If you’re not looking forward to the months of slipping on ice and defrosting your car each morning, you aren’t alone—it’s hard to think of the ever-approaching winter season if you‘re not a fan of the cold or wet weather! Despite this disdain (or perhaps because of it), it’s actually vital that you start thinking about the days of grey skies and snowplows early.

By preparing yourself for winter well in advance of the solstice, you’ll be better able to handle the less-than-enjoyable parts of the season, with more room for ice skating, snowman building, and whatever other wintery aspects you enjoy.

Understand what you’re in for

Winter comes around every year, but its exact circumstances change with each reappearance. Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city and are facing different weather conditions than you’re used to. Your warmer former home didn’t even need a heating system, but now it will be critical through the wintery months.

You’ll want to learn to recognize signs that your home needs a prompt heat pump repair and schedule regular maintenance on that heat pump and your HVAC system more broadly. Otherwise, you’ll kick yourself when your furnace has issues in the middle of a February storm and you suddenly need to either pay for a replacement or put on an extra jacket, even while indoors.

At the very least, take a few minutes to think back to winters past and remind yourself of what you’re going up against.

Ensure your environment is up to the task

Maybe you haven’t moved, but your space needs to meet different needs than it has in the past. You may have had a baby and will have to adjust to handling an infant through cold fronts and snow squalls at home and on the go. Do some research and consult other parents to determine how you might best handle baby’s first winter.

For some, this might mean seeking out the best humidifier for babies to avoid dry skin, congestion, a sore throat and other cold symptoms that a child-friendly cool-mist humidifier can prevent in young children. Or, you might simply need to find a good snowsuit and warm booties that your little one can’t kick off into the slush.

Refresh your wardrobe

Found the perfect snowsuit for your baby or toddler? Make sure you’re ready to build a snowman or take them to Christmas dinner at your parents’ with the right additions to your closet, too. In warmer climates, more lightweight jackets for women will be plenty to stay warm and be perfectly stylish in the process.

Cold weather areas will likely want a heavier coat, opting for a cozy snow-bunny look. Even if you aren’t planning on adding to your winter wardrobe, you’ll want to go through your existing pieces and ensure nothing needs to be repaired or replaced—the last thing you want to deal with is finding a hole in the fabric of your coat or snow boots when the driveway needs to be shoveled out.

Be prepared for cold and flu season

In the US, colds are most frequent from late August through early April, a rather lengthy eight-month period. Rates of the flu, then, peak between December and February. Of course, you can face either diagnosis any time of year and, after the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re likely better prepared than in years past.

However, take a few minutes to make sure you have some essentials at hand (like cold medication, cough drops, other treatments, and plenty of tissues) and take precautions like washing your hands well, getting a flu shot, or regulating the moist air in your home.

Find ways to get excited

If you live for snow days, excitement over the upcoming season might be a given. If not, you might be struggling to think about turning on your home’s furnace, staying indoors to avoid icy conditions, or even facing a condition like seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

However, there’s almost certainly some component of the season that brings you joy. Maybe it’s curling up under cozy blankets and sipping hot cocoa while the snow falls outside your window.

It might be the sheer glee on your little one’s face when they see flurries or the way icicles glisten off the trees. Even if it’s something as simple as enjoying holiday cookies, remembering the aspects of winter you like can help you to be more excited about the season ahead.

Think up ways to make winter worry-free

If you’ve been following along, you’ve tackled must-do winter tasks like adding a humidifier to you or your baby’s room, preventing illnesses with vaccines and other healthy habits, maintaining your home’s furnace, and even making sure your wardrobe is winter-ready. At this point, you can set aside some time to think of ways to make this season even easier. For example, maybe you always struggle to get to the garage for your shovel and rock salt before you begin clearing the sidewalks after a storm.

Consider whether you can keep a shovel and a small container of rock salt closer to your door to optimize the ease of cleaning up after Mother Nature. Ask yourself: what irritants have bothered me in winters past? Then, imagine ways you can prevent that same issue this year, or research what others have done to prevent it.

From the moisture in the air to the clothing you wear, it’s never too early to start preparing for winter. By doing some research and taking precautions well in advance, you’ll be ready for the first storm of the season and better able to enjoy all of winter’s best qualities.