There’s something different about February compared to all the other months. It’s almost like the country is holding it’s breath.
February is a time of making decisions about change. Jobs, relationships, houses and ourselves. The holidays and Christmas crazies are over. We have had a break and sometimes things we have put up with or put off are just no longer acceptable.
New routines are established, at work, home and school and there’s a whole year ahead of us. A whole year to plan and do anything we want…
When February is gone and autumn shows it’s delicious colours, it’s time to think about how we live, inside our homes. There’s a slow retreat from outdoors to the cosiness of roaring fires, early nights and bottled sunshine glowing from our windows.
I’ve lived in warm and wet Auckland for 45 of my 50 years so preparing for winter seems unnecessary if all we do is pull out a jumper and the heater and maybe change the bedding. But it could be more than that.
Why not start a series of autumn rituals? Over the next few weeks we have the opportunity to design our autumn experience and plan for a winter of home pleasures and fun.
The simple things I remember as a child are my mother and I bringing the firewood closer to the house and stacking it near the back door so it would stay dry. She would get the chimney cleaned and start looking at soup recipes. Puzzles and board games would be unearthed and the dust blown away. Being a mad knitter, jumpers would spring from her needles and she’d talk of snowy English winters.
In the South Island autumn and winter preparations are far more rigorous than here in Auckland but we do still have the opportunity to prepare our home for blowy, wet, chilly short days.
After a long hot dry summer of trying to keep cool there’s likely to be a build up of things around the house that we’ve been too hot to deal with or shortly will not be needed.
Autumn Tidy Up.
This season between the summer heat and nippy cold is the perfect opportunity to start your decluttering for winter. Make your Autumn Tidy Up a yearly event. Each March or April start to think about how you would like your living areas to feel and be lived in over the coming colder months. Are they full of piles of stuff covered in dust? Mountains of toys? Is your cosy study so crammed you can barely get to your desk? Are there 72 mugs, scattered around the house? Start slowly, you have heaps of time!
- Choose one small area to tackle at a time.
- Get three bags as big or small as you need: 1 for rehoming, 1 for donations, 1 for recycling
- Set a time limit for this little task, 15 minutes, an hour, whatever you can manage. Set an alarm to give you a timeframe. Your aim is to fill those bags, or at least one of them.
- Start with one item, pick it up and decide if it would serve you better if it was somewhere else.
- Move quickly, don’t ponder for too long. Our initial instincts are usually pretty accurate.
- When your time is up take the three bags away from the area you are tidying up. Put the donations bag in your car, empty the recycling bag into your big bin, put all the items in the rehoming bag in the place they belong.
Repeat this process as often as you can, scheduling it if necessary to make sure it gets done.
Prepare Your Storage.
Now is the time to sort through your summer stuff and store it safely for next year. Start soon, and it will be done soon.
- Dispose of broken goggles, torn or damaged camping gear, past-their-best sports shoes. Leave only the good stuff for next year and replace what you know you will need.
- Find appropriately sized bins to store clean and dry summer sports equipment and swimming gear.
- If you are storage space challenged look for under-bed storage bags or boxes for summer clothes or dust covers, portable wardrobes or good old Sistema boxes to keep them clean and dust free.
- Start packing away summer clothes, or reorganise your wardrobe or drawers so the current seasons clothes are easier to access.
- Install shelving or racks for boogie boards, cricket gear, beach umbrellas.
I am bursting with delight for a new client of mine called Sarah who is taking 2019 to refurbish her house, declutter and organise it, to make her and her family’s home life better. She’s lived in her house since her last baby was born 5 1/2 years ago, now she has a dog, two busy little boys, a husband who works away from home for months and in-laws staying half of the year.
Now her boys are bigger she can dedicate some time and energy to making her house work for her and not worry quite so much about spills on the carpet and scribbles on the walls. She is the main carer and keeper of the house as well as working outside her home. She is OVER the inefficient kitchen, overflowing home hub and overwhelming clutter in the playroom. She wants a thorough clear out of family clutter, new practical storage and a fresh interior.
It’s time! It’s a huge job, when I wrote up the timeline of everything that needs to be done and when, it looked daunting but it’s easily broken down into manageable chunks and also it’s so EXCITING!
What would make 2019 or just this coming winter better for YOU? A modern stylish gas fire? Refreshing the paint inside the house? New curtains perhaps? This is an investment in your happiness and wellbeing!
- Try changing your soft accessories in your living areas and bedrooms. Change cushion covers to warmer colours, swap the cotton throw for a luxurious fluffy one. Wash and store your summer covers for next year.
- If you feel the cold maybe you’d like new sets of brushed cotton or microfibre sheets. Make your bed a cosy nest for those long dark nights.
- Invest in new bedroom furniture, maybe all you need is new bedside tables to hold your books and hot chocolate or wine.
- A new rug in gorgeous colours can transform a room, imagine wriggling your toes in the soft pile.
- Change your light bulbs to warm white. Cool white can be harsh and ummmm… cool.
- Is your bathroom cold? It can be a misery getting up on a cold, dark morning. Make it a little more comfortable for yourself, install a heater or heat lamps in the ceiling, a heated towel rack for lovely warm dry fluffy towels or Think Big and install underfloor heating before you need it.
Whether you are wrangling a family or living the single life there are lots of lovely things you can do for yourself and your family to make autumn and winter something to look forward to. Take a moment to think about the things you used to enjoy in the chillier seasons when you were young. Lets do them now!
- Make one day a week or a month a regular games night. Get friends and family involved and have treats, snacks and warm drinks to make it a special night.
- Put your slow cooker somewhere convenient and start looking for recipes that you can try or you love. Imagine the delicious smell as you walk in the door and it’s so much easier to make dinner!
- Get outside. Arrange walks with family or friends to special places. It’s not so hot and it doesn’t rain every day… Bundle up with your absolute favourite soft scarves and gloves (after you’ve decluttered them!).
- Have winter picnics. Fish and chips on the beach or special treats brought from home, eaten in the car after a wild chilly day can be fun.
- Line up winter activities like visiting museums, skiing weekends, baking sessions, weekend cafe brunches or midwinter Christmas dinners.
Rituals like these are purposeful, pleasurable habits that create memories, bring comfort, structure and familiarity. Our busy modern lives are often lacking these things as we race from one thing to another or struggle find peace and calm.
If you have any other ideas for making Autumn and Winter more fun, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.
Counting the blessings of sunny days and saving them up for winter.