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Surviving the Cold Snap in Rural Alberta

8 tips on how to stay sane while indoors and how to keep the little ones entertained.

By Pauline Halina

Winter is here and it’s starting to get (c)old.

There is nothing like waking up to your phone alerting you of an Extreme Cold Warning or the dreaded Extreme Snow Fall Warning. I sigh and reminisce about the warmer days, the days of chasing a toddler around the yard, the days of stepping outside without needing Sorels and a down filled jacket. Snow days are all fine and dandy if you live in an area where the snow ploughs are out first thing in the morning or the neighbourhood boy gang is out shoveling sidewalks. I complain, dear readers, because I live in rural Alberta and I am a mother to two beautiful children, 2, and 11 weeks and we are all confined to the in-doors. It was so cold in December that the water line from our cistern to the house actually froze. We had no water because it was FROZEN! Other than that, my snow days consist of drifting snow, severe wind chill warnings and waiting for my husband to come home so he can hop in the skid steer to move snow just so I can get the truck out of the yard.

I also complain because my newest edition, Baby E, has seen the outside world a total of 3 whomping times. (Not counting hurried trips from the truck to inside the grocery store and back again) We crave to be outside again. We need to be outside again! But this “-20 weather but feels like -30 crap,” has our house on lock down. I seriously have jealousy issues when my husband ventures outside to do his daily farm chores.

Our day starts with me frowning at the weather station that sits on our kitchen island as it teases me.

“You’re not going outside today because it’s -25.”

So I fill my coffee cup with my strongest brew and prepare to bring out the Play-Doh for the 2-year old so he can leave chunks of it in inconspicuous places for me to find later. The poor kid loves to play outside but Mother Nature has us under her house arrest. My hatred for Play-Doh is growing by the day and there are only so many seasons of Paw Patrol on Netflix! I listen to him whine, “Outside mama, outside!” But I have to gently remind him that it’s just too cold and miserable.

So what do we do with all our time, you ask. How do we get through these cold snaps? Here are my 8 Go-Tos for staying sane during these chilly Albertan cold spells.

Tip One

Rural folks, make a plan! Make a grocery day – snow shoe it to Wal-Mart if you must! Actually just throw ‘er in 4×4 and make a trip into town!
If it’s freezing, make sure the vehicle is started a head of time so when the little ones get in, they are toasty warm.

Tip Two

Stock up on washable crayons or markers. Let the toddler colour in the bathtub or on the windows try to keep them busy as possible or else all hell breaks loose. They will love this idea! Just make sure it’s the non-toxic and did I mention, WASHABLE. Or here’s a fun one, grab a large storage tote and fill it full of snow and dump it in the bathtub. Grab some sandbox shovels and some tractor toys and have your own winter sandbox! Literally zero clean up!

Tip Three

When babes are napping, do something that takes your mind off the weather. Read, catch up on The Bachelor, or be super mom and clean something.

Tip Four

Keep in contact with friends, I repeat, don’t go silent. You may live in the middle of nowhere but it ain’t Antarctica honey. Cold days can he hard, but complaining to your friends some how makes things so much easier. Get it off your chest girlfriend! Oh and if you can, try to invite some over for a movie or wine night!

Tip Five

This one is my favourite but not my husband’s. Online Shopping! Ugh, you have no idea how much this has saved my sanity – plus you get to go into town to check the mailbox! Hello new present to me from me. Might as well stop at Timmy’s for that double double while you are at it.

Tip Six

Plan a tropical vacation. We are taking the family and fleeing to Cancun for 10 days for that much needed Vitamin D. Honestly, this is a must. If your family can swing it, ditch the snow for sand. (Go back to Step Five to prep for Step Six)

Tip Seven

Go the gym or attend a fitness class once a week. If you can go more than once then great! Living outside of town can make driving into town during icy road conditions a little less favourable so try to aim to attend a class or make it to the gym once a week. Find a sitter or leave the ninos with Dad, and head to town to release some endorphins. Once you get home, you will feel renewed and refreshed.

Tip Eight

We all have that one room, one closet, one drawer or one cupboard in the house that is pure chaos. Take a deep breath and count to 10 because we are going to venture there. Take an afternoon and reorganize whatever nightmare is lurking in that godforsaken area. When the sun comes out, and it will eventually, you will feel so much better that you finally tackled that mess of a space or closet. You go Mama, you finally organized that dreaded space!

Eventually, the temperature will rise and the wind chill will dissipate. It will be a beautiful day with the sun beaming through the trees and the snow will be just wet enough to build that perfect snowman. A day where the baby can finally ride along in her stroller to take in the peaceful rural surrounding that is her home. The toddler can dive into snow hills and chase the dogs around as they discover long forgotten toys buried in the snow. The day will come mamas, and when it does, you will still have that tan from Mexico, and you will be sporting that cute sweater you ordered from Amazon. And when you go inside to put the dog toys away, you will be beaming because you organized that nightmare that is now the dogs’ storage cupboard and you will think to yourself…Mom = 1 , Winter = 0.

Bye, Felicia.

Pauline Halina grew up on a dairy farm in central Alberta. After completing her journalism degree at Mount Royal University, she pursued a career in Marketing and Advertising. After falling in love with her husband, they left the hustle and bustle of the city to return to their farming roots and to help out on the family grain farm. Together, they have two beautiful children and can’t imagine raising them in any other environment. The farm is a home and a way of life. Join Pauline as she reveals her life on the farm and how to keep up in the country.