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This winter seems to be dragging on like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Is it just me, or is this winter particularly long and cold, with some really nasty bugs going round? We’re all looking forward to half term, the start of spring and better weather. As a mum I often find myself scratching my head over ways to fill the days right now, and I wondered if other mums are too. What can we do right now to make the days seem less dark?

 

Take pleasure in the small moments

black and white photo of a toddler girl playing with a cup - photographer derbyshire

They say “the days are long but the years are short”, so make them count. Life with kids is all about the small moments. Whether it’s sitting on the kitchen floor sharing a punnet of blueberries with my kids, or helping my boy learn how to read, I try so hard to be present in these moments. Being a mum means simultaneously living like a blue arsed fly, and feeling the days drag by.

Bake!

The first time I baked with my boy was one of the most stressful moments in my entire life. I can’t abide mess, especially in a tiny kitchen, and he tried to eat half the raw mixture so I didn’t even get a big cakey reward for my efforts. I tried to think about why this had gone wrong, so the next time I let him choose what we’d be baking. We regularly baked and still do on rainy days. He knows it’s something that’s just for me and him, and it’s a wonderful way to bond.

photograph of a messy kitchen in a baking session - photographer derbyshire

Find a seriously good boxset – or several of them.

There’s a reason why TV is crap in the summer – because the best things are on in the winter. TV Land knows we don’t do much with our evenings at this time of year, so you can guarantee there’ll be good stuff to dive into once the kids are in bed. After a total dearth of decent telly in the warmer months, we were pretty happy to delve back into Stranger Things and Peaky Blinders this winter. Have a date movie night with your partner – or a movie day with your kids, and embrace the hygge.

Think about your summer holiday.

We all need something to look forward to. Looking ahead to what you’ll be doing in warmer months is not just a good way to get through the cold months – it’s necessary. It doesn’t matter whether you’re having five days in Northumberland (which was epic when we did it) or if it’s a month roadtripping across mainland Europe (holiday goals), research something with your kids and get excited about it!

Do something productive that you enjoy.

I rarely feel more peaceful than when I’m embracing my passion – photography. It’s not always easy to take photos at this time of year, and god knows I get sick of being in the four walls of my house, but I make it a priority. I’m a creative person and I love working with my hands, so whether I’m cooking something new or creating something with my camera, I need to have something going on. At the moment I’m doing a year long project, taking a photo every day and making time for it. It keeps my creative juices flowing, which keeps me feeling centred.

photograph of a boy and his father washing a blue car - photographer derbyshireimage of a woman taking a photograph - photographer derbyshireblack and white image of a toddler and her grandmother - photographer derbyshirephotograph of a young girl in a small pretend castle - photographer derbyshire

Eat something good for you

Right now I have a delicious ale stew bubbling away in my oven. I am salivating at the thought. I’ve always been a fan of the kind of food that sticks to your ribs, but at this time of year it’s on another level. My find of the century has been a waffle maker from Lidl for the princely sum of £10. Pile them up with greek yoghurt and fruit, drizzle some honey over, and have a foodgasm.

black and white image of a girl eating waffles - photographer derbyshire

Get out, regardless of the weather. And grab every opportunity for sunshine you can.

photograph of a young family with dressed for cold weather - photographer derbyshire

This is the best tip I can give for winter wellness: GET OUTSIDE. Waterproofs and wellies exist for a reason, so tog up and get out. Run around with your kids if they moan about being cold, fill your lungs with fresh air and enjoy whatever gorgeous part of the world you live in – rain or shine.

young girl in a red coat falling over in the snow - photographer derbyshireblack and white image of a man helping a toddler climb a tree - photographer derbyshirephotograph of a boy's hand as he plays with sticks on a fallen tree - photographer derbyshire

I love the outdoors, and love spending time with my kids outside. I love the feeling of all piling back home ready to just chill out and feel cosy with them. Winter’s almost over and I’m so looking forward to spring, but these things are making life a little easier. What about you? How do you get through long winter with small children?

I can often find myself feeling a bit blue, especially when I’m at home with the kids and it just doesn’t seem to stop snowing. I hate being cold and inactive, and the feeling that I’m stuck inside. The above stuff is just my personal checklist, things I like to spend time doing when I know that getting outdoors in the sunshine isn’t easy to achieve. For me, self care is my primary goal at this time of the year, along with making sure my kids have an awesome childhood.

What about you? What’s your strategy for surviving this time of year?