During my senior year of high school, I took a class on winter survival. That class was geared toward building a car kit with flares and granola bars and learning how to build a shelter in the snow. But the kind of survival I am talking about today is the kind where a woman looks aghast at her calendar and says, “What on earth? Is it STILL January?!!” Longest month ever. Plus, we’re on a tight budget and ran out of food money nine days ago. For real, January, let it go.

But it got me to thinking about the things I do to make it through with my spirits high. I have decided to regroup my seasons, and My Winter is actually January, February and March. It sets March up with much more realistic expectations. It’s going to snow a lot that month…might as well call it winter. Which means we are just one-third of the way through this season.

I actually do love winter but mostly because of the hibernation and hunkering it naturally brings. Which is why I wanted to share my favorite winter survival skills:

  1. Kiwi, orange and banana salad. Just these three. Just one of each. Cut up into a fruit salad. I swear it turns into a different food entirely. Somehow  they all balance each other out, and because they are in season all winter long it can feel like a little tropical get-away. Try it before you knock it. It’s my favorite.
  1. Hot Baths. Honestly, people who don’t have winter just can’t get the gift of a hot bath. Or a hot shower, for that matter. We just read The Long Winter to our kids, where the Ingalls family nearly starve to death waiting for the train to come through the snow drifts in late, late April. Blizzards came for days at a time and only left for one or two days. It was terrible. My husband, Rory, mentioned that he couldn’t imagine not having a hot shower…ever. That whole generation died before they knew the goodness of a hot shower! Don’t take it for granted!
  1. A roaring fire. This isn’t completely fair because many people don’t have a fireplace. We dreamed of our fireplace and talked about it and even made fake paper fireplaces on our living room walls for a decade. But when you are bone cold, there is NOTHING like standing next to a roaring hot stove. It’s such a good, radiant heat.
  1. Grapefruits, peeled like an orange and then each section peeled again. There is no other way to eat a grapefruit. Get rid of that sharp spoon and learn from my ways. My uncle Wayne taught me this method, and I can never go back. Taking a bite of an enormous wedge of grapefruit in the dead of winter? Well, it’s worth all the work and mess off peeling the whole thing. It will reset your mood, outlook, and will become a daily ritual. Just the smell alone can do wonders.
  1. Winter photography. This is a favorite. When I’m feeling like it, it is so good to get outside and look for what is beautiful. There is so much. We recently had a snow that coated each tree in white on just one side. I looked out my windows and thought there is just no better painting in the world than the one God changes for us each day.
  1. Tea Time with Popcorn! Do this! I was recently at Cub and looking at microwave popcorn. And then I saw a bag of whole kernels for a fraction of the price, for like 10 times the amount of popcorn. And I thought, “Aunt Louie pops her own popcorn. How hard can it be?” And thank you, Aunt Louie! It’s not hard! At all! I don’t even have a pan with a proper fitting lid, and I still can do it. (Look it up on youtube, lots of videos..it’s a cinch, try it with coconut oil…yum!) Anyway, each day at 3:00 when my kids start saying they’re hungry I have been making popcorn and tea. (They love tea now that Mary and Laura drank so much in The Long Winter. We’re really into Good Earth Sweet and Spicy…thanks to some recommendations from friends!) What used to be a long and dragging part of our day has become a highlight. We sit and sip and eat and talk and regroup for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
  1. An electric blanket. So excited about this. I don’t know if a night has passed where Rory or I don’t say, “This blanket is the best.” The bed is already heated when you crawl in. An electric blanket is just a sweet luxury that isn’t that expensive. Yes, 2017 is a fine time to be alive.
  1. Good books. I have been listening to The Read Aloud Revival podcast that shares great, wholesome books to read aloud to the whole family. (They have a book list of recommendations on their site to print off!) Some of the titles are too advanced for my kids, but I want to read them. My list is long, and the books are classics, or certain to become classics. And you tell me if you’re not hungry for a good story of good people doing the right thing!
  1. Playdates. Winter is such a catch-22 because the second you plan a playdate, someone gets sick. But we persevere because eventually it works out, and friendship is good for everyone.
  1. Go to bed early. I love this one. Especially because I’m pregnant and exhausted. But isn’t it nice to have permission to go to bed before 10, just because it’s that dark? In the summer, Rory and I will putter in the yard until 10 most nights, working on projects. But not in winter. There have been many nights at dinner that I announce, “I am going to bed with the kids tonight.” And when 7:00 rolls around, I’m the first one with my teeth brushed and contacts out.

So there is my list. I’d love to hear if you have any other favorites to add. You’ll note I’m not super active this winter. A daily walk would be a good addition but hard with all the little people (and snowpants drama) involved. But do share! Because of this list, I really do love winter. And I’d love to add more ideas!

Guest Contributor Becca Groves is a stay-at-home mom to three awesome kids, Ivar,Elsie and Hattie. She and her husband, Rory, live on a hobby farm where they keep bees, tap maple trees, have chickens and kittens and a garden. She blogs about her adventures in motherhood, marriage, and hobby farming at joyfullybecca.com.