Christmas is over, folks — We did it. Whether or not you got all those decorations out of the attic, whether or not your mother caused your eye to start twitching, whether or not you were up until 3 a.m. Christmas Eve putting together that train table, Christmas 2018 is in the books.

It’s okay to be a little sad that it’s over. It’s okay to be a little relieved that we are back to just trying to keep the children alive, happily fed and in clean underwear. And now that the last of the cookies have been consumed and the tree is on the curb, you may be wondering what’s next What can I do to help me through the rest of the dark, cold, dreary, wet winter? Here are a few suggestions:

Clean Slate: Take advantage of that new year energy and purge your house. You will feel so much better being in a house that is not cluttered and disorganized.

Minimalism is very “in” right now, and you can find a large variety of articles, books, YouTube channels, even Netflix shows on the topic. Choose a few tips that work for you and make your house a place that you don’t mind being stuck in for the next few months.

And may I suggest waiting until your children are sleeping/at school/at grandma’s before tackling their rooms? It’s amazing how quickly the toy they have not touched in a year suddenly becomes their favorite once they spot you trying to donate it.

Light it up: Before you take down all those Christmas lights, consider leaving up a few for the winter. I’m not talking about the outside ones that will anger your neighbors (although you do you) but it is amazing how much a few strands of white twinkle lights can keep things feeling cheery and magical in the dark afternoons and evenings.

Also, invest in some candles, or pull ones that you’ve forgotten about out of the hall closet; the flicker of candlelight makes everything seem warmer and more inviting. If you are sensitive to smell, there are plenty of unscented options and beeswax candles have been proven to actually clean the air. Even a macaroni and cheese dinner feels fancy with candlelight (or at least that’s what I tell myself).

Go green: While I wait for the first signs of spring flowers to start popping up, I tend to get a bit impatient. Now is a great time to treat yourself to a few new houseplants and bring the green of spring indoors.

Even if you have a black thumb (I have been known to kill succulents regularly) the month of enjoyment they give you before they reach their doom will do wonders for your bleak winter spirit. The Master Gardeners at the OSU Extension Services office would be a great place for tips on indoor plants.

Or invest in a few fake plants instead. You don’t have to water them and they are less likely to be destroyed by your toddler who, for example, may like to dig in the dirt and lick it off their hands. But that’s a story for another time.

Embrace the cozy: Bring out the blankets. Mix up some hot chocolate. Get yourself some cozy pajamas. Read a good book, or let your kids watch more screens than they usually do. Before you know it, it will be summer and we will be going to parks and swimming lessons and fishing and long walks.

Embrace this time of dark stillness. The cozy warmth of your home contrasted by the wet cold outside. Take a breath and a warm bath before the busy explosion of spring begins.

Caitlin Harris is a Portland native who now happily lives in Douglas County with her husband and five boys. She enjoys gardening, reading and snuggling her boys.

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