Mother and child sitting by a glass door and looking at the winter scene outside


When Mom Hates Winter, What’s a Kid to Do?

Jan 11, 2019

This piece was written before 2020, when the world changed.

The days are slowly getting longer again and there is no one more excited about this than I am. There is also no one dreading the upcoming winter months more than I am.

Hyperbole aside, I despise winter. Maybe it’s that I spent a formative bit of my childhood in Florida. Maybe it’s that I have broken my wrist not once, but twice falling on the ice and am petrified of slick sidewalks as a result (one fall was during my only attempt at cross-country skiing on a sixth grade “pioneer camp” excursion, the other walking after a storm during high school). Maybe it’s that the cold and the layering aggravate my chronic pain. Whatever the reason — and there are many — I just can’t handle it.

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This was bad enough before becoming a parent, but there is a whole new level of it that plays out parenting a school-aged kid. My kid, now eight, didn’t go tobogganing until last winter. We haven’t had a yard since she was in preschool, so I’ve gotten around snowmen and forts that way. She learned to skate at a calm neighbourhood rink that rents skates, and happened to pick it up quickly enough to go with friends for the most part. Her current school takes the kids out to a small nearby skating trail, so she now goes with them.

But I can tell you that come Groundhog Day, whether there’s a shadow to be seen or not, spring could not come soon enough — and that’s likely to be a standing thing in our home.

But there’s only so many ways one can avoid winter in Canada. In summer, we rarely eat a meal inside and spend our days at parks, beaches and pools — with camping and hikes when we can make it happen. I’m into being outdoors when it’s warm. But I’m definitely more of a hot-cider-and-movies person as far as winter activities go.

The dread sets in when back-to-school stuff hits store shelves, and I resign myself to it by the time Halloween is over. But come late December, that official first day of winter always hits hard. Sure, the days are getting lighter, eventually — but this is just the beginning?

I’ll admit to myself that I think my winter-hating is completely unfair to my kid who prefers summer by far, but isn’t as opposed to winter as I am and even finds some joy in it. I read somewhere that if you’re a parent who hates math, you can’t tell your kid this so you don’t make them anxious just because you are. Is this a catch-all or specific to numbers? I wonder this sometimes when I’ve been gratuitous about my aversion and feel guilty.

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More and more, I’m trying to do my best to keep the extremes out of how I talk about this stuff in front of my kid. I try to encourage her to participate in winter fun where she can and will do all the arranging necessary to not have to be there. I’ve signed her up for winter PA day camps and let her experience things like snowshoeing that way. And — though this one is rare — I’ll get out and play in the snow if we can do it somewhere pretty outside of the city. I’ll even “skate” (hold onto the rink wall with skates on my feet) a couple times a year, on days when the rink also does a cheap community dinner night and I know there’s an end in sight.

I’m trying, little by little, to hold in my crankiness when I can. But I can tell you that come Groundhog Day, whether there’s a shadow to be seen or not, spring could not come soon enough — and that’s likely to be a standing thing in our home. Please hope that my kid doesn’t take up some kind of audience-demanding winter sport, OK?

Article Author Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Read more from Tara-Michelle here.

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She’s a queer single mom to a 7.5-year-old. She’s overshared about her daughter for Today’s Parent, Bunch Family, Baby Post and various other print and digital publications. She’s also a poet (her kid says “of sad books”) and book reviewer (for Publisher’s Weekly, The Canadian Children’s Book News and more). You can find her on Twitter @therealrealtmz.

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