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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

Finding Joy in the Middle of the Winter Blues

Last year I wrote about February from a place of real fatigue. I was super sick with morning sickness while pregnant with my fourth child, my husband was traveling, all my kids were sick, and the sun was literally hidden away for a week while all of us Coloradans freaked out because we don't know how to live without it! I thought we were all going to die. I was a fun mom that month, NOT! My kids watched a lot of tv while I puked my brains out and laid down frequently. This year I've felt that fatigue of 'all things homeschool' and the colds/sickness start to creep in, but we have refused to get stuck in the winter blues again. It's hard to "look like love" when you feel down and depressed as a mama, so here are some things we've done differently this year to guard our home from the 'winter blues.'

Finding joy during the winter blues

Make Fun Family Plans

I recently shared that we went skiing as a family for the first time this month. This was intentionally planned for February! I remember telling my husband in early January, "I'm worried about us getting in that 'low pit' again with all the sickness and your crazy work hours." He reminded me that we have some fun things to look forward to this February to keep us looking up, and honestly, it has really helped! While the joy of the Lord is my strength, there is a certain happiness and hopeful spirit that awakens in me when I have something fun to look forward to. Do you feel the same way? Let me tell you, this truly helped! Our kids were so excited to go skiing it motivated them for several weeks beforehand in their daily responsibilities, and they had so much fun that they were jazzed for weeks afterwards! Now, I know that skiing isn't an option for everyone because of where you live and the overall cost of it. (Even though we found a homeschool discount that saved us tons!) However, everyone has something fun around them to do. I know you do!

  • Put together a fun scavenger hunt around town for your kids

  • Plan to hike somewhere new and bring painting supplies to paint the scenery around you

  • Have a fire pit night to burn last year's math books or other school papers that are just going to end up in the trash and have a flashlight dance party while it all burns

  • Have a movie night inside a tent INSIDE your house

  • Bring a crockpot for dinner to a snowy camp spot in the forest and hang out around a fire or explore somewhere new

  • My mom used to have "upside down" plate night (it's as simple as it sounds)

  • Picnic in the living room for dinner with candlelights

  • Play in the park at night with flashlights (my hubby and kids just did this tonight)

  • Make a blessings list on a poster board, then hang on the back of the front door so everyone can see and add to it daily

Some of these ideas are things we've done, and some ideas we are hoping to do some day! There's countless ways to have fun as a family without spending a dime--you just have to be a little bit creative. If you are looking for fun options as a family and are okay with spending a little cash, here are a few ideas:

  • Hit up the dollar store and put together 'blessing backpacks' to give to those in need that you see in town

  • Go swimming at your local rec or ask a hotel if you can just pay for their pool use

  • Grab hot cocoas from your local coffee shop and have a star gazing night

  • Go sledding at a ski resort or paid skiing hill

  • Give everyone a couple bucks to buy one thing from a thrift store that they could start a project with

  • Grab popcorn from your local movie theater and BRING IT HOME to watch a new movie as a family

  • Purchase white fabric, draw an animal on it (2 times), color it in, sew around it, then stuff it with the stuffing from an old stuffed animal (my kids loved doing this because they got to take a pocket knife to an old teddy bear so we could use his stuffing for a new animal, ha!)

Refresh routines to fight winter blues

Refresh Routines to Fight Winter Blues

Though I LOVE my job as a homeschool mom, by February, the holidays have settled, the routine feels worn, and I'm tempted to start shopping for next year's school curriculum. There's some brutal honesty for ya, yikes! Even though I know we do best on a routine, sometimes everyone just needs to snap out of that "groundhog day" feel! Can you do the same things in a different order, different place (like outside, at the library, in the car parked in the garage, truck bed, in cozy blankets in bed, etc?) Laundry, chores, and school still have to get done--but can you do laundry in the dark with flashlights and require costumes for dinner or during math? Jazz it up! You're the mom! Take a day off and play cause you can! Make a crazy school day fun with math and spelling games on windows, read-aloud books in forts, and dance parties while doing chores. Change the setting you do school. Go somewhere new inside or outside of your home--change the furniture layout; it doesn't have to be practical, just refresh things and have fun! Change the time you do it--maybe you school after dinner one day! Most of all, refresh YOUR attitude. You set the pace and emotional temperature of the home, so start with you, mama.

Spring clean to fight winter blues

Start Spring Cleaning Something!

While cleaning isn't everyone's favorite task, it can bring a refreshing atmosphere to your home. You may be surprised at how much more your kids want to hang out in their room once you've helped them detox it! My daughter is in love with the show called, The Home Edit. She's learned so much from the show, and has applied it to several drawers or closets in our home--so much so that we've had to have a talk about organizing your own space first, then asking permission to organize other's spaces. We have a modest sized home (for America) so we honestly have to purge often. Dumping the toy bins out on the floor helps us realize how much we're ready to give away, and also reignites my kid's joy over the things they DO have! For adults it's like cleaning out your wallet, junk drawer, or even clothes closet and realizing you have what you need and it's freeing to let things go! Just start with a box, under a bed, or one drawer. Don't wait until you have a whole free week to clean your home or it won't happen! That's perfectionistic procrastination for you! DO SOMETHING NOW! It will feel so good and you'll be glad you did it! Focus on one small goal of spring cleaning/organization and let that be enough for the day. Don't get discouraged when you look around at all the other spring cleaning projects that need done. Tell yourself that you've done enough today and force quit! This is hard for me, because once I start cleaning I'm like ready to clean every nook and cranny of our house and that means that I'm plowing away and my kids are on their own for the rest of the day, lol! Like all great goals--don't wait until you FEEL like doing what you know you should do, just DO IT! Just like everything else when you're struggling with the winter blues, you've gotta move forward once step at a time instead of waiting till you feel like doing so. Get moving. Breathe.


Joy isn't something you just happen to find. It's a fruit of the Spirit--so the best thing you can do when you're lacking joy is to connect with your Heavenly Father and ask for His joy to flow through you! This February was a different hard for me: kids really sick, hubby traveling, homeschooling, and caring for a newborn have made me really have to reach out for help, and let go of more than I'd like to. Lots of nights of dirty dishes left in the sink, high piles of laundry waiting for folding, bathrooms that are needing cleaned, kids all needing me in one way or another, and a mama praying she can rest once everyone's in bed. I've learned to ask for LOTS of help, first from God, then from others. I keep praise on my tongue frequently. I speak prayers out loud in front of my kids when I'm struggling so that they know their mama needs Jesus just like they do. I refuse to let my joy in the Lord be snuffed out! When I'm down, I praise. When I don't know what to do, I praise. He's given me strength for each moment! Did everything happen my way this month? No! Was I able to let go of more "stuff" and soak in joy--yes! This is the culmination of years and years of practicing setting my thoughts on good and pure things--not on my worries or frustrations-- and a constant petition to God for His joy to shine through me. I pray God's joy "stampedes over your heart" (a dear friend once prayed this for me) in a way you never thought it could. I pray you have strength to move forward to doing something new to fight away the winter blues. May God grant you great peace and joy in whatever season you're in, and may you keep praise on your tongue over all the ups and downs throughout each day!

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