Embracing Winter in Iowa Survival Tip 3
As a homeschooling mom in general you can start to feel isolated and alone when you spend your time educating your children at home. With little free time for yourself between schoolwork and kids activities you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to socialize and interact with many adults on a daily basis. These feelings can escalate during long cold winters when getting out and about can become a chore.
Below is Tip 3 to embracing winter in Iowa. Homeschool winter survival really is about self care. This includes YOUR BODY (Tip 1 and Tip 3) YOUR HOME (Tip 2) and YOUR MIND (Tip 3).
Get out of the House and Get Moving
I have found that February is one of the toughest months to homeschool. I am a bit bored with my curriculum. My son is a bit bored with our routine. Spring break and Easter seem so far in the future. It is often cold and sometimes too cold to go outside without the fear of frost bite.
So to stay off the February Homeschool Blah (I am coining this 😉 ) It might be fun to plan a “staycation“for your family. Take some time and map out a plan. Pick a local spot for each day of the week that you can explore or visit. See about scheduling a field-trip with another family. Set up a library tour. Visit a local historical house in town, art museums, or winter hiking trails.
Des Moines Iowa has some great free staycation destinations. In Des Moines you can find the Sculpture Park, The Historical Building, The Art Museum and tour the Capital all for free. If you are feeling adventurous you could stay at a hotel in Des Moines with a swimming pool and spend a day or two exploring the free educational activities. If you need to save a little money there is no shame in packing an ice cooler to accompany you to the hotel. Many hotels offer breakfast, you could bring lunch fixing and have pizza or tacos for dinner.
If you are going to stay a little closer to home try to pack in a bunch of outdoor time and take a little break. Another favorite of mine is to hit our favorite walking areas just before spring and take a few pictures and collect nature bits and pieces; and then head back and do the same once Spring has sprung. Once you’ve been there for more than one season take some time to compare the two collections. If you can it’s fun to do this for each season.
Maybe the children can write a poem or collect a nature jar. Once you head back after winter has turned into Spring have the children do the same activity inspired by the new season. Maybe you can have the children sit in the prairie and close their eyes for 5 minutes. Then have them write about what they heard in the ecological soundscape. Again go back in Spring and have them try it again. If the weather is warm enough pack a picnic and discuss the similarities and differences comparing the two experiences or writings.
Most of us know exercise is key to sanity. For me this holds truest during the cold Iowa winters. A quick google search will give amble evidence that physical activity releases Dopamine, Serotonin and Endorphins in your brain, three of the four chemicals “responsible for happiness”. But we don’t need Google searches to tell us; a quick walk in the morning is all we need as moms to know that we need a bit of regular physical activity and regular movement to help shed daily tensions and reduce stress.
Winters in Iowa can be harsh with -40 wind chill temperatures, ten minute frost bite warnings and lots of time indoors. If you can swing it try to get a little exercise in without the children. This will give you a moment to think, or really a break from thinking if you need it. When I am able to steal an uninterrupted 30 minutes several times a week I am able to breath easier. I am able to focus easier and give more of myself to those I love.
Some of us are able to enjoy a little time here and there while our children are occupied. I find that at that time I am still “on”. I am passively engaged with my son and my attention is fragmented between what I am doing and my son. Admittedly, even when those moments are available I am usually working on a task such as laundry, dishes or dinner preparation. Which may allow those tasks to be done quicker but does not allow my mind to rest.
If you are able try to get up early and go for a walk alone. The physical, emotional and psychological benefit of this time will make a world of difference to your winter and homeschool day. If not daily shoot for two or three times a week.
If you are unable to carve out time without the children, bring them along. Let them run ahead or ride their bikes. You might not be able to attain a full recharge but both you and your children will benefit from the time outside.
This article concludes my three part series of Surviving an Iowa winter. If you missed out on Tip 1 and Tip 2 you can find these linked in this article.
Happy Homeschooling ~ Bridget Anne