The (Affordable) Parents’ 2021 Winter Survival Kit

By Emma Grace Brown, guest writer

No matter what, winter is always a challenging time for parents. It’s cold out, there’s not a ton to do, and kids and parents alike start to get pretty stir crazy. However, this year promises to be an even tougher time for many. Lots of families aren’t going to be comfortable with the sort of indoor activities and gatherings that have been winter-weather go-tos in previous years. 

We want to help you come up with ways to make this winter fun, despite the difficulties. To that end, we’ve come up with this 2020 Winter Survival Kit. We know money is tight for many families right now, so we’ve gone out of our way to make sure the list includes tips to keep these items budget-friendly. We hope it inspires you to have a safe, healthy, enjoyable winter: 

Outdoor Gear 

If you plan to meet up with people this winter, odds are it’s going to be outdoors. Since indoor gatherings are far higher risk than the alternative, it only makes sense to get out in the fresh air to see the people we love. If you want to meet outside in winter, however, you need good, comfortable, and most importantly, warm gear so it’s actually pleasant to be outside. 

Start with warm winter coats for the whole family. Grown-ups might be able to keep using their coat from last year, but kids tend to grow out of seasonal items before the next cold snap comes around. Outlet malls and shops like Nordstrom Rack are great options when buying for kids. You’ll get high-quality items without the sticker shock. Consider donating the coats your kids have grown out of to a local coat drive to help kids in need stay warm. 

Virtual Activities 

Using virtual means of connection, such as Zoom calls or video games, allow your family to stay in touch with non-household loved ones without risking catching or spreading COVID-19. If you don’t have a video game console, however, it’s easy to feel left out of the virtual fun. The good news is, there are tons of ways to play games with people virtually, no console required. 

There are plenty of online board games that only need a laptop, phone, or tablet for players to join. You can also check out hidden identity games such as Spyfall. Since this kind of game is based more on conversation and interaction than pieces or movement, it naturally lends itself to the video chat experience. Even party games like charades work surprisingly well over video chat! Stay creative and keep an open mind, and you’ll find tons of fun ways to connect online. 

Creative Play 

Finally, we recommend picking up art supplies and embracing creative play over the coming months. Studies have shown that, while the pandemic has made creativity harder, it’s also made it far more important. Art and other creative tasks go a long way toward working out the stress and anxiety the pandemic causes. Moreover, arts are notoriously underfunded in schools, so it might introduce your child to a passion they might not have discovered otherwise. 

A great way to find affordable art supplies is to look for a local second-hand craft shop. These are becoming more and more popular as people become more focused on reducing waste. If you can’t find one near you, you can also check out sales and coupons for local art and office supply stores. 

This winter, focus on finding low-cost ways to keep the whole family connected and entertained. Go gentle on yourself if the stress starts to wear on you, and give yourself space to mourn the winter you might have had. It’s always a challenge to be stuck inside, but creative thought (and lots of self-compassion) can make it easier. 

See more home and parenting hacks at Lumber in My Minivan.

Photo Credit: Pexels

How to beat the boredom during the covid-19 self quarantines

As you know, I am predominantly a DIY blogger but one portion of my blog pertains to parenting. Like many of you, we are navigating our new normal as homeschool parents who work from home and self quarantine to safe guard our families against getting sick with covid-19.

Being quarantined doesn’t mean you must stay indoors.

While we have mine and the girls’ school work to occupy a lot of time, and we can go outside to occupy a bit more time, sometimes we still find ourselves a little bored and lonely. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun and useful ways to bond as a family , and to teach your kiddos a little something in the process.

1. Cooking

Get yourself some cute kitchen helpers.

Everyone needs to eat, and once you’re tired of all the takeout options, you might as well cook at home. I’m kidding, sort of. In all seriousness, cooking is hands on, a cross curricular activity and something your kids will need to know as adults. You don’t have to make a full meal, you could even make something as simple as a tray of cookies. My child hates math but she loves cooking. She doesn’t realize we are practicing math skills when we cook. She just thinks it’s grown up to help mom with dinner.

2. Take a nature walk

Nature’s playground

Recess at school serves the same purpose as recess when you’re schooling at home. Fresh air and activity give the brain a refresh. You can make a science lesson out of it and go on a nature walk. You can go on a nature scavenger hunt and find rocks, acorns or flowers. Or, you can go outside and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

3. Roast some marshmallows

This one requires lots and lots of supervision. Reward your kiddos for their hard work by allowing them to make a few s’mores. Even if you only make one s’more, they will love it!

4. Paint a picture or make a craft

Make a cute little footbird

We made a bird painting from a little paint and our kids’ feet and they turned out so cute. You can also just hand your kiddos some paper and colored pencils and let them take the reigns- creativity at its finest!

What sort of “sanity saving learning activities are you all using?

Clean routines and parenting: keeping a weekly cleaning schedule

Trying to keep a tidy house is hard when you have small children. It’s even harder when you’re at home all the time with those small children, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have always had a weekly cleaning schedule that worked pretty well for us, but now I’m making it a point to incorporate a little extra deep cleaning, in honor of the current pandemic.

Our weekly cleaning schedule is laminated, framed, and hanging in our laundry room.

This definitely doesn’t mean that we are perfect. Not even close. Even though this schedule is hanging on our wall in a frame, there are days when our stuff doesn’t get done and when we let messes linger for too long. And while the Friday chores are typically deep cleaning tasks, I’d gotten a little creative in how we deep clean these days.

Typically we spend two weekends a month deep cleaning. While we are at home self quarantining, we are choosing to vigilantly follow a deep cleaning schedule. We are following our daily task schedule, but we are mopping and cleaning bathrooms twice a week. We are also making it a point to remove shoes at the door and do a deep cleaning task every weekend instead of every other weekend. The kids and I are trying to work together to make the chore of the day happen.

We are also currently homeschooling and I’m teaching from home too. We are struggling to find the balance but we are OK. We are getting there and we are making it work.

And while we are on the subject of house cleaning to combat the germs, have you considered incorporating a little self care into your day? Staying home is not easy for some of us, and as a result, your mental state can suffer. Remember to do something that lifts you up each day- it could be something as simple as taking a walk or Facetime calling people you miss, to gardening, to reading a book, or taking a hot bath. Either way- don’t neglect YOU!

We will see you soon with our spring home tour! Until then, stay safe and stay healthy. Thanks for reading!