Five Winter Survival Strategies

Stocking up on bread, wine, and toilet paper are legit snow needs in the Midwest. 

Dangerously low temperatures close schools because pipes freeze, buses can’t start, and kids stick tongues on flag poles. 

Remember the polar vortex of 2014?  Anyone? It was so cold people complained the air hurt their face. 

On snow days when my kids were young, there was a tribe of neighbors who immediately jumped to action. 

Before the kids yawned and stretched, text messages and phone calls began.

On a typical day, kids were pulled from under the covers by their eyeballs. This is not true for a snow day. Extra static electricity in the air mixed with a zap from the polar vortex eradicated any hope of children sleeping beyond 7AM. 

It was okay though, as mentioned, our survival plan was solid. Years of midwest winters equipped my friends on how to do a snow day. 

First came a breakfast compatible with syrup followed by sledding. One of us drove a “warm up van”  to the sledding hill even though the hill was a 1/4 mile away.  

The van was a source of heat, rest, snacks, and a movie. Its sole purpose was to keep the sledding action active and provide a space for my special needs daughter to have fun. This part of the day had yet to provoke injury, meltdown, or quarreling siblings so prolonging the moment was top priority. For this reason, the van station was complemented by a parent on the hill armed with a thermos of hot chocolate for hits of warmth and sugar. 

Everyone…take your station.   

Eventually we caved to requests for dry socks and lunch. After lunch, everyone had to lay somewhere for quiet time. This was the only bit of quiet time mama was gonna get all day so the kids were to read, look at a screen, draw on the cushions with a sharpie, whatever. 

Just shhhhhh…… cause Mama has a hot cup of coffee and a People magazine.

The day avalanching after quiet time was a legitimate fear. Kids didn’t want to play in the snow (our fault for prolonging the morning). The craft that took 30 minutes to set up took 5 minutes to complete. Afternoons were never the highlight.

I do, however, recall one time when we nailed it. 

We hit it out of the ball park.  Now, before you get all judgmental at what I am about to share, keep in mind this was snow day number three. As in three days of no school excluding the weekend. One of my friends sent out the typical afternoon SOS and it was clear this one was serious. All hands on deck, folks.  We were there for each other. 

Everyone came over and before the kids even thought about taking off gloves and hats, we tossed the them in the back yard. 

We closed and locked the sliding door. We can see out, but they can’t get in. A few bottles of wine were opened and we dreamed of days the kids would be back in school.  Surely it will be soon, right? Occasionally a kid knocked on the door with some lame excuse to come in. She claimed needing to use the bathroom or whatever. 

Too bad.  We aren’t done with our wine. 

This is where my special needs daughter had the advantage. She was allowed to hang with the big girls inside. 

The journey with our special needs loved ones will occasionally take us through seasons of winter. Maybe “winter” is no sleep, advocacy, hospital stays, or all of the above.  Regardless, use the same

Five Winter Survival Strategies

1) Winter with others.

We need our people.  During winter, our people need to know their stations.  It may be comforter, babysitter, encourager, or whatever.  Know who your people are and talk to them about what station to take. 

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.  -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

2) Use the warm up van.

Pace yourself. Recharge. Refuel. You may be on the sledding hill for a while; long after you want to come home.

 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. – Jeremiah 31:25

3) Set aside quiet time during winter.

I fully realize this means our loved one may not get A+ or even C+ attention. That’s okay.  Jesus did it, too. He could have continued to heal, care for, and teach.  However, He took a catch ya later, I’m going up the mountain kind of approach. Sure that meant coming back to raging storms and other drama but everything worked out just fine. This is true for us, too. 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  -Mark 1:35

4) Drink_It_Up_allllll winter long.

Although Jesus was not above pulling out good wine when emergency hit, we are now referring to drinking the “living water.” Ask for the Spirit and then drink when He provides, which He will.

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water. – John 4:10

5) Remember, winter does not last forever.

Situations may or may not remain the same, but the stinging winds of the polar vortex eventually blow past.  The blistering scars might be permanent reminders, but the breeze you feel will change. Some days it will hurt your face and other days it will warm your heart.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to search and a time to give up; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.  – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Should you be in a season of winter, do know that spring is coming.  Much is happening in your heart just as much is happening under the frozen ground. Hang in there, friend. Your repeated seasons of winter are equipping you to show others how to survive as well.