because I now know how high the bar is. At my house, if you can walk across the floor without stepping on a Goldfish, it's a win.

    Please continue to expand this "plan to beat the winter" idea. I have a touch of seasonal affective disorder and have just been DRAGGING this week. Perhaps some fresh flowers will do the trick . . .

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  2. But the process of cleaning sends me to the nadir. Yes, though - having everything neat and clean lifts the heart. I feel better about it when somebody else does it. But we have no money for that either.

    I have never deliberately planned my way through Jan and Feb - but I usually am doing things, like scanning the family past to make Blurb books, that keeps me occupied so that i don't notice what's not outside the windows - like light. And color.

    This year has been awful, though. We've been trying to decide how to add on to the house so we have room for returning family - decisions, which include snippiness, window debates, square footage haggling - and waiting. And waiting for M to come home. And waiting to find out about Cam's house (he's trying to buy one - and the realtor in charge of the sale is a certified idiot). And Chaz' life. And Gin's dental practice. And a dying, beloved dog. And alternate mud and ice at the barn - none of it picturesque and inspiring. And waiting on publishers, who are buying fewer and fewer manuscripts for a world that reads books less and less.

    I wish they had let me plan this out before hand. I would have done it differently. I'd have slept through the whole thing. But February - if I weren't superstitious, I'd admit that I have higher hopes for that.

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  3. I totally have seasonal blues in the winter, especially when I have an infant in the house. This year hasn't been bad at all because I have more freedom to do! with two kids in school and another in preschool. But next winter, for sure, I'll need to plan in stuff quite a bit. Being around peers helps me a lot and having things to look forward to, like dates and days off, etc.

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