As the weather gets colder, we are naturally slowing down more and more. Mornings give us long, quiet, candlelit breakfasts. Huge chunks of the day are given over to play. Evenings are spent under a blanket on the sofa.
It is easy to while away a whole day between cups of tea, books, and playing, and whilst I am loathe to suggest anything more in necessary, sometimes it’s nice to have an activity planned. I hope you enjoy this short list of ideas for the coming months, and please let me know what you have planned!
In the kitchen
- Bake. We bake all year round, but there is nothing better than delicious goods fresh from a hot oven on a cold winter day. We have already made gingerbread, and we are planning mince pies, fruit cake, and stollen – alongside our usual bread and scones. I wasn’t organised enough this year to made Christmas pudding, and I won’t be attempting my own doughnuts for Chanukah, but apart from that I’m hoping we can make most of our own sweet food for the festive season.
- Cook. Alas, we cannot live off baked goods alone! I’ve recently been enjoying making my own chicken stock, and to me winter always calls for soups, casseroles, roasts, winter salads… and hot chocolate. Frida loves helping in the kitchen and I adore cooking and baking alongside her. I always enjoy leafing through cookbooks in winter and trying new recipes.
- Mull. Wine, cider, or apple juice. It’s practically compulsory. Plus your home will smell incredible.
- Make chocolate! We are going to attempt to make some raw chocolate for some gifts this year – I’ll let you know how it goes… I love chocolate, and eat too much of it, and Frida is already a fan too. I love the idea of making healthier chocolate which I don’t mind Frida eating as much.
- Make pomanders. A delicious smelling fine-motor activity which young children can do (whilst you drink the wine you just mulled…)
Art and craft
- Create wrapping paper. I find this kills two birds with one stone; Frida can enjoy some process art and rather than disposing of the finished product (I’m not a monster, I promise – but I can’t keep everything!) we get some beautiful, personalised wrapping paper.
- Make seasonal greetings cards. Either freestyle, or in a more structured manner. We don’t generally send cards out, for environmental reasons, but this year we will send a few homemade ones to Frida’s friends. I plan on cutting out green Christmas tree shapes for her to decorate with stickers, paint and glitter then sticking these on plain card.
- Make Waldorf stars. I love making these for the beauty they add – especially in winter as they often manage to catch the elusive sunlight. You can read my simple tutorial here. This is a craft for adults or older children as they are fiddly, but you could make some from plain paper for your younger child to decorate.
- Mix up a batch of scented playdough. I am very lazy and tend to make no-cook playdough but I might branch out this year and try a cooked version. I love adding wintry spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. For added fun collect twigs together to use as playdough tools.
- Get the art materials out. Frida is really into painting at the moment, and winter is a wonderful time to get out art materials as we tend to spend more time indoors.
- Pottery painting. Frida and I recently went to a pottery cafe for her to make a couple of gifts. It was expensive – maybe you have a cheaper one near you! – so it’s not something we can do very often, but we had a special morning and she was so proud to make gifts for loved ones.
- Read together. I love nothing better than snuggling under a duet or blanket with Frida and a pile of books. We will continue to read our winter books and make regular trips to the library throughout winter, and make time to read through the day as well as bedtime.
- Light candles. We do this throughout the year but we light more in winter. A simple candle turns a winter breakfast from an ordeal into a joy. Snacks suddenly become a little bit magical. Simple suppers feel like feasts.
- Stage a simple puppet show. This is a Waldorf tradition that I just love. This is a great blog post explaining how they work and there are many ideas online. I will be taking some time to plan a couple for Frida, as I have seen how she loves the ones at her Waldorf playgroup.
- Take long bubble baths. For parents, this goes without saying (add Epsom salts for added loveliness), but at this time of year Frida often has long baths in the middle of the day. Some Lush bubbles and a few Schelich animals give her a good hour of fun, and make for some very easy parenting for me, perfect for days when one of us isn’t feeling 100 percent.
- Feed birds. At this time of year it’s harder for them to find food, so sprinkle seed, install a bird-feeder, hang homemade bird treats, or make animal friendly reindeer food. This is a lovely way to care for our feathered friends with young children.
- Go for long walks. I love walking in woods on a frosty, sunny winter morning, telling tales of Jack Frost and talking about the animals who are hibernating away from the cold – almost as much as I love walking in late winter, spotting new buds, shoots and flowers on each walk. Bring a flask with you, and appreciate getting warm afterwards!
- Collect treasures to bring home. Sprigs of holly, pine/fir/cedar cones, interesting twigs, beautiful leaves or branches. I love the tradition of decorating our homes with nature at this time of year. Just mind that you cut and/or collect responsibly, always from public spaces and always leaving some behind. I like bringing a little bag for Frida to fill with her finds.
- Track down your local advent fairs. We will be going to our local Steiner school’s advent fair, which promises to be magical. Our nearest common is also holding a Christmas fair. Mulled wine, home made gifts, and lots for young children to look at and take part in. I can’t wait.
- Visit museums and galleries. This winter I’m looking forward to planning lots of visits to London’s museums and galleries to enjoy whilst it’s cold out. I can’t wait until Frida is old enough to take ice skating!
- Take time to reflect. I am planning on making time to reflect on the last year, and set some intentions and hopes for the year to come. I would like to do this alone, but also with my husband. The end of the year feels like the perfect time to do this, as we look forward to the new. I’m also really excited to have booked onto a day retreat with Ray Dodd in early January which I’m hoping will encourage me to clarify my feelings about the past year – which has definitely not been the easiest one, but has in many ways been absolutely wonderful – and the one to come.
- Declutter. I always feel really drawn to sorting and decluttering in winter; I think it is to do with spending more time indoors and wanting our surroundings to feel cozy and welcoming. For me, this is a kind of self-care, so I try to make time to sort, declutter and deep clean, little and often.
- Look after yourself. Winter can often mean packed calendars, more food and alcohol than usual, and more tiredness. For me, looking after myself will mean taking time to do nothing – long bubble baths, early nights, soups and winter salads between roast potatoes and mince pies, and paying attention to my skin more than usual. For Frida, it will mean making sure she has plenty of quiet time to balance busy days, looking at her nutrition, and ensuring she is warm and well-rested.
I would also love to try and find a carol service to take Frida to, but I’m unsure if I will find one which isn’t too late in the day, and that fits into our diary.
What are you most looking forward to this winter?
I have a few more wintry posts planned over the next few weeks on how we will be celebrating Christmas as a secular family, some tips for a greener Christmas, and sharing the gifts we have bought Frida. Have you seen my Montessori-friendly gift guide and my list of Winter books we are enjoying?