The holidays are over and it’s now what I always called “the Dark Time.” Especially living in southern Alaska, where we only get about 7 hours of daylight, the name fits. From now until Spring, I am battling winter blues for all I’m worth! Thankfully, a homesteader’s work is never done and this is the perfect time for certain chores.
It can be easy to let the cold and dark get to you during this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing here in Alaska! It comes from a lack of vitamin D and can make you lethargic, depressed, and completely unmotivated. A lot of people use light therapy to get over it, or go tanning (no judging!) to alleviate the blues. For me, I’ve always done three things that tends to get me through until April where the temperatures are warmer and the sun is shining longer.
Taking Stock of Your Home
This is the perfect time of year, when things are slow, to go through the pantry, fridge, and freezer and take stock of what you have on hand. This time of year, I do a major shifting of meat from the freezers and identify which packs are nearing the one year mark – then I can the meat up so it’s shelf stable and preserved for another 18-24 months.
I also check things like my canning jar and lid supplies, spices, and other needful things like the ingredients for making more laundry soap, cleaning supplies, and specialty items. We don’t use much liquid smoke but I always make sure to have an extra bottle on hand (as an example).
I also take stock of clothing, shoes, jackets, linens, and bathroom stuff. I donate what doesn’t fit, repurpose old t shirts into shop rags, and generally keep the dresser and closet from getting over stuffed with items I don’t wear.
Of course, going through the things listed above will naturally lead to organizing but this is the perfect time of year to really drill down to the smallest things and organize them! By taking it one room at a time, I never get overwhelmed or only half way done in each space. It’s important to break the larger project down into little chunks and not try to get it all done in one day. You didn’t fill your house up in one day! Give yourself a break!
If you only have one day a week to work on the project, so be it! Pick a room, make a realistic goal for yourself and dive in. Music and making sure you have eaten is important to the success and completion, too. You need fuel to work and the music helps you stay focused without being bogged down by the ‘work’ you’re doing. Personally, I find it rather liberating to get rid of all the junk and have a tidy room at the end of it.
For me, this is the ‘big cleaning’ of the year, not in spring. In spring, I’m waaay too busy outside and in the garden to give up any time for the project. Plus, doing it in the darker months makes me feel like I’m all set, neat, and tidy for the upcoming busy part of the year.
Planning Ahead (Especially the FUN stuff!)
My absolute go-to for beating the winter blues is to plan for the upcoming year. Planning what, you ask? Everything! Especially the fun stuff. Here’s a list of things I plan for during this time of year:
- Any trips or vacations (including camping)
- The Garden (my favorite!)
- Hobby projects
- Canning goals
- Outdoor and/or building projects
- Summer activities (hiking, fishing, camping, etc)
- ….you get the idea.
Each bullet point requires further planning and plotting which takes a good amount of time. Of course, not everyone is a planner like I am but the important thing is to have something on the horizon to look forward to. A trip, seeing friends or family, graduating college…whatever makes you smile and get excited is what you’re looking for! If you wallow in the winter blues, you may get bogged down too much.
As a reward to yourself for doing all that wonderful organizing, pick something you really want to learn. A skill, a talent, whatever it is! Not much else is going on anyway, so why not gift yourself a wish! You know what I mean, “Oh, I wish I knew how to play the violin,” or something like, “Oh, I wish I had time to write/paint/draw/learn.” NOW is the perfect time! You’re too busy during the rest of the year!
Embrace this down time! There is a balance to everything and though humans tend to “go, go, GO!” all the time, winter is the time to sit back and reflect. Be productive, certainly, but allow yourself the luxury of doing it at a steady pace instead of a frantic one.