Planning for a COVID-19 Winter


We’re five months into the COVID-19 pandemic and there are no signs of it going away any time soon. (Related: wear your masks, please! It’s a simple, scientifically supported solution for slowing the spread).

One of the things that has made COVID isolation somewhat bearable is that socializing and recreating outdoors is relatively low-risk (provided you are taking precautions).

But what happens when we can’t be outside anymore?

Research has shown that indoor activities carry a much higher risk level than outdoor activities. In addition, many people are not taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously at all. These factors, combined with a typical increase in winter illnesses, are very concerning.

Even during the best of times my mental health suffers during the cold, dark winter months. With outdoor activities and socializing limited or gone, how are we going to handle our first COVID-19 winter? How can we balance safety and our mental health as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop?

These questions have been weighing on my mind as we get closer to fall and winter.

Planning ahead and adjusting expectations will be key. Some things to think about include:

Leaning Into The Hygge Philosophy

In a nutshell, Hygge is a frame of mind that celebrates coziness and contentment. Think about the ways you can create a sense of coziness and connection in your home when the days get shorter and colder. Are there ways you can reorganize your home for maximize a feeling of warmth and security? Simple things like warm blankets, fuzzy socks, twinkle lights, electric candles, family game nights, and warm foods and beverages can make a big difference.

Learn to Love the Cold

This is a tough one for me. Being outdoors has been one of the only things keeping me sane these last few months and I’m dreading the colder temps, snow, ice, and the darkness that comes with the winter season. While I’m not a fan of being outside when it’s cold, recreating outdoors can be beautiful and fun during winter. Think about things that can make being outside in the cold easier or more bearable. Outdoor heaters? Fire bowls? Better shoes for walking on snow/ice? Warmer protective gear? In addition, there’s a number of fun family activities to do in the snow. Sledding, ice skating, snow forts — all of these things and more can make magical winter memories.

Setting Expectations for Holidays

Extended family gatherings can be dangerous for spreading COVID-19. As such, the holidays might look different this year. Though these changes in tradition may feel disappointing, they are necessary to keep your family safe. You might feel pressure from your kids and extended family to make an exception for the holidays. Start by setting expectations early, and stand firm in your decision. The big Thanksgiving meal at Grandma’s house may not happen this year, but are there new traditions you can adopt? Start thinking now about how you can make magical, memorable holiday experiences that are safe for your entire family.

So many unknowns remain with COVID-19. Planning ahead and managing expectations (and wearing a mask!) can help keep everyone safe and healthy.

Meghann is the mom of 5 kids. She is a Lecturer at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an Owner/Partner at Brand Driven Digital. Meghann was elected to the Coralville City Council in 2017 and is currently serving her first term. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Coralville Community Food Pantry (Vice-Chair) and on the DVIP Board of Directors. She is also a member of Johnson County's Juvenile Justice and Youth Development Policy Board. Meghann is passionate about her family, her community, and is a proud pop culture nerd.


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