Winter in the Midwest: Staving Off The Stir-Crazy


Winter is arriving in Indiana, and my four-year-old daughter and I are already starting to feel a little stir-crazy at the thought of not spending our evenings and weekends outside. So stir-crazy, that she’s taken to asking for daily trips to our community pool (which is outdoors) and for a new pink tennis racquet to take to the community tennis courts (also outside). Girlfriend had a fun little taste of snow a few weeks ago, but at only 4, she has no recollection of last winters’ bitter cold that is about to set in again and keep us inside even more than we are now.

With shorter daylight hours and her baby sister due at pretty much any moment (and with me hating the cold), we’re all going to be stuck inside even more this winter than last, so I’ve started a list of some activities that Kate and I both enjoy to keep us sane this winter season.


I began practicing hot yoga (read: my cousin very sneakily coerced me into joining a studio with her) a few months before I found out that I was pregnant with the newest little lady. I discovered that I really enjoyed practicing – in and out of the heat. The breathing relaxed my body and mind and I started to notice my body getting stronger and more toned from the poses. Kate, being the mama’s girl that she is, quickly picked it up with me

Living Room Yoga. Some good, quiet fun.
Living Room Yoga. Some good, quiet fun.

and subsequently learned how to chill her Knies-temper when it flared with her ‘loga breathing’. Though it’s pretty difficult for me to do a downward dog with a nine-months pregnant belly, Kate has certainly kept up her practice (and given a few lessons to her dad) and is looking forward to the day that I can do her favorite tree pose without toppling forward. We turn to YouTube when we need to learn some new moves.

Dance Parties

Sometimes when you’re 4 (or 30) you just need to wildly jump around to get the crazy out. We like to move the furniture out of the way, flip on our favorite music and have our own little living room dance parties. Calories burned + a worn-out 4-year-old (and maybe a nap) = a happy mama

Scrapbooking – Preschool Style

I like to craft. A lot. I’m a pretty serious crafter, and I’m pretty damn good at it if I do say so myself. My kid likes it, too. But sometimes, making my fancy crafts that someone is paying me money for just can’t happen when my kid is awake unless she has something super awesome to craft herself. I usually keep dollar kid crafts items around that she can use without a whole lot of supervision, but that doesn’t always cut it for her. So this winter, I’m going to give her some empty scrapbooks and let her fill them with the shoeboxes of photos that I have sitting around. She can decorate the pages however she wants and question why I had some ill-advised brunette hair during a weird time in college (you’re never too young to laugh at your mom’s questionable style. Never ever.)

Fort Building

This is the winter that Kate is going to learn the fine art of living room fort building. Dining room chairs and blankets from the living room and maybe part of our loveseat and a bunch of pillows. KatieLady is going to have her own little hideout to read and do puzzles (and hopefully nap) during the times when little sister won’t allow me to put her down.

This year's table fort will include blankets. No moms allowed.
This year’s table fort will include blankets. No moms allowed.


Tater (as she sometimes goes by) and I both inherited the Smith Sweet Tooth. I’m usually good for making a homemade treat every few weeks, and she LOVES to help measure and mix the ingredients. This winter, we’re going to pull out some Dubois County, Indiana cookbooks and try some new recipes to appease our cravings. Hopefully, all the measuring will help her math skills, too?

Movie Days

I’m not stupid. I’m going to have a newborn at home. I’m going to be nursing and pumping and changing diapers around the clock. And I’m going to be exhausted. I’m also planning the above activities on having a baby as chill as her big sister used to be. In the event that the newest baby isn’t as calm and in the 100%-going-to-happen case of me just not being able to even move anymore, we’re going to catch up on some shows. Old Disney movies from my childhood, a Harry Potter marathon, and reruns of Gilmore Girls are definitely on the agenda for us.

Hopefully, once the days start getting a little longer and the grass a little greener, we’ll be a little more rested and ready to emerge from our blanket fort to tackle the playground and tennis courts again.

What do you do to stave off the stir crazy during winter?

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Samantha is a native of small-town Southern Indiana who loves exploring the Circle City with her husband and their daughters, Kate (October 2011) and Isla (December 2015). After finishing a degree in Professional Writing at Purdue, Sam made her way to the greater Indianapolis area where she learned to embrace the lack of hills and abundance of interstate. After an 8-year career in business development and marketing, she’s taken a step back from the corporate world to focus on her own business – GrayGirl Designs – where she designs invitations, stationary, and business materials and offers marketing services, graphic design, and résumé writing. When she’s not trying to balance family and her business, she enjoys (in no particular order): Jazzercize, yoga, crafting, horseback riding, way too much coffee, and hiking. Sam is also a melanoma survivor and a passionate advocate of skin cancer and sun safety education and awareness.