What keeps me sane in the winter? This is a tricky question. My sanity is actually questionable in any season...ha!

To be completely honest (and I usually don't offer this information because I get a lot of weird looks!), I actually prefer fall and winter. It's not that I don't love a beautiful spring or summer (read: not too humid) day or when my children play outside. Rather, the days in the winter are shorter...and, well, shorter days work for me now! The early darkness means the kids seem to naturally be ready for sleep earlier. And, I'm more than ready to head upstairs for bath and books at 7 p.m. and lights out by (hopefully) 7:30!

I think that, for the most part, I am *fairly* sane and happy in every season. This is not to say that I don't have tons of "pull my hair out" moments or days when I beg my husband to switch places with me! But, here are a few things that work for me. No doubt they will all sound familiar...

As a stay-at-home mom of six kids ages 7 and under, I am a stickler for routine. We had a "snow day" last week for bitter cold temperatures. My first instinct was to panic! Then I realized that a routine could potentially keep us all happy even if we were stuck in the house all day! I wrote out a quick schedule and told the kids in advance (for example: breakfast, free play, short DVD, snack, playdoh, free time, lunch time, craft time, longer movie, etc.). Having an idea of what was going to happen next helped to keep the restlessness and bickering to a minimum!

My youngest is almost three months old. An, I am thrilled that I am beginning to resume some of the activities that keep me balanced. For example, a long walk, an hour at the gym, or coffee with a girlfriend. Although it's not ever convenient or easy to "sneak out", I find it makes a humungous difference in my mood for the rest of the week!

About six weeks ago, I heard myself telling a friend that I was spending about 21-22 hours a day in my house (I'd get out in the morning for the preschool run, playdates, errands, etc. and then home for lunch, naps, school bus, homework, dinner, bedtime). Although I am blessed with a beautiful house that I love, I realized that I was very out of balance! At least I am much better when I make myself a priority too.

What kids don't love being silly? Unfortunately, my kids usually get very silly at bedtime. By then, my appreciation for silliness has waned and I'm not amused! But silliness can bring a quick and welcome change of mood at other times of the day (if only I remembered to be silly more often!).

Last week, dinner was not going well. We usually wait for Daddy to get home from work, but the kids were begging me for snacks, so I knew they needed to eat sooner. Of course, the complaints about my meal started immediately. I grabbed a banana (because I didn't think a beer would be appropriate!) and started to talk into it like it was a phone. My kids just stared like I had lost my mind...and then they all burst out laughing. I started telling the person on the other side of the banana that Cecilia was doing a wonderful job eating her vegetables. Suddenly, three others (there's always a holdout!) started eating their vegetables too. If only this worked all the time! My very young audience (I fear a lot of eye rolling with older kids!) appreciates it when I shake my sillies out (and so do I because I don't have to yell to get cooperation!).

I love the fact that I can hang out in sweatpants for most of the fall and winter (even more than usual this year as I struggle to lose my baby weight!). And then there's coffee. And coffee comes in lots of yummy flavors! And there's decaffeinated so I can avoid the jitters when another cup would taste so good (and keep me happy during a stressful time of day!). Finally, there's sleep. I am very blessed with excellent sleepers (one of the reasons that our children are spaced so closely...ha!). I sleep much better in the winter buried deep beneath my cozy down comforter. There are so many free and guiltless comforts when the thermometer outside dips!

These are just a few things that help to keep me sane in winter. And, before I know it, it'll be spring and the days will be longer…ready or not :)!

What do you do to stay sane when forced indoors?

Copyright 2014, Trish Bolster