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We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Beat the winter doldrums with these 5 tips

"Statistics vary, but 20 percent of Americans suffer from SAD or a lesser condition that Michael Terman, a leading researcher on seasonal disorders, calls the winter doldrums. Another 30 percent will experience one or more SAD symptoms, which include winter weight gain, a craving for sweet or starchy foods, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, avoidance of social situations, oversleeping and a heavy feeling in the arms or legs. Seasonal disorders occur more often in northern climates and affect women more than men says Terman, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and founder of the nonprofit Center for Environmental Therapeutics."

This excerpt from an article entitled, How to fire up employees during the post-holiday gloom by Matt Bolch, popped on Google when I was looking for ways to combat my own winter doldrums. Although the findings are relevant to us living in the Northeast, it's not necessarily news. In fact, a good number of my neighbors, friends and colleagues here in the Saratoga community accept that they will inevitably succumb to the winter doldrums this winter. Not mentioned in the article are children. I can personally attest to seeing at least some of these symptoms in my son. At a minimum, our household is officially suffering from cabin fever.

On this first day of February, I thoughts I'd share a few personal strategies to help families survive cabin fever:

  1. Don't forget the kitchen when looking for projects to cure the winter doldrums. The last time we were snowed in, my son and I made Dark Chocolate and Oat Clusters that were as fun to make as they were to eat. Find this healthy treat recipe here from
  2. Make sure the family's snow gear is accessible at all times so you can relieve the pressure of boredom or mania at any given moment. You don't want to spend 20 minutes searching for snow pants or a renegade boot (been there). The sun is still the best way to get your Vitamin D, so bundle up (sunscreen up if you're going to be out for a while) and get out there and play!
  3. Board games, especially interactive games (no, not Wii) like Twister make for afternoon fun and big laughs. Twister also counts as exercise for adults and helps kids burn off excess energy when house bound.
  4. Make cleaning up fun. Buy dollar store toys and have them on hand as prizes for cleaning games: Who can match the most socks, who can clean their room the fastest, who can finish their chores first. For little ones, you can give prizes for a completed alphabet or counting to 10 in Spanish.
  5. Reading together. Prepare some hot cocoa and a light snack to share. Then ask each family member to grab their favorite book(s) and join you on the couch. Quiet contemplation and good old fashion snuggling is a necessary sanity check on snow days and long winter weekends.

My personal goal this season is to beat the winter doldrums and embrace the fun and closeness it brings for our family. Sure winter's a little unpredictable, but you can't control mother nature. Just like mom, mother nature likes it that way.

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