How I Learned To LOVE Winter
When I moved to my first smallholding back in January 2003, we were a long way from “home” and what we’d been used to. I had two young children and didn’t get out of the house very much and those winter months dragged on.
Winter is long and seems to go on forever some years. As soon as the clocks went back for daylight saving in October I would start to be filled dread. The run up to Christmas made short cold days bareable as I made fun & interesting Christmas projects. But January, February and March were like a nightmare.
I’d try to fill my days with domestic chores to keep busy. Batch bake enough homemade food to last the entire year but the days never seemed filled and seemed to go so slow I couldn’t find enough to fill them.
Ten years ago I’d had enough of dreading half of my year, my feelings also had a knock on effect to my children and I felt like I was teaching them - winter is bad! It felt like I was wasting half our life!
So, I found ways to love winter and taught my children winter is a season to be celebrated as much as glorious summer.
So many people struggle with winter and if you are one of then a simple change of mindset is all that’s needed to turn your feelings around and start to love winter.
Generations have complained about the weather. I remember as a child standing with my mother who’d be chatting to someone she’d met in town, the first topic of conversation would be the weather! They’d complain it’s too cold, too hot, too wet....
it hasn’t changed, I even find myself having those same conversations - whist questioning myself, “why”?!
Throughout the whole of winter I would just feel bored and lethargic.
With no interesting outside activities that I loved to do, once my usual farm jobs - mucking out, feeding and general animal husbandry were done I felt the rest of my days were just a bore!
The farmhouse was like a shiny new pin and freezers were over stocked. I had nothing to do!
I hate sleeping through the day and also sitting about the house. I don’t allow TV on during the day and didn’t want to slip in to that routine.
Motivation was at an all time low through those dark months and I found us spending an awful lot of time round the kitchen table eating much more than we needed to! Resulting in extra gaining winter weight I’d totally regret come spring!
I come to realise that Motivation is a state of mind not a season! It just took me a long time to realise that!
I decided to find ways to celebrate winter and utilise the sleepy season as a force for good instead of demonising it.
I soon realised that winter could be used as a huge advantage to me and my family’s future life.
Once all the excitement of Christmas had died down and we entered the thick of winter with what seemed like very little to look forward to, except spring - that was in the very distant future, I planned my days to make improvements, things I’d never do in summer.
I started to use those long dark months to develop myself personally. I studied new skills, taking online courses on subjects I’d always loved to learn but never found the time (even though I’d wasted the previous 10 years of winter months)!
Through the summer months I’d gather a small library of books I wanted to read and store them on my bookshelf in anticipation of reading them once winter started. I amazed myself with how many books I enjoyed through those dark six months of winter.
I LOVE creating cosy spaces – something we don’t do in summer. Lighting my fires, lots of cosy blankets, hot chocolate and watching movies cuddled up with Molly and the Scottie pack.
I made sure I also had some down time to recharge - something I’d never do through summer - long hot baths with my homemade relaxing bath soak became something I really looked forward to.
We naturally feel more tired in winter, I learned that that’s perfectly okay and acceptable, so learned to go to bed an hour or two earlier and rest instead of constantly rushing round like a mad woman.
Changing my mindset about winter instead of getting all worked up and emotional about it made it a season that it should be... one to embrace and enjoy, just like spring and summer.
Finding activities you can enjoy through winter and learning new skills, growing and improving as a person is just as creative as planting your garden and improving your holding as you would be doing through the summer months.
I used winter to study aromatherapy, herbalism and organic skincare formulation. I spent long winter nights developing my businesses, learning the science behind natural candle making which later became a business too. Then I went on to write an online course on natural candle making, herbal tea blending and other skills people want to learn about.
Turns out if it hadn’t been winter and I hadn’t done this I wouldn’t have had anything at all when my service businesses were closed down in March due to lockdown!
Now I even love going out in to the cold and wet to work on the farm because I have a hearty meal prepared, my fires lit, house lovely and cosy and a hot shower waiting for me for when I get in.
Long cold days spent outside on the farm simply mean I have to wrap up more but I spend much more quality time with all of my animals than I do in summer when they are turned away and just need a quick check round. Winter means feeding, walking around them and a deeper connection. Filling cattle ring feeders under a clear moonlit sky with the stars shining brightly above feels like a privilege, I would never see or experience that beauty if I was inside for all the dark hours.
I also believe I appreciate summer much more after a long winter and enjoy every single day!
If you stop and think about it for a few minutes there is so much to be grateful for in winter, if you can motivate yourself to embrace everything it brings and move away from simply focusing on the weather and depression.. otherwise you’ve already talked yourself into something that’s not necessarily true!