Winter Survival Guide

The first traces of winter arrived this week. I cried. Winter with it’s cold, snow blowing winds, ice, car scrapping, and shovelling, is not my season. I would much prefer to freeze time mid-autumn at the precise moment when the leaves have changed to brilliant shades of fire but have not yet fallen to the ground. I would live quite comfortably if every day was that first cozy sweater, latte walk of fall. Every year when that perfect autumn day arrives I make a secret wish for it to last forever.

My wish was denied again, and here I am, in a state of resignation. Winter coats are hung in the front hall closet; each pocket is stuffed with a magic pair of micro gloves, destined to disappear. By March I will be sending my son out the door in one cancer awareness mitten and one of Dad’s snowmobile gloves. Thankfully most people won’t get past his running shoes to judge his hand coverage. Each October I think to myself  ‘buy two pairs of boots, that way when there is a gaping hole in the bottom of lefty on January 4th and the stores are back to flogging flip-flops and beach hats, you’ll have a backup.’ I never listen and my kids always opt for ‘non-insulated’ rather than bread-bags in their boots. No wonder they get sick.

Okay, maybe getting sick has less to do with the temperature and cold feet and more to do with bottling them up inside where the air is unexchanged and teaming with germs. By November 30 our classrooms become ginormous living breathing petri dishes of viral, bacterial and completely unidentifiable germs.  Our kids inhale them, pass them around, wipe them on each other, little kids eat many of those germs. (Just a friendly note to teachers here: I would love if you would disassemble the student group desk arrangement where Jimmy coughs directly in the face of my child in favour of the traditional row seating where his germs land on my child’s back.) Whatever germs they get, however they collect them, there is one certainty…they are bringing them home.

We’ve had our first battle of the bug already this year for the 2012-2013 cold and flu season. It was nasty. If I ever had to do this parenting thing again I would skip lessons in sharing. It was two full weeks of exhaustion, stuffy noses, burning lungs, aching ears and vomiting. At one point I seriously considered replacing the air freshener canister in my automatic dispenser with Lysol disinfectant spray and aiming it at the door to neutralize anyone entering our home.

In light of the inevitable chilly, illness and outdoor smelliness (what is that ‘I’ve been playing outside’ smell? Gross!) I’ve updated my winter survival list.

In the Kitchen: Gingerale, Saltines, Mint tea, Ginger tea, Chicken Soup, Orange Juice, Red wine (maybe this last one should go under medicine cabinet)


In the Medicine Cabinet: Vapour Rub, Something for coughs, something for Fever, Something for Congestion, Something to knock Dad out when he gets sick so Mom can survive his whining (Gravol – Check)


Always close at hand: Tissues, heating pad, whoopee bucket (This was my Gran’s word, we just call it the ‘bucket’ – everybody knows what we mean) extra blankets, new toothbrushes.


In the Backpack/purse/glove-box:  Extra extra mittens, socks, tissues, chapstick

I also have a few tips to reinstate from my Home Daycare days (now there is an open invitation to illness)

  • Replace the Hand towels with paper towels in the busy bathroom (the one everybody including guests use)
  • Use the ‘stuff-it’ rule even at home but especially at school – remind kids to stuff their hats & mitts into their coat sleeves. Wash hats weekly too. They go over looked but this is also head lice season. (Personally I would rather have everybody down with a 96 hour stomach bug)
  • Spread the word NOT the germs. Tell people you are ill, the kids are ill or under the weather. Cancel play dates, sleepovers and birthday party attendance. Stay home!
  • Disinfectant wipes are your best friend! Every night start at the front door and wipe everything your hands touch; door knobs, light switches, taps, phones, fridge handles, flushers and drawer knobs. Five minutes that will save your sanity, I promise!

As I head out to prepare my house and family for the impending angst of winter, I bid you good luck against the loss of apparel the acquisition of illness and the battle to beat the cabin fever. I will be picking up some extra cocoa, some old-fashioned popping corn and a couple of great new family board games to surprise everybody with and turn moods around when it all get to be too much. Secretly I hope they also delay my inevitable participation in outdoor winter activities.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

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