I don’t know if it’s because we live in a holiday-destination, or if it’s because we spend us much time out and about between Easter and the end of the summer holidays, but by the time everyone is posting ‘back to school’ pictures on Facebook, I’m about ready to take two or three weeks off, and spend most of that time catching up on laundry and repacking all the kitchenware! We love summer on the Isle of Wight, and can go a full week barely seeing our house in daylight. It’s a wonderful life, I won’t lie, but by the end of summer, we are in severe need of maintenance.
As the evenings draw in and we spend a bit more time at home, here are six ways to prepare for the colder months and get things ‘straightened out’, ready for next year:
Cancel summer subscriptions
A lot of our summer activities come from annual subscriptions or short term subscriptions. If you know you’re not going to be doing something as much over the winter, cancel those subscriptions. We don’t visit the local attractions much over the winter, so even though the sign-up fee is a little higher per month if we take a shorter ‘contract’, over the year it’s quite a bit less. This especially applies to rolling memberships, like for the local pool. The girls hate coming out of the pool in the winter months, so we barely go. No point paying the £15-or so a month on membership when we can always sign up again next Spring, and use that money for something warmer and cozier, like Netflix!
Pack away summer
I find this one a little depressing and a little ‘final’, but actually, after the last camping trip, repacking the camping kit, replacing anything that needs replacing, streamlining to remove things you took along but didn’t actually need, and putting all the gear away clean and ready for next year is quite a lovely thing to do. It gives you chance to improve your kit while it’s still fresh in your memory, and there’s no major unpleasant discoveries when you’re heading out the door next summer – like the year I opened up the camping kitchen and found the leftover breakfast rolls from our last trip almost a year before still in it. Yummy.
I also find this is a great time to pack away the beach gear, again, replacing broken things when they’re all in the end of season sales rather than full price next season. We have a beach box that lives in the boot of the car, but over the winter we need that space for the wet weather clothing, spare wellies, and extra coats and jumpers I tend to carry in the car as someone inevitably will leave the house without something at some point!
This is absolutely boring and tedious, but the start of winter is a good time to look through your bank statement and make sure you’re not paying out for things you don’t need or didn’t even know you signed up for. It’s also a good time to check your utility bills and make sure you’re getting the best rates. Our gas bill goes up hugely over the winter, so making sure you’re with the most suitable provider is just smart. See if there are any new customer bonuses or other advantages to switching – visit this site for great information on switching suppliers.
Make the house cosy
We do tend to spend more time at home when it’s colder out – I’m a Southern Hemisphere girl. I wasn’t made for these temperatures! – so having a cosy space at home is really important to me, especially when we have days of no sunshine! Look at things like draught excluders, or the plastic sheets you can stick to your windows when you don’t have double glazing. Bring out fluffy blankets and plush rugs and cushions. Create a reading nook that’s warm and inviting, pop some candles in the bathroom, invest in a freestanding hammock so you can chase the sun around the house on lazy Saturdays. Make home somewhere you want to be.
Get the car ready
This is my least favourite one, because it inevitably costs money, but it costs less to replace a flat tyre than it does to have to first have the car towed somewhere to replace the tyre! Make sure the car is winter-ready. Put water in the wiper bit, anti-freeze in the anti-freeze thing, make sure you have a scraper for when there are ice and snow about. If you drive long distances or in remote areas, check there’s a thermal blanket, water and some snacks in the boot should you need them. Chances are you never will, but if you did you’ll be glad you have them! Peace of mind – especially when you’re driving with kids in the car – is worth it’s weight in gold.
Prepare your winter war chest
That’s going to mean different things to different people. My kids respond really well to some natural remedies, so I make sure I have them in the medicine box before winter starts. Nothing worse than being poorly and having to wait two days for delivery (I live on an Island) or worse, having to drag your sick and miserable self (and children) to the shops to buy things you could have had in the ‘war chest’. Have a supply of echinacea (not if you’re pregnant) and elderberry syrup and whatever else works for you. Being sick as a single parent is the pits, so if I have to have some Lemsip, I’d rather it was already in the cupboard! With any luck I won’t need it and might have to replace the box when it expires in a couple of years, but if not… it’s money well spent!
These are all fairly simple steps that can make the coming months so much better. Having certain jobs ‘done’ means they’re off your mind and out the way, and having other pre-emptive jobs done means if you need it, life’s that little bit simpler!