10 things every cottager should do with their free day this February

Cozy fire

Whoever decided that we should all get a long weekend in February truly understood that there’s a reason this is the shortest month of the year—it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s dreary, and spring is still very far away. Of course we all need a break!

So yes—you have a free day. What do you plan to do with it? If you’re a cottager, we have some suggestions.

Walk the perimeter of your property

Yes, we know it’s winter. Yes, we know it’s cold. Suck it up and get some natural light, already. You’ll feel your mood lift—and if you bundle up properly, you won’t even notice that it’s nippy. Pack a thermos full of hot chocolate, pull on your warm boots, and take a look around your property. You’ll get a walk in, but you’ll also be able to check for fallen trees and any other issues while you’re at it.

Build a skating rink

OK, this might take a couple of days—but if your cottage is on a lake, this is your opportunity to build a skating rink (just make sure it’s been cold enough to freeze solidly). Shovel off every single piece of snow, flood the surface (it helps if you have running water, but it’s totally doable if you don’t) and let nature do its work. For more detailed instructions, check out our article on keeping your rink smooth.

Do some indoor maintenance

You aren’t going to want to be stuck indoors when the weather gets warmer, so take this opportunity to do some indoor maintenance. Fix that sticky closet door, repaint the bathroom, scrub the grout, patch the holes in the curtains—anything that you won’t want to deal with once summer rolls around.

Do some outdoor work too

Yes, outdoor maintenance lets up a little in the winter, but there’s still work to be done. Clear snow away from your foundations (if you’ve got them)— snow turns into meltwater, and the less water close to the house, the better. If they’re not large and your roof isn’t high, clear any ice dams from your gutter—but save this work for pros if you can’t budge the ice easily with a shovel. Check out your roof and clear away any snow and ice from your vents. (Again, be safe!)

Check your furnace filter

If you’ve got pets, or don’t dust quite as often as you probably should, your furnace filter might be well and truly gunked up. Check it to see if it needs cleaning or replacing—your lungs will thank you!

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

The guideline is to change your smoke and CO detectors every time you change the clocks, but it’s worth testing them more often than that—especially the ones that don’t go off every time you cook bacon. And even if your cottage is completely electric, don’t skip having CO alarms—the odourless, colourless vapour can seep in from an attached garage or a backup generator used too close to the house. While you’re at it, check the pressure gauge on your fire extinguisher. If the needle’s on the green zone, it’s still good.

Tackle a fun chore

Do you have photos that need to be scrapbooked? CDs that should be uploaded to your computer? Gather the family and make a day of it with special food, fun music, and lots of breaks for goofing around. Even cleaning out the closets can be fun if you play dress-up and take funny pictures along the way.

Pretend it’s summer

OK, so swimming might not be possible (or at least not comfortable)—but there’s always (ice) fishing, (winter) camping, (snowshoe) hiking, and (snowy) campfires. Heck, if you’ve got a tarp and a thermos, you can even have a winter picnic. Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside!

Try something brand new

Go dog sledding. Go ice climbing. Check out a skating trail or try snowkiting (yes, that’s a thing). Or, if you feel like staying indoors, go to an unfamiliar museum, or try a new activity—we hear axe throwing is very popular.

Sit outside at night and appreciate the stars

Clear winter nights are perfect for stargazing, so find a comfy outdoor chair, sit back, and enjoy the view. Cover your flashlight’s beam with brown or red paper to help preserve your night vision. Check out site for up-to-date star maps of the Northern Hemisphere, or download an astronomy app onto your smartphone.

How are you going to spend Family Day?