How to start preparing now for a numbingly cold Chicago winter

Chicago woke up this week to the news that not only is the annual Farmer’s Almanac still a thing, but it is a thing people pay attention to. This special 200th anniversary edition contains some overdue news: the Midwest (including Chicago) is in for a ‘numbingly cold’ winter this year, or, as we used to call it before Global Warming, a winter.

In the wake of some relatively mild winters, we may need a little extra preparation this year to get our winter groove back. While you’re still soaking in those warm sunshine rays like the reptiles we secretly are, here are some steps Chicago parents (and non-parents!) can take now.

Prep your dibs

Unfamiliar with dibs? Well, friends, allow me to explain. You see, many Chicagoans park their cars on the street. When it snows, digging your car out of a few feet of snow is a horrific endeavor that takes time, energy and a cursing vocabulary canon that would make George Carlin blush. It is a completely undocumented-anywhere-but-understood-everywhere “rule” that once you have unearthed your vehicle from the snow and ice that placing some sort of large item–classically lawn furniture–in your dug-out spot entitles you to return to that spot without anyone else taking it. You call “dibs” on your parking spot. Don’t believe me? Check out this tumblr dedicated to clever and crazy dibs shenanigans around Chicago.

My suggestion for this winter is instead of storing your lawn furniture away, only to realize in January you’ll need it again, is to keep it out and prepare it fully. Laminate some notes about “dibs” you can tape to the seat back. Rust-proof any metal parts. Perhaps come up with some new alternative dibs items. My tactic this year is to go with a bevvy of garden gnomes who, in my imagination, will not only deter people from parking in my spot, but will also come to life and attack any takers of my carefully cleared parking spot. Dibs is magical and a girl can dream, right?

Take stock of your winter wear

Sure, your coat you swore you’d replace next winter might have held out for the last few winters, but it’s time to take a good, long look at that thing and be honest with yourself. While the last thing you want to think about doing in these last moments of warmth is trying on winter wear, perhaps consider a trip to the Outlets or some winter stores before the winter retail season hits soon. If you’re a real go-getter you can start planning some winter gear swaps for the kids gear to get some really great deals before the winter starts.

If you could also master the art of convincing your children to stop growing during winter so as not to have to replace their winter coats/boots/leggings/thermal underwear/hats, please do feel free to pass this on. I can only assume it involves the same magic as the dibs gnomes.

Build your blubber layer

Ever wondered why Chicago food staples are so bad for you? My theory is that we all need those types of horrible, fat-layering foods in us to survive the long, bad winters. I say forgo the rest of swimsuit season and instead head over to Portillo’s. This training for winter might be arduous but it is guaranteed to be delicious. And remember: you don’t want to work off all your heat-keeping body layers while carving your car out of the snow and ice. The dibs gnomes can only do so much and keeping you warm is not in their job description.

Put your head in the sand

When most Chicagoans hear it’s going to be a “bad winter” they’ll immediately tell you about their “fondest” memory of a winter actually worth describing. Midwesterners are notoriously hardy and hearing that it’s going to be a rough winter is a bit like hearing Chicago has a crooked politician or two: it’s just par for the snowy course. So instead of fretting, we can all use this time to go to the beach and bury our heads in the sand … while perhaps stopping by Portillo’s on the way home, too, just in case.

P.S.(A) If you need actual tips on how to prepare for extreme cold and weather, please head over the Department of Homeland Security’s page for some real tips that don’t involve dibs.

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