Surviving (Yet Another) Snow Day
Or, trying to keep sane after that 5 A.M. robocall
If you live anywhere in the Northeast, you may already be ticking away at the snow days. Or you will be soon enough. And if it is anything like last winter, you’ll soon be eating away your sick days and vacation days. Because someone has to be home with the kids. At home, you’ll put off tasks that need to be done. Study the calendar and count the days left in winter. Realize that you’re not even halfway through “snow season.” How will you make it to the spring thaw with your sanity (and job) still intact? Breathe deep and bundle up. Here are some tips for surviving yet another snow day:
TIP 1 // Let it out. Hide under your covers and cry. Everyone needs a good cry sometimes. When your kids ask about your puffy eyes, don’t say, “I’m just sad because I wasn’t expecting to be around you guys so much.” Instead, try “ It’s just my snow allergies acting up.”
TIP 2 // Try for a miracle. You know those neighbors who are always telling you your kids are so cute, the ones who go on and on about “missing the patter of little feet”? Call them up. Be like, “Mildred, I’m about to make your day.” You know the rest. It involves you marching your little ones across the street so they can patter their cute little feet all over Mildred’s house.
If today is not your day for a miracles try these:
TIP 3 // (for real this time)
Collaborate. Make your kids your colleagues. Let them know what you need to get done and how long. Give them a few things to do, like playing together in another state (not really) or using their quiet “library voices” while you’re on a conference call (really).
TIP 4 // Offer a pot of gold. Let them know one thing you’ll all do together when you’re done. “We are going to go outside and build a giant ice castle. Elsa will be jealous it’s going to be so off the hook!” Make sure you can deliver.
TIP 5 // Get the party started. Now you need to get your kids to occupy themselves for a few hours. Jump-start the adventure with these ideas:
+ Pull the couch a few feet out from the wall. Stick a bunch of pillows and sheets back there. BOOM: fort, cave, clubhouse! Let your kids take over. Then run away (within hearing distance) to get your work done.
+ Put a stuffed animal in an empty box. Present it to your kids: “Look. I got you a dog! I need you to take care of this little guy.” Add a washcloth and plastic bowl to encourage play. Then run away.
+ Reintroduce toys they have not played with in a while. Sometimes this just means pulling a few oldies from a shelf. Put these “new” toys in a place they’ve never been before. You might put a bunch of cars and blocks under the kitchen table. Let your kids discover them. Then run away.
+ Decorate! Bring down paper, markers, and tape. Invite your kids to decorate the bathroom. They’ll think it’s just ridiculous enough to be fun and you’ll contain the craft bomb to one tiny room! Then run.
+ Invent a holiday. “Oh my gosh, it’s almost Great-Aunt-Once-Removed Day!! Can you make Great-Aunt-Once-Removed Linda a care package? When it stops snowing we’ll mail it to her and she’ll be so happy.” Then, yes, you’ve got this. Run.
TIP 6 // Stay put. If you don’t hear complete chaos (or total silence), resist peeking in on your kids. Seeing you will only remind them of that sandwich they want you to make them.
TIP 7 // Give them a challenge. If things are falling apart, give them a real grown-up responsibility, like making their own lunch for the first time. Give them the chance to show off their inner big kid.
TIP 8 // Pull out all the stops. Your kids have played for a while. Your sanity depends upon doing a little more work. It’s okay to offer a little media. You might even put some sleeping bags in the bathtub or under the kitchen table to make it even more special (and contained). Remind them, “When this is over, I’ll be done with work and we’ll all build that three-story snow tower.”
TIP 9 // Keep your promise. When time’s up, hide your work under the covers so it doesn’t taunt you. “You have my full attention and we’re going to have fun!” Head outside. Play hard. Make Elsa proud.
TIP 10 // Try for another miracle. Before going in, build a little snowman. Hope that it magically turns into a babysitter overnight—just in case tomorrow’s another snow day.