Rugged up … and motivated

Picture of Kate Moriarty

Kate Moriarty

Kate is a writer, author and mother of six

Times are tight and winter is cold, especially in the southern states. How do we keep the family warm without breaking the bank? There are, of course, lots of boring but important things you can do to keep warm in winter.

Plug draughts. Let the sunshine in. Insulate. Double-glaze. Wear two pairs of socks. But what if we go beyond the obvious and sensible measures? Let’s look at some slightly-batty-but-definitely-fun ways that families can stay warm on the cheap.


A Sure-Fire Method

Stoke up a woodfire. Do you have a fireplace at home or an outdoor fire pit? Winter is the perfect time to kindle a blaze. A woodfire is warmth and entertainment all-in-one. You might like to try roasting chestnuts, baking potatoes, cooking damper, toasting marshmallows, or just snuggle up and stare at the flames.


Souped-up and ready to go

Winter is soup weather. Paired with fresh, crusty bread, cheesy scones, buttered English muffins or even nachos (don’t knock it till you try it!), a hearty bowl of soup is a meal in itself. Many cultures have soup as part of their cuisine, which means there are so many varieties to experiment with. When soup is on the menu for dinner, it can be a good night to try out more substantial desserts, like puddings and pies.



Heating is expensive! Get out of the house and steal someone else’s climate control! You would be amazed at how many interesting activities are hosted by your local library. As well as the classic plan of curling up on a couch with a good book or today’s newspaper, you might find craft circles, author talks, Lego clubs or photography workshops.


There are other places you can escape to as well. But I don’t count hanging out in shopping centres or Swedish furniture barns as ‘affordable activities’ – I always end up buying heaps of stuff!


Give it the Flicks

When it’s miserable outside, it’s a good time to have a cosy movie night, or even a movie day. You can watch a new release, rediscover an old favourite, or have a slide night, with family photos screened on the TV. Get out extra blankets and pillows, make a big batch of popcorn, and settle in. By the way, if you do this several days in a row, you are not lazy, you are hosting a film festival! 


Right as Rain

Don’t be scared of the weather. Dress up warmly and walk in the rain. In Norway, they say “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!” which translates to “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!” You might not feel like it, but it will always do you good to get out in nature. And after a good old-fashioned stomp through the puddles, it feels awesome to have a hot shower or bath and get cosy again. You may ask ‘how is getting out in the rain a way to keep warm in winter?’ Let me tell you, after an afternoon of tramping about in the mud, you will feel so warm afterwards by comparison!


Now You’re Cooking!

Nothing warms up the house and fills it with good smells like a day of baking. Biscuits, slices, home-made bread, lunchbox snacks. Winter is the time to meditate over the mixing bowl.


If you want to be even more organised, you could consider spending a few hours batch-cooking. This involves doing all the cooking for the week (or month, if you’re super-organised) on the one day. When I cook ahead, I like to organise my food into ‘freezer files’. I take large and sturdy snap-lock bags, fill them with food (soup, mince, casserole, curry), and squeeze out the air. Then I seal them and lay them flat on a tray to freeze. Once frozen, they can stand upright, like files. I have been known to keep a magazine file holder in my freezer to keep these food files. Label the strip at the top of the ziplock back with the food and the date – don’t skip this step and think you’ll remember what it is. You won’t remember.



Exercise your Better Judgement

After you fill your home with delicious things, you might need to get moving. Exercise is a great way to keep warm and boost your immune system against winter viruses. Try parkrun. A timed free run held at parks across Australia, New Zealand and beyond, parkrun welcomes walkers and is available every Saturday of the year, regardless of (most) weather. There are also many exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. Try Pilates, aerobics, hybrid callisthenics, or simple weightlifting.


Put it to Bed

Make your bed super cosy with fresh sheets, hot water bottles or wheat bags, weighted blankets and linen spray (it’s like perfume for your sheets. I have some but I always forget to use it). My favourite thing is to be ‘triple clean’. It’s simple and luxurious but it takes a bit of co-ordination. To be ‘triple clean’ is to have a bath or shower at the end of the day (bonus points if you use the nice soap), climb into freshly laundered pyjamas or nightie, and then get into a bed with fresh sheets. Pair this with a good book on your bedside table and it is next-level luxury.



Happy wintering everybody! I hope you stay warm and well.

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