Winter sucks. Trying to get through winter with a toddler brings new meaning to the concept of suckiness.
Sure, it’s awesome to watch your kid play in freshly fallen, powdery snow. And the first real snow day, with no school or work? It turns even the most jaded adult into a third grader again, dreaming of cuddles under the covers and hot chocolate after playing outside.
It’s absolutely amazing…until it’s not. And the “not” happens very quickly when you’re a mom. You realize that rosy glow from the cold might be the beginning of hypothermia, that your cooped-up toddler is literally bouncing off the walls, and that months upon months of tundra-like conditions will make you lose your sh*t on a weekly basis.
There’s no fighting it. This is your inevitable 14-step descent from denial to depression to acceptance and back again. Grab a mug of hot chocolate (with a little Bailey’s thrown in for good measure) and settle in for the cold, bumpy, germy ride.
Step 1: Experience the season’s first snowfall. It’s wondrous and beautiful. You take Instagram-worthy shots of your kid in the snow. You giggle like a schoolgirl with your toddler as you belt out “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” while making your very own Olaf. Winter? You can do this. Until 36 hours go by and the snow turns slushy…then icy…then yellow. And you have to wear your sensible boots for the next three months.
Step 2: Stay inside to do Pinterest projects. You’re not usually the craftiest of moms, but look at all of these cute, creative ideas! You’ll transform paper plates into snowflakes, you’ll create a mini Arctic menagerie out of pipe cleaners and discarded wine corks, and you’ll make fake snow out of shaving cream and conditioner. How clever are you?!
Step 3: Stay inside because it’s just too damn cold to go outside. It was nowhere near this cold yesterday, was it? Now you’re apparently living on Hoth. But you’re still OK, even though you’re now out of Pinterest-project ingredients, as well as personal-hygiene products. Instead of risking frostbite with a toddler who refuses to put on gloves, you decide to bake cookies and play 283 games of hide and seek. (Conservative estimate.)
Step 4: Go out because you can’t take it anymore. Everyone’s starting to go stir-crazy, and if you bake one more batch of cookies, you’re going to turn into the Pillsbury Dough Mom. So you go to a children’s museum or some similarly enclosed area where other stir-crazy parents have brought their kids—including their sick kids. Thanks, random strangers!
Step 5: Your toddler gets sick from your day out. If you’re lucky, it’ll be a cold. If not, you’re going to get puked on. Repeatedly.
Step 6: Just as he’s starting to feel better, you catch whatever he had. Because of course you do.
Step 7: Your toddler has a particularly bad stretch of sleeping. As in, he has no interest in doing it, due to residual coughing, random teething or, you know, being a toddler. This only prolongs your sickness and makes you feel worse in every way.
Step 8: Try to limit TV time. Even though you’re miserably sick, you’re still trying to be a good parent. You might allow an extra episode of Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger, but that’s it. You’ll play dinosaurs on the couch, be the co-architect of elaborate Play-Doh creations, cuddle and read books, and encourage your toddler’s ability to play independently.
Step 9: Give in and binge-watch Frozen. Because let’s face it: You feel like something Sven coughed up and you can barely keep your eyes open, let alone entertain another (very needy) person. By the way: The cold never bothered you anyway, Elsa? You’re on crack.
Step 10: Feel like the worst parent ever. But not necessarily bad enough to stop doing what you’re doing. One more movie won’t stunt a kid’s brain development that much, will it?
Step 11: Seriously consider moving to Fiji. The daydream starts to impair your daily functioning, and you start Googling affordable beach cottages. Your wardrobe will consist of bathing suits and flip-flops, and you’ll live on coconuts and fish you’ve caught yourself. Think of all the money you’ll save! You’re totally going to make a spreadsheet and present it to your husband tonight.
Step 12: Have a mini breakdown. Your husband may seriously question your sanity, but at least he’ll take over kid duty for the next few days so you can get some much-needed rest.
Step 13: Start to feel better. It’s amazing how much better you are at this parenting thing when you feel like a human being. You can do this.
Step 14: Go back to Step 1 and repeat for the next three months. Just remember to restock your liquor cabinet. Hey, alcohol kills germs, right?