Planning for Snow Day Success
When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.
– Author Unknown
School is closed due to weather conditions. Now what? As a kid, I was jumping for joy. I seem to have a singular moment when I look out at the beauty of a white winter and want to share that feeling of elation with my child over a snow day. But as a parent, often the burden of responsibility overtakes me. I feel disappointed (“But I had deadlines to meet.”), worried (“What am I going to do with E all day?”) and anxious (“I am going to get so far behind. How will I make up the time?”) Whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent, that morning announcement of school closing dramatically changes the day ahead. I found myself with that very dilemma yesterday and as snow storms continue to rage, may be faced with it again soon. So how do we change gears quickly and make the most of the time at home with children? I am sharing my ideas and would love to hear yours as well for making the day enjoyable for all involved.
Since one activity probably will not get you through the day with children who may need multiple and varied activities to keep them busy, I’ve put together our home-tested ideas that might just contribute to your success.
Create a World. It’s amazing how toys that were new during the holiday season now seem not as interesting. Novelty can be created on a snow day to keep children engaged in imaginative play. Think about your child’s current and past passions. For us, this could involve Star Wars, cars, trains or animals. For friends of ours, it would more likely involve fairies, princesses and puppies. Involve your children in creating a world for the toys. We used our toy cars along with construction paper, tape, scissors and used paper towel rolls to build the town of Radiator Springs from the movie, Cars. We’ve made a jungle with animals and built an ocean with a beach out of similar materials. Yesterday we brought out old train tracks long packed away in a storage bin. E was completely entranced with building a train track system, revisiting an old passion. You might create a fairy treehouse out of paper and crayons. My child tends to not be interested in arts and crafts. However this kind of project will involve him for at least a good hour, often more. Get your child started with supplies and the first parts of their imaginative world and see if they don’t take over and create on their own. If you have mulitples, are there common or shared interests? The beach was created cooperatively with three children who were interested in different aspects of the ocean – one in mermaids, another in sharks and yet another in shells. With this engaging project, you may even get a little time in for yourself while they are building.
Move! Kids are going to need some physical movement during the day to get the wiggles out of them. Instead of allowing those wiggles to evolve into play that can be destructive to household items, plan for a time to move. For example, you could create a dance party. Let them select their favorite music and perhaps add instruments to the mix. Or you may want to make a bath and have your child practice kicking and floating in the water. If the temperature is not too low to be outside, bundle up and get serious about making snow angels, building a snowman or fort or sledding down a hill. If you plan for time to move, those potentially annoying wiggles will be directed into joyful and appropriate play.
Adult Time, Kid Quiet Time. Set expectations for all at the very beginning of the day that after lunch (or whenever it best works for you), there will be a quiet time for a designated period. Let kids know what they are permitted to do — watch a program, read, listen to quiet music, do puzzles. Whatever they choose, it can be quiet and on their own while you have some adult time. Get in a portion of the work you are missing so that you do not end the day frustrated by a lack of progress. Bask in the solace of some quiet time. If clear boundaries are set, children can also appreciate this time for calmer activities.
Contribute. Involve kids in one activity that contributes, however small, to your household. It could mean the creation of a “Welcome home from work, Dad!” banner. You could bake cookies or bread together allowing kids to measure and add ingredients. You could pick a room to clean up or organize together. Do a load of laundry. Or simply work on getting dishes washed and dried as a parent-child team. Children have a greater sense of gratitude for their home and their family lives when they are involved in contributing to them. If you can find a way to accomplish a goal on your list and involve your children in contribution, so much the better!
Simmer down. After all of these activities, you and your children may be ready to simmer down. Getting them back into your typical dinner and bedtime routine on a school night will help them mentally prepare for the end of the day and the return to school the following morning.
If you think in advance about an agenda for a snow day, you may find that instead of entering the day with dread or worry, you enter with hopes for a positive experience with your children. Relax and know that there are activities that will engage them and balance their high energy with needs for calmer, relaxing time. If you have other plans for snow day success, I hope you will share them so that we all can learn and expand our repertoire! Here’s to finding joy in the snow days to come!