Another snow day looming… What is your reaction: jump with glee or cringe in disbelief?
If you are the latter, you most likely dread unscheduled days off from school…I know the feeling. I used to be just like that, getting frustrated and agitated because for a busy mom, it means…change of schedule! And that doesn’t come easy for people like me. I love routine. I love predictability. I love being able to rely on the known quantity. The funny thing is that I actually do love snow and winter in general. I don’t mind throwing a few snowballs and going down the hill on my kids’ sleds once in a while. Boy, I even love to shovel, (if my husband lets me :))!! So it really used to catch me off guard that I would get this frustrated when I got calls from school about a cancelation, even though I actually enjoy snow days.
It made me think about the ways that I can change how we do things around here, so it’s less hectic and stressful for us all on snow days. After some serious trial and error of multiple winters, I have come up with 5 things I do now that really help me to have very fun and low stress snow days with my kids these days!
1. Prep the night before.
First of all, if there’s a chance of a snow day the next day, discuss with your kids what TIME you would all GET UP. This part is very important in our house, because we have one early riser that needs to know what time to start getting ready for school, and one very sleepy owl who needs help waking up every morning. Warning my early riser that if I am not up by 7am, it means that we either have a snow day or a 2 hour delay, helps him to know to play quietly until I get up. This has been a big win for us, and my advice is to set up some sort of plan of action of what time to wake up/get up.
Second, gather as much SNOW PLAY SUPPLIES as you can. Pull out long johns, socks, snowsuits, find scarves and missing gloves, make sure the boots are dry. Set it all up by the door. Don’t forget your stuff, too, if you are planning to go out with your kids!! If you need to do laundry for any of that stuff, now is the time, NOT in the morning when everyone is itching to get out and play. Then, check where the shovels are and find your sleds, toys, snowman accessories, etc..
Third, think about FOOD. Food is very important on a snow day! My kids get extremely hungry after a couple of hours of playing in the snow, and I used to just run out of ideas of what else to feed them! I got into a habit of scanning my fridge the night before, taking note of fresh fruit and veggies that we have, cheese sticks, milk, and eggs. The latter two are for possible breakfast. If I feel ambitious, I even whip up waffle or pancake batter to be ready for the morning. If I am out of something, I improvise. It helps to tell my kids up front that waffles aren’t gonna happen today, but instead we can have special week-end cereal, for example. Look in your pantry and gather your kids’ favorite snacks. Don’t go overboard, just get enough to last a day. Sometimes I line them all up on the counter and tell my kids that they have to have a fresh fruit/veggie snack in between anything cracker-like snacks. It helps to make food choices easier on a day of “traffic jams” in our kitchen!
Also, don’t forget HOT CHOCOLATE! It’s a must in our house after the snow fun! If you gather your mugs, hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows, and a frother (if you use it) the night before and keep it in one place on your kitchen counter, it’ll be a breeze to quickly make that delicious drink and warm up the hands and bellies of your rosy cheeked kids!
2. Plan your snow day
There’s nothing worse than having your day perfectly outlined only to wake up in the morning and realize that the snow day is going to mess up your schedule and all your plans. If there’s a possibility of a snow day, get proactive and be prepared. You don’t have to cross your whole day out just because you got snowed in, and the kids are home from school! Look at your day, preferably the night before, and then determine what tasks on your to do list you can still keep and reasonably accomplish. This will help you to still be productive even with less things done than you planned originally, but at least you’ll skip the stress of scrambling and feeling frustrated with the snow and/or your kids.
Then, look at the weather forecast and decide whether or not you’ll be going outside to play in the snow and what time would be best for that. Take into consideration nap times, lunch, dinner prep. Then announce the plan for the day to your crew. This can help eliminate the flow of questions that usually bombards any mom on a snow day. My son, for instance, has the hardest time with vague answers. If I give him one, he will then incessantly ask me what’s next, when will we have dinner, when can he watch TV, when are we going outside, and so on. Of course, we encourage him to practice self-control and be patient. But knowing your child’s personality traits, you can help him or her to process information accordingly by providing guidelines. Also, remember, YOU are the boss, so you get to make the rules! 🙂
3. Establish snow day traditions.
Even if you don’t have any yet, start them the next snow day that comes around. Trust me, they are life savers! Because they are the same things you do on every snow day, you can rely on some predictability in your day.
Some of our snow day traditions are: a fun breakfast (waffles, pancakes, special cereal, etc.), Wii time (a little extra than on the week-ends), playing in the snow (building a snowman or a snow fort, sledding, or just running around), hot chocolate (always, even if we spent just 15 minutes out in the blizzard…always hot chocolate), watching a Star Wars movie. Just by having these few things to count on, I can easily predict when I’m going to catch a little break, have time to clean the snow mess, prep lunch or dinner, or just chill with the kids. I LOVE me some traditions! 🙂
4. Have an easy craft or activity ready.
I can’t tell you how many times I had wished I had something easy and fun on hand to do with my kids on snow days only to find myself fumbling with my laptop while trying with one hand to search for a “quick and easy” snow day project and with another making a snack or calming a crying toddler!
I have since learned that having a few NEW things, whether it’s a small toy from a dollar bin from Target, or a NEW coloring book and markers/crayons from the Dollar store is a game changer! I say “new” in capital letters, because it matters that much! If it’s new and never before seen by your kids, it’ll hold their interest and excitement if not for an afternoon (wishful thinking, right?), then at least for the time needed to clean up the wet snowsuits or prepare lunch. It doesn’t need to be extravagant or expensive, just something new to spike the kids’ interest.
If your kids are crafty, have supplies ready to go for a fun craft. If you are super organized, you would want to prep a few projects or crafts at the beginning of the winter season, put all the supplies in respective zipocks, label each craft, and stack them away. Then, when the dire times come, (and they will!), you can simply pull out the magic bag and feel like a hero! 🙂
If you are maybe semi-organized, you would gather everything the night before and put it in a pile ready to go. Even just choosing a craft the night before will help you focus better during the snow day since all you’ll have to do now is to gather supplies.
If you are not organized at all, here’s an idea for you that needs zero preparation, haha!
Cutting out snowflakes out of printer paper!
You can’t go wrong with this craft on a snow day! You really only need paper and a pair of scissors. The rest is up to the imagination! Best of all, it’s suitable for all ages, toddlers (with age appropriate scissors) and teenagers alike! Everyone loves the mystery of a folded cut out. A fair warning though–be prepared to clean up the multitude of paper cutting mess!
If your kids are older, try pulling out a brand new deck of cards! I don’t know what it is about the smell of new things, especially paper products? But my kids (especially my son) get super excited and ready to play some Go Fish! I usually loose, haha!
Here’s a list of fun and easy snow day crafts and projects that require minimal supplies and preparations:
5. Make soup!
There’s just something about soup and the comfort it brings to our bodies and souls after being outside in the cold. Always keep a pack of chicken in the freezer in winter months! On the morning of the snow day, throw the meat in your slow cooker, add broth, veggies, seasoning, and forget about it until dinner time. No stress! This recipe is so simple yet exceptionally delicious! Or if you have defrosted your chicken and have about an hour on your hands, you an make this Simple Chicken Noodle Soup with just 5 basic ingredients.Give it a try!
Remember, a snow day is a great chance for you to hang out with your kids, no matter their age! Try to have some fun! By setting your expectations right (which is basically plan for the best, but prepare for the worst! Ha!) and planning ahead, you can eliminate the usual stress of a snow day and have a day full of memories instead.