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The Winter 2020 Blues: 5 Completely Crazy Cures (and actual Real Estate Tips)

Every year we hear or read about the “winter blues.” From talk show hosts to mental health professionals, everyone seems to worry about how to cope with shorter days, sun deprivation, cold weather, and kids being home for the extended holiday break — to say nothing of the unwelcome political and social debates that can ruin a good family dinner. The cure, they say, is getting out and about with the community during daylight hours, finding comfort in quality time with the family, Vitamin D pills, exercise, and a good diet.

This year, the majority of our nation suffered from a variation of the winter blues for most of the year. Now we‘re just facing an even lower dip in morale. Days are shorter and the weather is colder now, but otherwise we’ve mostly been hibernating all year with limited socialization and kids either at home full time or in and out of public school with no notice. Many people faced joblessness and economic hardships too.

The normally prescribed cures won’t work this year. Social distancing is advised more strongly than ever. PA is ordering restaurant and gym closures again. We have no control over when the kids go to school. And we’ve been having more quantity/less quality time with the family for the last 9 months. But before you cancel all your holiday plans and hide Frosty in the basement, here are 5 completely off the wall suggestions for coping this winter season. Will they work? I don’t know, maybe... but you sure could have some fun along the way.

  1. Become an Expert in the Obscure- Focus some of that nervous energy into becoming an expert on something. Udemy and TedX offer low-cost courses on a range of subjects like cooking, writing, crafts, aromatherapy and leadership. But if nothing there catches your interest, think about something that lights a spark. Maybe you like Robin Hood, Pride and Prejudice, jets, fishing... get online and learn whatever you can about medieval times, Regency literature, aircraft or tying flies.

  2. Alone Time Scavenger Hunt- With so much family time this year, some people are yearning for "me time." This is a great solution if you have kids and you want to get some time to yourself. Make a dozen scavenger hunt clues. They don’t have to make sense. Hide them around an area of your house. You sit in another area doing whatever you want and give a kid one clue. Tell them there’s a prize at the end if they find all the clues without your help. Sit back and enjoy at least an hour of uninterrupted time to yourself. After all, one clue doesn't logically lead to the next. Meditate or put in some earbuds and watch a movie. Just make sure you have a prize to give them when they find all the clues or eventually give up!

  3. Build a Grown-Up Fort- This can be as simple as some pillows in the closet where you can hide with your phone and some earbuds, or as complicated as rearranging your furniture. Bottom line is, shaking it up inside the house to make a little den for yourself can be comforting and the change can be inspiring. It can help you to look at things from a different perspective. Plus, if you do have kids, you can get them involved and they'll think you're the coolest.

  4. Become a Stand-Up Comedian- Learn some new jokes. Make up your own. Get the family involved - you can all learn to be funny again. Then, there are two ways to put this to good use. 1) Do an open mic night for the whole family, complete with hecklers. Well, maybe don't heckle your five year-old. We know they don't have good jokes, but they're also pretty sensitive about it. 2) For an entire day, annoy your family by only responding to them in jokes. If laughter is the best medicine, pestering your loved ones while you laugh must be even better!

  5. Plan a Party- Think about what you want to do when this is over. Wouldn't it be great to have a huge party with your friends and extended family? Before things get super busy again and you're shuttling off from meetings to soccer practices to picking the kids up from band and play dates, you can use this time to plan exactly what the party should look like! Who will you invite? What will be the entertainment? You could organize a scavenger hunt for them, tell them some jokes, and show off your newfound expertise in Regency literature and fly fishing!

And, if you're looking to sell your home this winter, don't despair. While it's true that winter is normally the slow season for real estate, I anticipate that this year will continue to be busy! National Association of Realtors® chief economist Lawrence Yun recently said that "[in a] Winter-to-winter comparison, this should be one of the best. Pending contracts are higher. Mortgage applications are up roughly 20%. There are plenty of buyers in the pipeline." And this appears to be true. Homes are selling as quickly as they're listed, and buyers are busy lining up for new listings! Just remember a few things if you're listing your home during the winter:

  1. Keep walkways clear and clean.

  2. Avoid holiday decorations that could be seen as too personal or cluttered. We all love our own homes to be full of love and personal touches during the holiday season, but buyers prefer a more neutral backdrop to envision how they might decorate. Some greens, lights, etc. is fine. But maybe don't put the 10 foot tall Frosty on the roof this year.

  3. Make sure that the indoor temperature is comfortable. Everyone has their own personal preference, mostly engrained from years of fathers yelling at us not to touch the thermostat. But typically around 70 degrees is a good temperature. You want to make sure the buyer isn't chilled (so they know the heat works well), but also not so warm that they feel they need to remove their coat.

Well, that's it for today. This is my penultimate 2020 post, so look for just one more before we ring in 2021!

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