Surviving (Yet Another) Snow Day
The Aftermath of an early-morning roBo call
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 the season but more than halfway through the allotted snow days. Which means—fast-forward past the thaw—that the last day of school next spring could be a week later, making what is already a short-lived summer even shorter. But here’s to the present, and here are some tips for surviving yet another snow day.
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.”
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 miracle, try these:
Make your kids your colleagues. Let them know what you need to get done today. Let them know how long it will take. Mention one or two things they can do to help you get your work done, like playing together in another state (not really) or using their quiet “library voices” while you’re on a conference call (really).
Offer a pot of gold
Let them know one thing you’ll all do together when you’re done. “When I finish my work, 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 it’s something you’re prepared to deliver on.
Get the party started
Now you need to get your kids to occupy themselves for a few hours. You can jump-start the adventure with some of these ideas:
Build a fort
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 this new space anyway they like. Then run away (within hearing distance, of course) to get your work done.
Put a stuffed animal in an empty box. Present it to your kids. Say, “Look I got you a dog! I need you to take care of this little guy while I’m working.” Add some props like a washcloth and plastic bowl to encourage their play. Then run away to get your work done.
Reintroduce toys they have not played with in a while. Sometimes this just means pulling a few oldies down 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.
Bring down paper, markers, and tape, and 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.
If you don’t hear complete chaos (or total silence) down the hall, then things are probably going swimmingly. Resist the urge to peek in on your kids. Seeing you will just remind them of that sandwich they want you to make them.
Give them a challenge
If things are falling apart, ask them for more. 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. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get things back on track.
Pull out all the stops
Your kids have played together for a while. Your sanity depends upon getting a little more work done. It’s okay to offer a little media. For guilt-prone parents, try an audiobook or podcast. We love Story Pirates and Circle Round for their storytelling genius. Brains On and Wow In The World are great for science. You might even put some sleeping bags under the table or in the bathtub to make the listening more of a special (and contained) experience. And, of course, you can go the movie or show route. Before you press play, though, remind your kids, “When this is over, I’ll be done with work, and we’ll all build that three-story snow tower.”
Keep your promise
When time is up, put away your work. Hide it under the covers so it does not taunt you. Let your kids know, “You now have my full attention and we are going to have some crazy fun together!” Head outside. Play hard. Make Elsa proud.
Try for another miracle
Before heading in, build a little snowman. Hope it magically turns into a babysitter overnight—just in case tomorrow’s another snow day.