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WAHM Has Cabin Fever


It’s Winter, and My Kid is Driving Me Crazy

I love winter. I love the cozy feeling of looking out my living room window to see fresh snow falling on the ground. I love pulling my daughter through our neighborhood on her little purple sled. I love building snowmen and drinking mass quantities of hot chocolate.

However, this is the first winter I have been a WAHM. While this puts me in the wonderful position to bake lots of fattening goodies and spend some quality time with those I love the best, I’m not feeling a whole lot of holiday cheer these days.

I blame my house. It is a) not new, and b) not large. Problem a) is only a real problem in the winter, when heating is a big joke. In order to keep my house even remotely warm, I have to put those plug-in oil space heaters everywhere. I mean everywhere—we have one in just about every room. While they are great at keeping heating bills low, they are rather ugly and, because they can’t sit right next to walls or other things that could possibly combust, they take up quite a bit of space.

This brings us to the next issue. Problem b) has only very recently arisen. In the summer, when the house started to feel confining, I tossed my daughter outside, pulled up a plastic lawn chair, and settled in with my laptop. Although outside fun is still possible in the winter, it occurs in much shorter bursts and requires my full attention (mostly because I have to keep moving in order to stay thawed). Inside fun is rapidly becoming impossible. What with the Christmas tree, the decorations, and the space heaters, we barely have room to walk, let alone play.

The end result is an active toddler with not enough to do and an irritated mother with too much to do. I get crabby, which makes her crabby, which makes me crabby…you get the idea. It’s mid-December, and I’m about ready to wrap my daughter and give her to my parents for Christmas.

Since I doubt my parents would appreciate that particular gift, I’ve developed some coping strategies to get us from day to day.

Clearly Separate Work and Play Time
This is a new hat I’m trying on. I’m getting up earlier and putting in a few hours before anyone else in the house gets up. I’m finding relatives with time to spare to take my daughter for a few blissful hours. I’m also leaving the house the second my husband gets home from work. If it has an outlet and free wi-fi, I’m there; Starbucks and the library have become my best friends. In exchange, I restrict my hours on the computer and try to give one-on-one time to my daughter when we’re both at home. (Though even this isn’t always true; I often take her places where she can play with other kids and I can read. The mall and bookstores are great for that.)

Bring New Life to Old Toys
Although I haven’t yet resorted to wrapping old toys that she hasn’t noticed in awhile and letting her open them like they’re Christmas presents, I’m getting close. Until I get to that point, I’m trying to make her neglected toys new and interesting the old fashioned way. For example, we have a little plastic slide that used to grace our front yard. To make it fun for winter, I brought it inside and put it some pretty odd places. Sometimes it’s on the couch. Other times, it’s precariously balanced off the edge of a papasan chair. Still other times, it acts as a bridge between the two aforementioned pieces of furniture. You may be thinking to yourself that these sound like major accidents waiting to happen. You’re probably right. But at this point, I figure even a trip to the emergency room would be a diversion.

Split Screen
This very recently came to me. My daughter is an avid follower of the Little Einsteins series on the Disney Channel. Disney has very cleverly developed a website that has interactive games and videos based on this show (actually, on all of their shows). I can split my computer screen so that she can play her games while I peruse blogs or even do a little writing at the same time. This is not a really efficient system—especially since I don’t have one of those newfangled wide screen monitors—but it’s gotten me through a few rough patches.

Santa’s Little Helper
Although my daughter is too young to threaten with Santa’s Naughty List, she does enjoy being helpful. I will have her run “errands” for me while I type away on the computer. Sometimes she moves socks or stacks pots and pans at my request. At this exact moment, for example, she is moving the presents from under the tree to the couch, helpfully reciting to whom she thinks each present should be presented. (I’m not on her list, by the way. But the dog is.) Once she’s done, I’m going to ask her to put them somewhere else, eventually leading back to the tree.

I’ll let you know how long this game lasts.

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    On December 12th, 2007 at 3:13 pm, Lis Garrett ~ a writer's woolgatherings said:

    LOL! I have to applaud your creativity! Winter is a tough time, for sure! I am a complete wuss when it comes to being cold, and I really don’t like going outside (I’m talking about in temps lower than 30). In January, Bridget will be going to preschool twice a week, which will give me six hours of unhindered work time. Woo hoo!! She’ll get to play. I’ll get to work. Now when summer rolls around, I’m not sure what I will do with THREE kids home?!

    On December 12th, 2007 at 3:29 pm, Deaf Mom said:

    Winter is indeed tough to get through when working from home.

    Let me give you some old, tired advice– cherish this time when you have a little one at home. All too soon you’ll be looking back and longing for the days when you had a little one at home! :)

    On December 12th, 2007 at 3:38 pm, Sandi Valentine said:

    I’m considering gifting my baby to my father for Christmas, as well. I don’t think he’ll be appreciative, though.

    I feel your pain. I’m right there with you with my drafty old house and active toddler.

    On December 12th, 2007 at 7:16 pm, Ally said:

    Ugh I’m not supposed to be commenting on blogs gggrr but yours comes right to my inbox and I must say that I have NEVER bought into this “multitasking” thing– that just makes you do two things halfway. Family time is family time and work time is work time. So I’m with ya there.

    I get you. There’s many of us holding on by our fingernails- see my entry yesterday at writersunbound for a play by play taste.

    On December 12th, 2007 at 8:27 pm, Michele said:

    You are very creative, that’s for sure! I wish you a smooth and productive 2008 :-) You’ve earned it!

    On December 12th, 2007 at 10:18 pm, Naomi Dunford said:

    Darlin’, I feel your pain! I have a 2-bedroom apartment and no car. I totally understand.

    On December 13th, 2007 at 10:45 am, Dana said:

    I can totally relate to this e-mail! I have a three year old who has been tormenting me all week. I’ve tried negotiating breaks (I’ll play a game & then read two stories but then you watch a movie so mommy can work, ok?) but he would rather stand on my rebounder beside me and talk/bounce while I try to work. I put the rebounder there for my own fitness/sanity when pages are taking a long time to load but it’s turned into a bouncing distraction. LOL.
    Where are you, summer??

    On December 13th, 2007 at 1:56 pm, Angela (Cottage Magpie) said:

    Man, those oil heaters! We had them all over our last house, a charming but “cozy” (read, small and cramped) 1930’s cottage. However, if you have the same kind I had, the completely sealed radiant oil heaters, they don’t get hot enough to make anything combust, including walls. In fact, I always put my bath towel on it to have a nice warm bath towel after my shower, because I noticed a lady at the local spa doing the same thing in her massage space. For what it’s worth. (Of course, you should check with someone locally to make sure your heaters are the same!) :-)
    ~Angela :-)

    On December 13th, 2007 at 4:29 pm, Kate B. said:

    With a very active 18 month old and a tiny, tiny house in the woods, I can certainly relate to this. The past 14 days have brought ice storms, snow, rain, and dangerous winds, so we are going NUTS around here. When BF gets home with the car tonight, we’re headed to the mall simply to let Ella run off some steam.

    It’s going to be a long winter, but I’ve gotten some good entertainment ideas from reading your blog. (I especially loved reading in a different post that you put your daughter in the tub to play more than once a day! Brilliant!)

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